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Huron River Water Trail receives national designation

Uncork the champagne! The Huron River Water Trail is the newest National Water Trail.

Huron River Water Trail is 18th national water trailSecretary of the Interior Sally Jewell designated the Huron River Water Trail as the 18th trail of the National Water Trails System this week. The Huron River Water Trail joins a network of national exemplary water trails from Puget Sound to the Hudson River. The National Water Trails System is an inter-agency collaborative effort administrated by the National Park Service.

In the press release issued by the National Parks Service, Secretary Jewell recognized the achievements of local, state, and federal partners in the ever-growing water trail community. ”Expanding water trails nationwide improves the environment and adds value to local economies”, said Secretary Jewell. “The National Water Trail System helps people discover the natural beauty and history of local places and provides fun opportunities for families to explore the world around them.”

The Huron River Water Trail will reap many benefits of designation into the National Water Trails System including:

* national promotion and visibility

* mutual support and knowledge sharing as part of a national network

* opportunities to obtain technical assistance and funding for planning and implementing water trail projects

As a result of designation, the partners to the Water Trail may gain positive economic impact from increased tourism, assistance with stewardship and sustainability projects, assistance with recognition and special events highlighting the trail, and more.

To be considered for designation, HRWC completed a rigorous application to demonstrate that the trail met criteria in seven management practice areas. The application was reviewed at multiple levels including a federal inter-agency panel review and final review by Secretary Jewell.

logo-hrwtThe Huron River Water Trail is a 104-mile inland paddling trail connecting people to the river’s natural environment, its history, and the communities it touches in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It is a consortium of interested groups and communities committed to providing residents and visitors with a safe, accessible, and enjoyable experience on the Huron River and in the Trail Towns. The Huron River Water Trail is a project of the Huron River Watershed Council and RiverUp!.

 



The Story of a River Renaissance

The Making of Mill Creek Park in Dexter.

A look at the second of three short films produced by the Huron River Watershed Council . . .

“The Making of Mill Creek Park” features the restoration of Mill Creek and the dam removal in Dexter that transformed it from a stagnant pond into a free-flowing stream. Community leaders like Paul Cousins and Allison Bishop, Jolly Pumpkin’s Ron Jeffries, and a local family share the story of a revitalized waterfront that helps makes the Dexter community a great place to live, work and play.

7 Cylinders Studio of Ann Arbor worked with HRWC over the summer producing “The Making of Mill Creek Park” to share the vision of RiverUp!, a plan for the Huron River’s future. RiverUp! is a strategy to realize the goal of a vibrant, robust, and restored river as a destination for residents, visitors, and businesses. Other films in the RiverUp! series include the story of fly fishing in Ypsilanti and the creation of the Huron River Water Trail.

HRWC leads RiverUp! in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and the Wolfpack, a group of 75 business and community leaders and organizations.



News To Us

River Raisin. Julie Falk.

A snowy river. Photo: J. Falk

This edition of News To Us includes a recent interview with HRWC’s Executive Director Laura Rubin, and news of water conservation efforts in California. Read an update from the residents affected by the West Virginia chemical spill, the results of a hydraulic fracturing study in northeast Ohio, and an invasive species newly added to the Michigan DNR’s prohibited list. Finally, a mobile phone application allows local citizens to provide important stream data to scientists.

Issues of The Environment: The Dangers Of Coal Tar Sealants. HRWC’s Executive Director, Laura Rubin discusses the dangers of coal tar sealants with WEMU’s David Fair.

Michigan Adds 7 Aquatic Species To Prohibited List. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources bans possession of an additional seven invasive aquatic species.

Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development Proposes Addition of Water Soldier to State’s Prohibited Plant List. Water Soldier has recently been found invading the Trent-Severn waterway in Ontario.

Los Angeles, City of Water. Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles has become a leader in water conservation efforts and possibly a model city for others to look to in the future.

On The Anniversary Of The Elk River Chemical Spill, West Virginians Tell Their Stories. An update from residents who were affected.

