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News to Us

Booms placed in the Huron River to capture oil leaking from an underground storage tank.

Booms placed in the Huron River to capture oil leaking from an underground storage tank.

In the news, the Huron River continues to receive more attention from both local governments and the national government.  Also, oil reached the river from a leak at a private residence near Portage Lake.  Finally read two stories covering new research, one fueled by data collected by citizens, the other from a University of Michigan researcher on microplastics in the Great Lakes.

Ypsilanti adopts designation of Michigan Trail Town along Huron River Ypsilanti City Council has formally adopted the designation of Huron River “Trail Town”.  Ypsilanti is one of five, along with Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor and Flat Rock, water trail towns along the Huron that are working to maximize the benefits of being situated right on the river.  The Huron offers recreation, economic and aesthetic benefits as well as many ecological benefits.

Federal agencies assist in oil leak  There was an oil spill on private property in Pinckney last week. Some of that oil ended up in the Huron River. Hazmat teams were called in to contain and clean up the spill.

200 years of citizen science predict the future of forests One family has left quite a legacy.  For generations, the descendants of Robert Marsham continued his efforts to capture the timing of leaf out and flowering of many plant species and the appearance of certain animals at their family estate in England. A researcher has used this information to look for trends in the data that may help us understand how natural communities may respond to changing temperatures. Citizen science helps us in many ways here at HRWC.  Who knows, maybe one day all of you HRWC volunteer data collectors will be part of a story told from 200 years of data on the Huron River!

National Designation Awarded to Huron River Water Trail  The Huron River Water Trail/RiverUp! is the cover story of the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association publication! The recent designation is continuing to get high profile press at the local, state and national level exposing a new audience to the treasure we have right here in southeast Michigan.

UM researcher says microplastics could threaten Great Lakes fish  Here at HRWC we keep our eyes and ears open for emerging threats to the river and citizen of the Huron River watershed.  Microplastics (microbeads and microfibers) are a somewhat recent addition to our aquatic systems.  This article discusses potential impacts of this pollutant coming out of new research from the University of Michigan. Legislation has been introduced at the State to ban products containing microbeads.



World Water Day

Reflections on World Water Day 2015

Reflections on World Water Day 2015

Sunday marked the 21st annual World Water Day – a day to reflect on the value of a resource often easy for those of us fortunate enough to be in a water rich environment to take for granted.  News media and social networks were abuzz with coverage of this event and the importance of water.  Take a moment to browse some of the great coverage out there by searching on #WaterIs in Twitter.

I ran across a simple blog sharing some compelling statistics about freshwater: 36 eye-opening facts about water.  The piece is a good reminder of how good we have it, how important water is to protect, and how we all might be better stewards.

Some of the 36 that jumped out at me?

10. More than one-quarter of all bottled water comes from a municipal water supply – the same place that tap water comes from.Break the bottled water habit.  In our area tap water is clean and safe.  Even tasty. In fact, for Ann Arbor water customers, A2 water frequently wins the regional Michigan Water Tasting Competition (yes, this is a thing).

And then there are these; “24. On average, an American resident uses about 100 gallons of water per day. 25. On average, a European resident uses about 50 gallons of water per day. 26. On average, a resident of sub-Saharan Africa uses 2 to 5 gallons of water per day.” Each of us can do better.  Small actions can help us achieve more efficient use of water.

For example, “33. It takes 3,962 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of beef.”  Eating less meat can dramatically reduce your water footprint.  Also, “14. A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.” Simply maintaining our plumbing is another habit we can get into to reduce water use that doesn’t even touch the water you actually use in a day.  It just cuts back on the waste.

And finally, “11. Approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used in the United States per day; nearly half of that is used for thermoelectric power generation.” By reducing your energy use, you are conserving water as well (and reducing your carbon footprint too!).

You don’t have to look far to find stories about the devastation caused by water scarcity or the consequences of spreading a finite resource too thin. The extreme drought in the Western United States shows we are not immune to the impacts of a lack of water. So, take a moment to reflect on everything water provides and how you can do your part to tread lightly on this vital resource.  And next time you set eyes upon the Huron River let her know how much you appreciate what she does for you.



