Inspiring exploration, appreciation, and conservation of our natural world.

Boardman River Stewardship

The Boardman River Watershed spans 287 square miles and drains approximately 182,800 acres of land through 179 miles of river and stream tributaries – all of this adds up to 30% of the surface water input into Grand Traverse Bay. The Boardman River is the largest tributary to the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay.

The Boardman River is a state designated natural river and a blue ribbon trout stream, making it one of the top ten trout streams in Michigan. It is considered by many to be one of the most outstanding natural features of the Grand Traverse Bay Region. The Boardman River and its watershed are enjoyed by anglers, boaters, hunters, hikers, and wildlife watchers alike.

The Grand Traverse Conservation District began caring for the Boardman River in 1991, after a survey of the river revealed over 600 erosion sites along its banks, 85% of which were attributed to human activities. Thanks to a grant from the Rotary Charities’ Gourmet Game Dinner, we are able to share with you an online erosion inventory for an in-depth look at the river.The Boardman River is undergoing monumental changes with the removal of three hydroelectric dams and the subsequent restoration of hundreds of acres of previously submerged bottomlands. This process will transform open waters into riparian wetlands, create miles of white-water rapids, and provide numerous recreational opportunities for hikers, paddlers and fisherman alike.

When it’s all said and done, the Boardman will truly be “a River Reborn”. Follow the progress of this project by visiting our partners at

The Boardman River Valley Master Plan was developed as conceptual framework for future development and preservation within the portion of the Boardman River Valley that is located between Garfield Road and Supply Road / Fife Lake Road.

Looking to paddle the Boardman River? We typically offer two kayak floats every year down the Boardman River – one in July and one in September.  Check our Community Stewardship Events for specific days/times and to register.