Making a Mural in Frog Island Park

Ypsilanti turns to the river.

Enjoy our new video featuring the recent creation of Ypsilanti’s Frog Island Park mural by artist Mary Thiefels.

This waterfront mural is part of a public + private river access improvement project. Over two years, local volunteers and businesses renovated the canoe and kayak launch with support from HRWC and City of Ypsilanti. The renovations reflect Ypsilanti’s distinction as a Trail Town on the Huron River National Water Trail, a 104-mile inland paddling trail that connects people to the river’s natural environment, its history, and the communities it touches in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
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Produced by 7 Cylinders Studio
Director: Donald Harrison
Editing: Sydney Friedman
Post Production: David Camlin
Camera & Audio: Donald Harrison
Featuring: Mary Thiefels, Anne Brown, Sam Brown, Robby Borer, Jasmine Rogan
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Special thanks to RiverUp! partners: BC Contractors, Bill Kinley, City of Ypsilanti, Depot Town DDA, Margolis Landscaping, Walter J. Weber Jr. Family, Washtenaw County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

See the Mural in Person!

Join us for Ypsi Fall River Day on Sunday, September 24, Noon-3pm at Riverside Park. At Noon, “Walk to Frog Island Park” with Elizabeth Riggs HRWC’s Deputy Director. Elizabeth will share the new mural and improvements at the Frog Island Park launch and community efforts to restore and feature the river in Ypsilanti through RiverUp! and the Huron River Water Trail initiative.



Run for HRWC at the Big Foot Small Print Trail Run

4-Mile Trail Run and 1-Mile Kids’ Fun Run

Saturday, September 30, 2017Big Foot Small Print Trail Run
8am-Noon
Independence Lake County Park

Are you a runner? Or a walker?  Do you like beautiful trails, fall color, and helping your favorite watershed council (that would be us) AND supporting Washtenaw County Parks? We have the event for you! The Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission is partnering with the Huron River Watershed Council in the Big Foot Small Print Trail Run to support healthy and vibrant communities in Washtenaw County.

Your $35 ($40 after September 18) entry fee lets you enjoy a beautiful fall morning at Independence Lake County Park while running or kids-mile-startwalking a scenic 4-mile course. Also on offer – a 1 mile kid’s fun run/walk for children of all ages, for just $10 ($15 after September 17), so bring the whole family! Park entry fee is included in the registration for both county residents and non-residents. Sign up on the county parks website (click the “Browse Activities” link and search using keyword “run“).

“Running? Uphill both ways? Not me!” you might be saying. We need volunteers too! Contact Hannah Cooley, at cooleyh@ewashtenaw.org or (734)971-6337 x 319. Lots of fun jobs from helping with registration and packet pick-up to handing medals to racers at the finish.



Ypsi Fall River Day 2017

Join us on the Huron River National Water Trail!

Sunday, September 24, 2017Ypsi Fall River Day 2017
Noon-3pm
Riverside Park (North End), Ypsilanti

Free-Family Fun!

Paddle a kayak from Frog Island Park to Ford Lake ($10). Check out river raptors. Learn the history of the Huron River in Ypsilanti from a local historian. Go on a guided nature walk with a naturalist. Hear about community efforts to restore and feature the river in Ypsilanti through RiverUp! and the Huron River Water Trial initiative. Try your hand at river fishing.

There will be kids crafts, cider and donuts and more fun river-related activities.

Ypsi Fall River Day is hosted by the Ypsilanti Parks & Recreation Commission and is free and open to the public.

For information and the schedule of events go to ypsiparks.org.



News to Us

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The Red Swamp Crayfish is invading Michigan water bodies. Credit: flickr.com/usfwspacific

This edition of News to Us highlights both good and bad news on local algal blooms as well as two stories on non-native species making headlines – one of concern, the other of little concern. News at the federal level is also mixed. Read about the implications of the proposed Clean Water Rule repeal and some hopeful news on the federal allocation of funding supporting Great Lakes restoration.

Improving Water Quality In Ypsilanti Township’s Ford Lake
After decades of trouble with algal blooms in Ford Lake, an impoundment on the Huron River in Ypsilanti Township, researchers and township staff found a solution. Changing operations of the Ford Lake Dam has kept algal blooms at bay in most years and the water quality of the lake is improving.

Potentially toxic algae found in two Oakland County lakes
Two lakes, including Pontiac Lake in the Huron River watershed, are experiencing significant algal blooms this month. It is suspected that the blooms may contain toxic algae. Oakland County health officials recommend avoiding contact with the water at this time and keeping pets out as well. The article has a list of recommended precautions.