Rivering at The Ark

Celebrate HRWC’s 50th, Sunday April 26, 1 pmchris good

You just have to be there for this Huron River-inspired, beautifully crafted, and uplifting canon of river songs, poems and images, featuring river lovers and performers: Chris Good, Kate Peterson, Magdalen Fossum, Billy Kirst, Kyle Rhodes and Panoka Walker. Special appearances by Carnegie Hall soloist and UM Professor Evan Chambers, along with The Chenille Sisters‘ exquisite harmonies. WEMU’s news director David Fair will be our emcee for this big, fun, once in a lifetime celebration of HRWC. Expect the unexpected, but we won’t tell you what, because we want to keep some surprises until showtime. You’ll just have to buy a ticket to find out.

Purchase Tickets  Tickets are $15 general admission and $25 reserved seating, doors open 12:30pm

The Chenille Sisters 7/10/06 image #3755Don’t miss this chance to hear Zingerman’s opera diva Robby Griswold, gospel singer Sarah Norat Phillips, and yes, HRWC’s Executive Director, Laura Rubin sing our favorite river songs, including Cry Me a River, and Wade in the Water. Storytellers and poets, John Knott and Keith Taylor, will entertain us with poetry and river stories. So much fun!  Help raise funds for HRWC as we begin to look forward to the next 50 years and a future of clean and plentiful water for people and nature where we can all be champions for a healthy and vibrant Huron River.

Brunch at Lena

Before the show, join us for Sunday Brunch at LENA. Lena is a unique culinary experience, inspired by the foods and traditions of Latin America, and influenced by the flavors and techniques of new world cuisine. Lena is located at 226 S Main St., and we recommend you call for reservations, (734) 994-2773, and  arrive by 11am so you have time to eat and drink before the show. The Ark is less than a block away.   LENA BRUNCH MENU  

Questions: Margaret Smith (734) 769-5123 x 605

Thanks to our Sponsors: Ann Arbor State Bank, LENA and Ann Arbor Area Convention and Vistor’s Bureau

 




How is Your Local Government Doing?

Ever wonder how best to protect the river and its watershed?

We think about this everyday here at HRWC.

There are 63 different local governments in the Huron watershed

There are 63 different local governments in the Huron watershed. Click map to enlarge.

One of the best ways to is to encourage location and design of neighborhoods and businesses to keep excess runoff and pollution out of the river.  Each local government (cities, villages, and townships) in the watershed is responsible for reviewing land use development and designs within their own boundaries.  That means one of the best ways to help the Huron is to ensure each local government has policies in place that allow residential and commercial development in a way that allows the river and its ecosystems to continue to function.

HRWC has two tools that can help citizens in any of the 63 different local governments in the watershed get involved in their city, village or township planning commission, board, or council.

  • The Citizen’s Guide to Land Use Planning (click on link. the Citizens Guide is halfway down the page), takes readers step-by-step through the land use planning process and its importance to water quality.
  • As part of a new project, Green Infrastructure Services for Local Governments, funded by the Americana Foundation, HRWC has created two checklists; one for elements recommended in a local government’s Zoning Ordinance, and another for elements recommended for their Master Plan. See how many recommended elements are in your local government’s ordinance and master plan.

HRWC is currently using the checklist in partnership with Webster Township as part of their master plan revision process.  HRWC plans to be working with at least two more local governments in the next year as part of this project.



Family Volunteering

River Roundup volunteers. Photo by Rick Martin

River Roundup volunteers. Photo by Rick Martin

While it may not seem like it today, HRWC’s field season, and thus many volunteer opportunities, are right around the corner. Our first volunteer training (for our Water Quality program) is on March 21. River Roundup and Bioreserve training are sure signs that spring is imminent.

As many of our volunteers and supporters know, most HRWC programs are family friendly. It’s been a delight seeing many of our youth volunteers grow into thoughtful, giving, young professionals. Numerous studies have linked volunteering to being happier and healthier. So why not get your favorite kid involved in the community, especially HRWC? For some tips, see this Points of Light blog on getting kids into volunteering. To see if your youth is a good fit for one of our programs just ask the program lead!

