HRWC releases first-of-its kind study on river’s economic impact

Read the newly released “Summary of The Economic Impact of the Huron River.”

In 2016, HRWC commissioned a unique study to measure the economic impact of the river on local communities, focusing on Huron River Water Trail activities and the value of natural systems that maintain a healthy, clean river.

The Huron River contributes enormous benefit to the local economy.

That’s one of the key takeaways from research conducted by a research team with Grand Valley State University lead by Dr. Paul Isely, associate dean. Their work, supported by HRWC and the RiverUp! initiative, represents a significant step forward in quantifying the economic value of the Huron River corridor and the Huron River Water Trail, a designated National Water Trail.

Read the “Full Study of The Economic Impact of the Huron River by Grand Valley State University.”

Key Findings

The Huron River and Huron River Water Trail are conservatively estimated to have the following economic impact on the five-county region in which they are located:

  • $53.5M in economic output ($29.9M direct + $23.6M indirect spending) annually
  • $150M annual economic value of ecosystem services provided by the Huron River
  • $3.8B total economic value of services provided by the Huron River
  • 2.6 million visitor days

The study provides robust baseline information about who’s using the river and trails along it, how the downtowns and businesses near the river relate to it, and how the value of maintaining the river corridor’s natural features can be monetized. As a result, HRWC and its partners can make more targeted investments, track changes over time, and have another tool for engaging new partners.economic-impact-pull-quote-web

The team followed a two-part approach to understanding the value of the Huron River: measure the river’s economic impact using visitor and business surveys; and assess the positive benefits of the Huron River watershed to people, also known as ecosystem services. The Huron River supports recreation, tourism, and business activities that greatly support the local economy. The majority of this spending is driven by outdoor activity around or near the water.

The second part of the study estimates the ecosystem value of the Huron River. Nature provides vital contributions to economic and social well-being that are often not traded in markets or fully considered in land use, business, and other economic decisions. In the case of a river, these contributions include protection against erosion and flooding, habitat for diverse birds, fish, and mammals, and cultural and aesthetic benefits that come from people’s interactions with nature.

Measuring the economic impact of the Huron River will benefit local partners as well as similar placemaking efforts and water trails around the country. A 2015 survey of impact studies for water trails by the National Park Service found only three reference studies. Water trails in Michigan and around the country through the National Water Trails System are ready to learn from findings on the Huron River Water Trail.economic-output-and-aesthetic-value-pull-quote-web

Since it began in 2012, RiverUp! has contributed more than $2 million in private and public investments to restore and protect the Huron River, revitalize community waterfronts, and increase water-based recreation for all. RiverUp!’s work is leveraged by an additional $40 million in riverfront improvements by partners over that time. This new report provides HRWC and its RiverUp! partners with reliable information on the value of these investments compared to the river-based economy.



River Roundup Show & Tell

Volunteer to study the Huron River! We can’t do it without you.

At HRWC’s River Roundup, our long-running study of the Huron River, volunteers get to know a special place in the Huron’s tributaries, while helping us learn about the river’s health.

River Roundup is an all-age friendly event, where trained volunteers guide small teams in fieldwork to search through river samples for pollution-sensitive ‘bugs’ called macroinvertebrates, that live in our waterways. The event is followed by Insect ID Day where we work inside to identify the species found.
_________________

Volunteer videographer: David Brown

David produced “HRWC River Roundup” from concept to creation and did all the scripting, narrating, directing, filming, music and editing. Thank you David for your support of HRWC and the Huron River!
_________________

With Jason Frenzel, HRWC Stewardship Coordinator and Zaina Al Habash and Laurie Domaleski
_________________

Sign Up! HRWC’s next River Roundup is Saturday, October 14, with Insect ID Day following on Sunday, October 29.



2018 Watershed Community Calendar

You can be an H2O Hero!

The communities of the Huron River watershed have come together to produce another spectacular calendar. Chock full of stunning Huron River photography, stormwater pollution prevention tips and local resources to inspire you to enjoy and protect our beloved river.2018-watershed-community-calendar-cover-lo-res

Our hope is that, just like the H2O Heroes featured in the calendar, you turn inspiration into action. That you do something every day to protect clean water or work with HRWC in 2018 as a volunteer. Your calendar is conveniently marked with the dates of our Winter Stonefly Search, Spring and Fall River Roundups and the kick off training for our summer Water Quality Monitoring program!

How to get your calendar.

By mail.  Ann Arbor and Dexter have already direct-mailed it to most households in their communities.

In person.  Calendars are at these customer service counters:
-Livingston County Drain Commission and Road Commission
-Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission and Road Commission
-City of Ann Arbor
-City of Brighton
-City of Dexter
-City of Wixom2018-watershed-community-calendar-p2-lo-res
-City of Ypsilanti
-Village of Pinckney
-Green Oak Charter Township
-Hamburg Township
-Marion Township
-Pittsfield Charter Township
-Putnam Township
-Charter Township of Ypsilanti

*Barton Hills Village, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Eastern Michigan University and University of Michigan Environment, Health & Safety are also distributing calendars.

From HRWC. Contact Pam Labadie at plabadie@hrwc.org or (734)769-5123 x 602. We can mail a calendar to you for $5 or you can pick one up for free at HRWC in the NEW Center 1100 North Main Street, Ann Arbor, M-F, 8am-5pm.

About the Calendar.

The 2018 Watershed Community 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.



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.
____________

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
_____________

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

8027151587_393c2abe5f_b

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

35195233103_971625504c_k

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.




Donate to HRWC
Coal Tar Sealers
Calendar
Huron River Water Trail
RiverUp
Donate to HRWC
SwiftRun
rss .FaceBook-Logo.twitter-logo Youtubelogo