Tiny jellyfish reported in Lake Erie
Jellyfish in Michigan? Headlines have been circulating on the invasion of this non-native species recently because of new sightings in Lake Erie and St. Clair. And while it is true that this is a non-native species, it has been in Great Lakes waterways for some time now and has not reached nuisance levels. Also worthy of note is that the tentacles of this jellyfish are too small to sting humans, so swim away. For more on freshwater jellyfish see Huron River Report, Spring 2008.

Tiny lobsters of doom: Why this invasive crayfish is bad news
In other non-native species news, the red swamp crayfish has been confirmed in Michigan. This species has a lot of potential to become invasive and cause disruption to the native ecosystem. Their deep burrowing capacity is known to cause erosion, they out-compete native crayfish for food, and prey on small fish and fish eggs. The DNR is asking people to report potential sightings of this invader.

Trump plans to roll back environmental rule everyone agrees on
This opinion piece is written by former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Ken Kopocis, formerly of EPA’s Office of Water. The article describes what is at stake with the Trump Administrations proposed roll back of the Clean Water Rule. There has bipartisan demand for clarity on the 1972 Clean Water Act which the rule provides. Much work has been done to establish the rule which provides clear criteria for what waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. To provide your remarks on the proposed repeal, see our earlier blog On the chopping block: clean water.  Comment period closes September 27th.

House appropriators approve $300 Million for Great Lakes; reject amendment on Clean Water Rule
Some good news coming out of the federal government on the environment front. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, originally scheduled to be zeroed out in the 2018 budget, has been approved at $300 million by U.S. House appropriators. The funding still has to make it through the Senate and White House before final approval.



On the chopping block: clean water

***  UPDATE: On August 16, 2017, the EPA and the Army extended the comment period by 30 days for the proposed first step of the review of the definition of ‘Waters of the U.S.’ to provide additional time for stakeholders to weigh in. *** The comment period, as now extended, will close on September 27, 2017. ***

While we are working to clean up the Huron River system for a good quality of life, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is working to roll back the Clean Water Act. The current administration is rushing through a repeal of the Clean Water Rule and we have only until September 27th during public comment to try and stop it. It’s critical for your voice to be heard in D.C.

The proposal has been published in the federal register.

You can help by submitting a request to stop the repeal of this important rule on or before Wednesday, Sept. 27, 11:59pm EST.hrwc-clean-water-rule-wetlands

Get sample comment letter language, links into the Federal eRulemaking Portal, Michigan impacts, and news articles HERE.

Background:

What is the Clean Water Rule? In 2015, the previous administration clarified and finalized protections for streams and wetlands across the country. These safeguards protected the small streams that feed the drinking water sources for nearly 1 in 3 Americans. They protected wetlands throughout the nation that filter pollutants from water, absorb floodwaters, and provide habitat for countless wildlife. In fact, industry and other permittees asked for this clarification as an end to regulatory confusion about which of the country’s waterways the Clean Water Act protects. The rule was supported by millions of Americans.

The Clean Water Rule followed a robust public process. Before finalizing the Clean Water Rule in 2015, EPA held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country and published a synthesis of more than 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific publications, which showed that the small streams and wetlands the Rule safeguards are vital to larger downstream waters.

What is this administration proposing? Administrator Pruitt does not want to implement the Clean Water Rule. Instead, he plans to rush through the repeal of the Clean Water Rule this year, then propose and finalize a less protective rule in less than a year. President Trump signed an Executive Order instructing the EPA to propose a new rule based on former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s opinion of which waterways the Clean Water Act protects. A rule following Scalia’s interpretation would result in drastic exclusions of wetlands and streams from protection; fewer than half of wetlands and fewer than 40 percent of streams would receive federal protection. If that scenario comes to pass, then the nation’s waters will be less protected than they were in 1975!

Who is opposing the Clean Water Rule? Lobbyists for oil and gas producers, homebuilders, and farm bureaus.

What’s at stake? Our right to clean drinking water is in jeopardy. Rolling back hrwc-clean-water-rule-at-riskthe rule will result in the same regulatory confusion that resulted in broad-based calls for clarity about which of our nation’s waterways the Clean Water Act protects. Rolling back the rule is bad governance, bad for businesses who rely on regulatory certainty, and bad for our communities that deserve clean water.