If you’re interested in HRWC’s volunteer programming in general, Jason would love to hear from you: jfrenzel@hrwc.org.



News To Us

Snowy Huron by Dan Bruell

Snowy Huron by Dan Bruell.

This edition of News to Us shares news of Minnesota’s proposed steps toward protecting state waters, while New Jersey proceeds with a controversial decision that bypasses voter involvement. Read to learn about a diabetes drug affecting fish in Lake Michigan as well as increasing recognition of the Huron River Water Trail.

Minnesota Governor Dayton to propose environmental buffer zone for all state waterways. Governor Mark Dayton will be proposing legislation to protect Minnesota state waterways with fifty foot buffer zones, and is expecting opposition from farming interest groups.

New Jersey Governor Christie Signs Bill ‘Siding With Private Water Companies’ Over Public Water. Governor Chris Christie signed the controversial “Water Infrastructure Protection Act” which allows municipalities to sell their public water utilities to private businesses without putting the measure to voters.

Diabetes drug affecting fish in Lake Michigan. A recent study has found that the popular Diabetes drug, Metformin, is affecting the hormonal system of fish in Lake Michigan.

The 10 Most Important Water Stories in 2014. Peter Gleick with the Pacific Institute, and Carl Ganter of Circle of Blue, list the ten most important water stories of 2014 with #8 and #10 affecting our region.

Communities along the Huron River are embracing the Huron River Water Trail’s recent designation as the 18th National Water Trail by the National Park Service:



Thinking About A Rain Garden This Summer?

“Ask the Experts” at the Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show, March 20-22

Residential Rain Garden

This rain garden captures and infiltrates rooftop runoff from a nearby home.

Rain gardens are beautiful landscaping features that capture, hold and soak in runoff from storms. They are specifically designed for areas where rain water habitually pools or to which it is deliberately channeled. Their loose, deep soils and deep-rooted native plants absorb water and filter pollutants.

Get information and advice from local experts  Drew Lathin of Creating Sustainable Landscapes (Sat 10am-7pm) and  Susan Bryan (Sun 1:30-3:30pm) of the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Rain Garden Design Program. They’ll be on hand at the HRWC-WCWRC booth to share some “deep-rooted” know-how including tips on site and plant selection, garden layout, installation, and maintenance.

Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show
Fri, March 20, 2-8pm;
Sat, March 21, 10am-7pm;
Sun, March 22, 11am-5pm
Building E, Booth 169
Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds
5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Road

Admission is $5, children ages 12 and under are admitted for free.

For FREE tickets, HRWC members can contact Pam Labadie, plabadie@hrwc.org, (734)769-5123 x 602.

Rain water infiltration projects like this rain garden capture and help clean stormwater.

Rain water infiltration projects like this rain garden capture and help clean stormwater.

Rain Gardens are low maintenance, drought tolerant and environmentally friendly. They beautify your property and your neighborhood. They help keep water away from your home’s foundation. They can be designed as a manicured formal garden or you can create a more natural look. You can choose plants that purposely attract butterflies and other wildlife.

Make this the summer you commit to protecting water quality with a rain garden in your yard!



Quiet Water Symposium, March 7, 2015

Its never too early to plan your summer paddling adventure!

Join the Huron River Water Trail in Lansing at the 20th Annual Quiet Water Symposium for a day of talks, demonstrations and exhibits from outdoor recreation experts.

Date:  Saturday, March 7, 2015

Location: The Pavilion for Livestock and Agriculture Education
(Farm Lane, south of Mt Hope – on the campus of MSU)

Time: 9am to 5:30pm

Admission: Adults $10.00; Students (with ID) $5.00; Under 12 Free

This year’s symposium features presentations by world famous authors, photographers, and expedition travelers. Talks cover skills, safety, local and distant destinations, bicycling, sailing, diving, and history. Exhibitors on the show floor include clubs and nature centers, handcrafted and historic watercraft, conservation and watershed groups, outfitters, liveries, and biking, hiking and water trails. Come to QWS to plan your summer paddling adventures!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.quietwatersymposium.org

Widget-HRWTThe Huron River Water Trail is a 104-mile inland paddling trail connecting people to the Huron’s natural environment, its history, and the communities it touches in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.