Study: Fracking Triggered 77 Earthquakes in Ohio. A recent study proves a stronger connection between fracking and local earthquakes in Ohio.

Stream app turns Great Lakes citizens into scientists. Indian Springs Metropark at the Huron’s headwaters, is setting up several stream gauge stations that allow citizens to aid in gathering data via a phone app.

Sustainable Ann Arbor Monthly Series Kicks Off Jan 8. A think tank of local stakeholders, including community organizations, local government staff, businesses and residents, will join the public to discuss local sustainability efforts and challenges.



A inspiring excursion to the river in the cold

credit: John Lloyd

credit: John Lloyd

This letter came from my father-in-law yesterday.  I hope it inspires you to get out and enjoy the river and it’s natural beauty even when the weather is bitter.  Bundle up!

Dear Laura,

This morning Bella (a golden retriever) and I walked down to Gallup and the river.  The weather was bitter cold, especially when we faced the wind.  The sun was shining at an angle onto the snow.  The ducks, geese and swan were sitting comfortably on the river where the stream has not yet iced over. All around, the trees, benches, trash barrels and even the grills silently stood out in the snow, wanting to be noticed.  Bella and I saw only one other walker-and she or him only from a distance. Otherwise the entire scene was our own. Time was standing still, it seemed.  As I continued to gaze at this winterscape two words kept rising to the surface of my mind: how magnificent.  As Bella and I approached the end of our walk together, I felt that she and I had been lifted up in a moment of ecstasy and awe. The bracing cold, even the wind chill, had become our friends, inviting us to return soon.

Were I a Robert Frost or Mary Oliver, I would be at this moment writing a poem. Instead, I wrote to this note to thank you and your staff for all you do to make such moments possible.

Love,

Chuck

 



STONEFLIES!

2009-Stonefly-TrainingWednesday is your last chance to sign up for the January 17 Stonefly Search !

Join a small team led by a Stonefly Hunter who goes in the river so you don’t have to. You will be amazed at the lively creatures living under the ice.

Help HRWC collect data for a long-term study of our watershed. Aquatic insects are sensitive to their surroundings and can tell us about problems in the river and its streams.

Reserve your place at www.hrwc.org/volunteer/stonefly/ No prior experience needed.

This event lasts roughly 5 hours, is FREE and the activities are suitable for all ages, from responsible children to seniors.



Help us start the year off strong!

85% of our water quality work is funded locally.

During this season of giving, we invite you to make a gift to our Annual Fund for Clean Water to support our water quality monitoring programs. Gifts made by midnight on December 31, 2014 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Upton Foundation. A long-time funder of HRWC’s water quality programs, the Upton Foundation awarded HRWC a matching grant to double the impact of your annual gift.

From the staff at HRWC to your family, thank you for your continued support and Happy New Year!

From the staff at HRWC to your family, thank you for your continued support and Happy New Year!

Please donate to the Annual Fund for Clean Water

The Huron river is the cleanest urban river because of the work we do with your help. Help us protect the river and the clean water that sustains us all.

With gratitude,
Laura Rubin
Executive Director

p.s. If you have already responded with a donation, thank you.

 



2014 Leaves the Huron Nutrient Story Complicated

An excessive amount of nutrients is the top water quality concern in the Huron River watershed and the Great Lakes region, if not the entire county. This summer’s drinking water crisis in Toledo is a prime example of the potential impact. Waters in the Huron River watershed have suffered similar impacts, though somewhat less dramatic. Still, multiple millions of dollars have been invested within the watershed to reduce the sources of phosphorus (the growth-limiting nutrient in the region). So, where are we today, as we close out 2014? Have the programs, projects and other investments made any impact? HRWC’s Water Quality Monitoring Program results should shed some light on this question. 