Michigan’s rivers play a key role in economic and community building. Here in the Huron River watershed, we know the value of a healthy river system that includes healthy wetlands and smaller feeder streams. The river and water trail are conservatively estimated to have the following economic impact:

  • $53.5 million in annual economic output (direct, indirect, and induced spending)
  • $628 million in added property value
  • $150 million in annual environmental value (such as clean drinking water, wetlands and floodplains that prevent flooding, and forested riverbanks that foster rich fisheries and healthy streams)

Please speak up – send a message to the EPA today. Tell Administrator Pruitt: Hands off our water. We’ve provided a sample public comment letter. We encourage you to add your own description of the value of clean water.

Postscript: Republicans, meanwhile, are targeting the rule on a second front. A section of the Defense Department spending bill (page 277, line 12) allows the administration to revoke the rule with no strings attached — strings being requirements for public consultation.

Get sample comment letter language, links into the Federal eRulemaking Portal, Michigan impacts, and news articles HERE.

 



An Inconvenient Sequel

Join HRWC at the Michigan Theater, August 3rd or 5th

FOR An Inconvenient Sequel, part two to the Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” that opened our nation’s eyes to the climate change problem a decade ago.

Thursday, August 3, 7pm
Saturday, August 5, 4:30 and 7pm
Michigan Theater, 603 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ticket prices:  $10 for general public and $7.50 for Michigan Theater members, $8 for students/seniors/veterans

Get TICKETS from the Michigan Theater.

Come for a post screening talk There’s Still Time: Climate Change Solutions, August 7th

Monday, August 7
6pm – 8pmClimate Reality Project
NEW Center, 1100 North Main Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Free and open to the public
Please REGISTER for the talk by emailing kolsson@hrwc.org.

Join HRWC’s Watershed Ecologist Kris Olsson and Watershed Planner Rebecca Esselman for a presentation on potential climate change impacts and threats as well as hopeful and exciting trends in clean energy and community activism. Learn how a changing climate will affect the Huron River and how HRWC is working to help our watershed communities become more climate resilient.

This past March Kris traveled to Denver Colorado for “Climate Reality Leader Training” and joined the thousands of volunteers in 135 countries who have been personally trained by former Vice President Al Gore to educate the public about climate change. “I learned that while the scale of the problem is monumental, the opportunities to fix the problem are tremendous, with renewable energy costs plummeting and capacity skyrocketing. U.S. states and cities and many countries are already turning to solar, wind, and energy conservation at record rates.”



News to Us

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Children learning about aquatic insects at Huron River Day, 2017.

Updates on local efforts by HRWC are highlighted in this News to Us with articles on the Gelman dioxane contamination, Putnam Township green infrastructure planning and Huron River Day. Also learn how the EPA is changing under Chief Pruitt and a forecast for Lake Erie as algal bloom season draws near.

Court of Appeals rejects polluter’s request in Gelman plume case  The Huron River Watershed Council will continue to have a seat at the table for negotiations around the dioxane contamination of groundwater in Ann Arbor and Scio Township. An appeal by Gelman Sciences, Inc. was rejected by the Michigan Court of Appeals allowing HRWC, the City of Ann Arbor, Scio Township and Washtenaw County to be involved in clean up negotiations with the State and Gelman.

Putnam Township Looks To Establish “Green Infrastructure”  Putnam Township is the latest community to be working with HRWC to plan for development and the protection of valuable natural resources at the same time.  Learn more about HRWC’s Green Infrastructure Planning program here.

37th annual Huron River Day brings thousands to the water  Enjoy a fun gallery of photographs of people enjoying the river on Huron River Day earlier this month.  This annual event brings many to the river, providing an opportunity to teach people about the Huron and how to care for it.

Counseled by Industry, Not Staff, E.P.A. Chief Is Off to a Blazing Start  So much of what HRWC is able to accomplish is supported by the work of the EPA.  The Clean Water Act and associated funding streams help determine standards for water quality and provide money for projects to clean up impaired waters. This article summarizes the ways that EPA Chief Pruitt is undermining all this country has worked for to provide clean and safe air, water and land. The implications are far reaching and potentially devastating.

Forecasters: Lake Erie algae bloom shaping up as big and possibly harmful  Algal bloom season is upon us and predictions don’t look good for Lake Erie. The Huron River’s receiving waters, are expected to experience an algal bloom that rivals those that occurred in 2011 and 2015 which were the two largest blooms since the 1990’s.



2017 Water Quality Monitoring Season Marks Halfway Point

Volunteers Jacinda Bowman, Daniel Tanner, Ron Fadoir, and Charlotte Weinstein at Silver Creek having fun and taking flow measurements.