Stoneflies! Cute AND educational!

Stonefly Search 2015 Wrap Up

A Surprisingly Pleasant January Day
So cute! Who wouldn't want to spend a cold Saturday in January looking for one of these?

So cute! Who wouldn’t want to spend a cold Saturday in January looking for one of these?

You never know what a Michigan January will bring; last year HRWC was forced to cancel the Stonefly Search because of sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions.  But this year, on January 17, 125 intrepid volunteers enjoyed bright sunshine and 30 degree weather as they spread across the Huron River watershed. They were in search of stoneflies, which are only found in clean and healthy streams.  Everyone made it back safe, and not a single leaky wader was reported! Overall, it was a great success!

The results are in, and are given in this pdf report.

What We Found

1. Usually when we look at the data after an aquatic bug search, we see that some sites do better than normal, some sites do worse, but most sites stay the same. This was a strange year because while most sites stayed the same, several did worse than normal, and none did better.  Overall, the count of stonefly families was down about 10% from our last sampling event (2013). There is no clear explanation for this; weather conditions were great and the ice wasn’t any thicker than other year.  We will start to be concerned if we continue to see this happen year after year. However, there is always natural variation in the data and collecting and this year will likely not be the start of a downward trend in terms of the overall sampling.

 

Caroline, HRWC Intern and volunteer, scours Malletts Creek in hopes of scoring a Capnid.

Caroline, HRWC Intern and volunteer, scours Malletts Creek in hopes of scoring a Capnid.

2. That being said, there are specific locations that have shown long-term degradation. For example, Honey Creek in Ann Arbor. The team searching for stoneflies in Honey Creek at Wagner were unable to find stoneflies. This site has been sampled 14 times since 1995, and this is the first time that stoneflies could not be found. This is a site with lots of turbulent highly oxygenated water and should be a great place for stoneflies. Taken in isolation, the absence of the stoneflies at Wagner Road would not be concerning given that this is a single sample.  However, two upstream Honey Creek Adopt-a-Stream sites used to have stoneflies but haven’t in years.  Stoneflies haven’t been seen in Honey Creek at Jackson Road since 2008; they haven’t been at Honey Creek at Pratt Road since 2003. All of the pieces combined indicates that the overall quality of Honey Creek is degrading over the last decade.

3. Davis Creek at Pontiac Trail is another location where the stonefly population has dropped over time. This change is concerning because it happened slowly over the last ten years and our spring and fall samples show a very similar pattern.  In the early 2000s we regularly found one or two stonefly families at the creek, but they started to drop off and now have not been found since 2009.

4. All this doom and gloom needs to be put in perspective, though. Remember, most of the sites we visited were as healthy as ever.  Of the 61 Adopt-a-Stream sites that HRWC uses to assess the overall water quality of the watershed, stoneflies are regularly found at 38 of them. In other words, 62% of our watershed has very high water quality and habitat. This agrees with recent analyses of other HRWC data, showing that 66% of the watershed was good to very high quality, 28% was fair to good, and 7% was highly impacted (2014 State of the Huron)

Next on the horizon!

Interested in doing more with our macroinvertebrate searches?  Think about becoming a trained leader or collector by coming to the next training on March 29.  This is an extremely important job because every team needs both a trained leader and collector, and we often do not have enough to meet the demand.  Sign up for the training!

 

The team gathers around the white trays to sort debris and hunt for stoneflies!

The team gathers around the white trays to sort debris and hunt for stoneflies!

 

 



Support Biodiversity! Tell the DNR what you think

A female osprey brings a fish to her offspring.

A female osprey brings a fish to her offspring.

The Michigan DNR is looking for public input on their Nongame Wildlife Fund.  The fund is used to fund the DNR’s efforts to identify, protect,  manage and restore Michigan’s biological diversity.  It is an important way the DNR can fund projects that help wildlife that do not benefit directly from management of game populations such as deer, trout, or pheasant; management for these species receives direct funding from hunting and fishing licenses.

Participate in the survey and let the DNR know that nongame wildlife are important to your enjoyment of Pure Michigan.




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