The first look at the phosphorus trends suggests that we have made little recent progress. As shown in the first chart, raw phosphorus concentrations in the middle Huron River watershed steadily declined from the beginning of the monitoring program (2003) through 2009, when the average phosphorus concentration rose above target levels (red line). From 2010 through this year, concentrations were much more variable, but averages were distinctly above the target. Phosphorus concentrations were also well above the target in the Lower Huron watershed over the last three years (not shown).

Total phosphorus concentrations in the middle Huron River Watershed

Total phosphorus concentrations in the middle Huron River Watershed

These raw results do not provide a complete picture, however. Concentrations can vary tremendously (just look at the error bars) depending on a number of variables, most importantly stream flow. 2008 was a particularly dry year, for example, while stream flows were well above average in 2011. HRWC storm sampling shows that, as stream flows increase during a rain storm, phosphorus concentrations increase, often dramatically.

When we account for the stream flow at the time of sampling, we get a somewhat different picture. The second chart shows phosphorus concentrations at Ford Lake, when adjusted for river flow (also shown as the blue line). The chart shows four periods — 1995 when the state DEQ sampled to set a phosphorus control policy, and three periods after the monitoring program began.

Phosphorus concentrations and river flow at Ford Lake

Phosphorus concentrations and river flow at Ford Lake

From this view, it is obvious that concentrations have come way down from original ’95 levels. Also, phosphorus concentrations have come back up since 2009, but by less than it seems from raw concentrations.

It is unclear why we have seen the recent increase in phosphorus concentrations. It does not appear to be linked to sediment concentration (i.e. erosion) as those data are not well correlated. Some national studies suggest that historical fertilizer application may be dissolved and slowly moving through the groundwater. If that is the case, while direct application of phosphorus in fertilizer has been addressed (through fertilizer policy in the City of Ann Arbor and later statewide law), we are still seeing the legacy effects of over-fertilization in our urban/suburban areas. There also has been an increase in phosphorus loading from the more heavily agricultural Mill Creek watershed, which could partially explain the increase.

HRWC provides a more detailed tributary evaluation in its annual monitoring report. For reports, presentations and 2014 raw data, see the Water Quality Monitoring page.



News to Us

This edition features an update on recent legislation battling the Asian Carp, while Grand Rapids takes the lead in measuring the impact of its climate change efforts.  How did our water system become so disconnected, and how can we fix it? The Great Lakes Commission is working to answer this question by looking at the water system more holistically. Read about a true Huron River adventure from paddlers who kayaked over a gusty and rainy Halloween weekend.

Legislation Seeks Interim Steps to Stop Asian Carp Representative Dave Camp and Senator Debbie Stabenow join forces to fight the Asian Carp.

What Can Cities Really Do About Climate Change? Over a thousand US cities have agreed to abide by the Kyoto Protocol. The Mayor’s Climate Protection Center has been documenting these efforts, but measuring the impact has been difficult.  Since 2009, Grand Rapids’ sustainability plan has been tracking progress to measure its success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Fractured Water: Can metro Detroit reconnect its watersheds? Our water system has evolved into a system that is fractured and disconnected.  How did rivers become this way and what can be done to return the river to its natural state?

Halloween Storm 2014 on the Huron River Water Trail The Huron River Water Trail “Paddler’s Companion” came in handy for these paddlers who traversed the length of the Huron this fall.  Their trip is inspiring to those who wish to make the 125 mile trek. These guides can be purchased at the HRWC office or online here.



Huron River Watershed 2015 Mini Calendar

You asked for it!

Back by popular demand, the communities of the Huron River watershed have come together to produce a special annual version of the Watershed Community Calendar. The 2015 Mini Calendar features favorite Huron River photography curated from the calendar program’s archives. A playful take on the H2O Hero theme and monthly stormwater pollution prevention tips help you Huron River Watershed 2015 Mini Calendarprotect water quality in your everyday actions! Share it with family, friends, colleagues, anyone you think might “get their hero on.”

How to get your calendar.

By mail.  City of Ann Arbor and Barton Hills Village are direct-mailing/delivering to most households in their communities the week of December 15th. 