Volunteers Jacinda Bowman, Daniel Tanner, Ron Fadoir, and Charlotte Weinstein at Silver Creek in Wayne County having fun and taking flow measurements.

In March, HRWC’s Water Quality Monitoring Program began the season with a volunteer orientation where we introduced what we do and gave an overview of the goals we hope to achieve. 50 enthusiastic individuals had field training just a few weeks later, and have been going out every two weeks to our 39 monitoring sites throughout Livingston, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties. At these site visits, volunteers grab water samples for chemistry analysis by a laboratory, gather field data such as dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and temperature, and also take flow measurements.

Another 18 volunteers attended our mid-season orientation in June. These new volunteers are joining the current team to help finish out the remainder of the monitoring season, which ends on September 28.

Pat Rodgers and Peg White gather field data at Woodruff Creek in Livingston County.

Volunteers Pat Rodgers and Peg White gather field data at Woodruff Creek in Livingston County.

Thanks to all of our Water Quality Monitoring Program volunteers for their help in gathering important watershed data, and to the leaders in the program who assist in training and overseeing the data collection in the field. We could not do it without you! We are at the halfway point!

For more information about the Water Quality Monitoring Program, click here.



Warning! “Oak wilt” is striking Michigan Forests!

Bark infected with oak wilt. Photo: Bill Cook, MUS Extension. Source Legacy Land Conservancy

Bark infected with oak wilt. Photo: Bill Cook, MSU Extension. Source Legacy Land Conservancy

In your travels throughout Michigan this summer, you may see a disturbing sight – areas clear cut of trees. These areas have been hit with oak wilt, a fungus that can kill oak trees in under 4 weeks. To prevent it from spreading, property owners and managers must cut down and remove the tree, in addition to digging out at least 5 feet into the ground to destroy the fungus. It starves the tree to death by preventing it from absorbing water. Sap-feeding beetles spread the fungus by feeding on infected trees. Once one oak is infected, all other oak trees in the area are in danger. If oak wilt isn’t stopped, it could possibly kill almost all the red oaks in the state.

Oak wilt-infected leaves. Photo: Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension. Source Legacy Land Conservancy

Oak wilt-infected leaves. Photo: Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension. Source Legacy Land Conservancy

As oaks are a dominant tree species in most of Michigan forests, this would be devastating to our forests as well as our watersheds, as our rivers will lose the forest buffers that keep them healthy.

Already, locally, trees in Legacy Land Conservancy’s Reichert Nature Preserve in Hamburg Township have contracted the fungus.

What you can do:

  • Do not cut any kind of oak trees from April 15th to July 15th.
  • There is a ban on cutting oak trees for firewood during this time
  • Use and buy firewood locally – get it from the vicinity where you will be using it.
  • For more information, see Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Now Newsletter and Legacy Land Conservancy’s Winter 2017 Newsletter
  • Report suspect infestations to DNR-FRD-Forest-Health@michigan.gov; 517-284-5895


Fishing with a Little Help from our Friends AC/DC

A smallmouth bass with bright markings.

A smallmouth bass with bright markings.

When scientists want to sample a fish population, they don’t rely on a rod and bait. Under certain circumstances they will use nets, and often in streams and rivers they will use electrofishing. HRWC got the chance to do a little electrofishing this past week.

To electrofish in a shallow river, a gasoline generator is put into a light boat. The generator is hooked to two long poles, called booms, that are placed into the water and create an electric field between themselves and the bottom of the boat.  The electric field does not kill fish but temporarily stuns those that get within a few feet of the booms.  While stunned, workers with nets scoop up the fish and put them in tubs filled with water. The fish are then identified and sorted, and eventually released back to the river safe and sound.

Last Wednesday, several HRWC staff went out with our partners from Environmental Consulting Technology (ECT) to sample the Huron River along Riverside Park in Ypsilanti.  We saw plenty of fish in this stretch, including several big smallmouth bass and one big walleye.  While we still need to officially work up the results, our initial observations were that the fish are indeed using the cover and deep water habitat that HRWC  installed two years ago, and the fish were bigger and more numerous than when we electrofished the same reach before the habitat was installed.

We will report back when the final results are in. Until then, enjoy some fish pictures!

pulling a eletrofishing barge at River side Park, Ypsi

ECT staff pull an eletrofishing barge at Riverside Park, Ypsilanti

watch for those teeth!

We caught a walleye at Riverside Park. Watch out for those teeth!

The fish are measured before we let them go.

The fish are measured before we let them go.




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