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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.



Learn to Plant a Rain Garden

You can help keep our water resources clean, right from your own backyard!

Catie Wytychak, Susan Bryan, Mary Sheaffer-Manthey and Frank Commisky planting a new rain garden at Thurston Elementary

Catie Wytychak, Susan Bryan, Mary Sheaffer-Manthey and Frank Commisky planting a new rain garden at Thurston Elementary

Sign up for the February/March Master Rain Gardener Training to become an expert on these beautiful landscape features that filter and cool storm water before it enters our streams and rivers. This valuable program is hosted by the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and taught by local experts.

Attend all five classes and plant your own garden to become a certified Washtenaw County Master Rain Gardener!

Thursdays 9:30am-12:30pm, February 26 to March 26, 2015.

Location: 705 N Zeeb Rd, Ann Arbor, MSU Extension Classroom

Cost: 90$ (scholarships are available)

Instructors: Harry Sheehan, Shannan Gibb-Randall, RLA, Susan Bryan, MLA

Questions? bryans@ewashtenaw.org or (734) 730-9025;  www.ewashtenaw.org/raingardens

REGISTER ONLINE.

Or, register in person/phone/mail by calling Linda Brzezinski (734) 994-2300 x 53203 or mailing your check and this form c/o her to Rec & Ed, 1515 S Seventh St, Ann Arbor MI 48103.

  • You will need to write a short paragraph answering these questions: 1) Tell us a little about your gardening experience. 2) Are you a Master Gardener? (not required) 3) Why do you want to become a Master Rain Gardener?
  • There is a special discount for residents along Miller Avenue (Newport to Maple), Mitchell neighborhood (between Packard, Platt, Charing Cross and Lorraine Streets), W. Madison Street, Stone School Road, and Easy Street. E-mail bryans@ewashtenaw.org for details.


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

 




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