In person.  Calendars will be at these customer service counters:

-Livingston County Drain Commission and Road Commission
-Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission and Road Commission
-City of Dexter
-City of Ypsilanti
-Village of Pinckney
-Green Oak Charter Township
-Pittsfield Charter Township
-Charter Township of Ypsilanti

From HRWC. You can pick one up for FREE at the NEW Center, 1100 North Main Street, Ann Arbor, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm (check the literature rack in the lobby). Or contact Pam Labadie at plabadie@hrwc.org or (734)769-5123 x 602 to have one mailed to you for $5.

About the Calendar.

The Huron River Watershed 2015 Mini Calendar is a collaborative effort to educate residents about the importance of water stewardship and nonpoint source pollution prevention. The communities listed above believe there are substantial benefits that can be derived by joining together and cooperatively managing the rivers, lakes, and streams within the watershed and in providing mutual assistance in meeting state water discharge permit requirements. HRWC would like to thank them for their continued support of the calendar program which has distributed over 240,000 calendars to watershed residents biannually since 2003. The 2015 Mini Calendar is the first “annual” edition. Calendar photographers are Marc Akemann, Ted Nelson, Keith Matz and graphic design/illustration is by Christianson Design.



Elegant and innovative solution at a tricky portage

There’s more good news for kayakers and canoeists on the Huron! In late November, we installed a one-of-a-kind canoe and kayak slide on the steep portage route at Barton Dam in Ann Arbor. The unique design allows a paddler to guide a boat up or down depending on the direction of the trip and eliminates the need for trudging on the hill with a boat overhead. This project is just the latest to come out of the public/private placemaking initiative led by HRWC called RiverUp!.  RiverUp! Construction Manager, Andrea Kline, guest blogs on the most recent Huron River Water Trail project:

I confess, at first I was skeptical. I’ve slogged hundreds of pounds of gear across dozens of portages from Ontario to Maine but I have never seen, much less used, a canoe slide. But here I was at the Barton Dam, canoe slide plans in hand, ready to start a new adventure on the Huron River Water Trail.

The design of the slide was somewhat challenging since the rails would have to bend both horizontally and vertically to match the curves of the dam face and the trail next to the slide. All of the steel pieces had to be manufactured off-site. Hopefully, it would all fit together once the pieces arrived on-site.

Step 1: Install the bases. Since we were not allowed to dig deep foundations into the embankment and the bases had to line up exactly to accommodate the curves of the slide, our crew laid stone pads, about three feet square, at the locations that the surveyors had staked the week before. Once the stone pads were in place, the 13 concrete bases, each weighing over 300 pounds, were set carefully in place.

Our contractor getting it right on-site.

Our contractor getting it right on-site.

Step 2: Secure the steel slide rails to each of the bases. The moment of truth had arrived. Would the rails fit together like we had envisioned when putting the design on paper? The rails were fabricated in 14 pieces, each labeled to be installed in a particular location. Piece by piece, the railing was installed. The slide was taking shape, and I was getting excited about how it was looking. The dog walkers and joggers who looked at us skeptically at the beginning of the project now nodded in recognition when we explained what we were building and how it would work.

Jeffrey takes it out for a spin.

Jeffrey Post takes it out for a spin.

Step 3: Test the slide. We carried the canoe up the hill and placed it on the slide. It slid easily down the rails with a little prompting. Cameras and phones at the ready, we all took turns sliding the canoe down and back up the slide. High fives all around – it works!

The slide is now ready for paddlers to use in navigating around Barton Dam. Give it a try and let us know what you think! We are eager to share the design with other water trail organizations and are hopeful that this might be a prototype for other portages in our watershed and around the country.

Thank you to the Jeffrey and Joanna Post Family for their financial support and to our talented and dedicated project team: SmithGroupJJR for the design and Future Fence Company of Warren for the fabrication and installation.

The finished boat slide awaits Huron River paddlers.

The finished boat slide awaits Huron River paddlers.




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