For this edition of News to Us, learn about water pollution issues related to septic systems in Michigan and how you can help prevent pollution. It is burn season as new vegetation emerges after a long winter. Prescribed fire is used to help control some of our most aggressive non-native plants such as Phragmites. Finally, a few success stories on how anyone from individuals to corporations can take actions to protect water resources.
Michigan has nation’s weakest regulations on septic systems Michigan lacks the regulatory means to ensure septic systems are operating properly. Failing septic systems release wastewater and sewage into soils which can end up in our ground and surface waters causing issues associated with excess nutrients and bacterial contamination. Many of the homes in the Huron River watershed are on septic systems. A few local counties have inspection and repair requirements at the time of home sale, which helps. Regular pumping and inspection of your system is the best way to ensure your system is not contributing to water pollution issues. Here is a useful guide for homeowners on septic systems.
Thousands of failed septic tanks threaten Michigan’s waters In a related article, learn more generally about Michigan’s issues with failing septic systems and the Huron River’s ranking in a recent study out of Michigan State University examining fecal contamination in water from septic tanks. Learn more about HRWC’s Failing Septics project, which takes a different approach to identify and correct problems.
Phragmites all fired up Phragmites is a tall grass that invades wet areas crowding out native plants and drying up wetlands. Prescribed fire (an intentional, controlled burn) is a management tool to help control the invasion of this nuisance plant. Prescribed fires are common this time of year and provide many benefits to our natural areas.
Green City Diaries: Conserving water, improving neighborhood life Read an inspiring story about how two local residents are taking simple steps toward water conservation in their neighborhood and home.
Scotts drops phosphorus from lawn fertilizer Waterways across the country breathe a sigh of relief as one of the major lawn fertilizer companies drops phosphorus from its formula. Most soils have sufficient phosphorus to maintain healthy lawns. Excess phosphorus in water results in algal and plant growth that can quickly reach harmful levels. Michigan has been pro-active on this issue already banning phosphorous in lawn fertilizers. It is nice to see nationwide action to reduce the impacts of this pollutant.
Take a survey to help inform the Parks and Recreation Commission master plan.
You’re on the golf course, and you’re about to take your next shot. Your eyes narrow on the flag. You take a few deep breaths and let them out. Listen to the wind and the birds sing. You swing your club and it whistles through the air. Your friend shakes his head. He knows he lost yet another round. You look around and glory in your success. Isn’t it great that you have this area in which you can play golf, enjoy the sun, and witness your friends lose? Now imagine if this didn’t exist…
The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission is working on a master plan that acts as a guide to the development and operation of the county’s parks, preserves, and other recreational activities. Included in these activities are multiple recreation centers, water parks, and — you guessed it! — a golf course. In order to manage these areas to the best of their ability, they need information from you!
You can fill out their survey here: Washtenaw County Parks Survey. By giving your feedback, YOU can have a direct say in how your parks will be managed.
Plus, you can enter a drawing to win one of several prizes. Five lucky participants will receive one of the following: a pass to the Rolling Hills Water Park or Independence Lake’s Blue Heron Bay Spray Zone; Yearly Vehicle Entry Pass; a round of golf at Pierce Lake Golf Course; or a day pass to the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center.
If you have any other questions or additional comments, you can contact Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation office via phone at 734-971-6337 or via email at email@example.com.
This past weekend we were delighted to host our first summer recreation event of the season. Despite the drastic change in weather from Saturday to Sunday, we endured and were able to capture beautiful photos along the Huron River. Our hosts for this weekends workshop, Michael Seabrook and Marc Akemann, provided instructional lectures and insight for obtaining professional nature photographs.
After their lectures we were able to put our newly learned skills to test and apply them in the field at Barton Nature Area and Delhi Metropark. Participants ventured around the parks looking to capture unique images, and were given the opportunity of having Michael and Marc help them capture the image the way they wanted. Afterwards Michael and Marc offered their experience in photo editing for those who wished to polish up some of their images. To top off this weekend’s events we were lucky to have world-renowned photographer and local Ann Arbor resident, Howard Bond, on Sunday to provide a lecture on positive and negative space; as well as provide a slide show of his favorite photos.
This workshop is the first of two that we are hosting this year. The next Watershed Photo Workshop is the weekend of October 19th & 20th. Register now to learn the basic techniques for taking great nature photos—obtaining correct exposures, controlling the depth-of-field, making sharper photos, customizing your camera to do what you want it to, and more. All skill levels are welcome.
Visit our Facebook page for more photos from this weekends workshop.
More information and registration for other summer recreation events HERE.
Join us this summer for our Fly Fishing Lessons, June 1st & 2nd, with the help of Mike Mouradian of Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited (AATU). Mike will be teaching casting, knot tying, fly identification, and entomology; along with experienced instructors from AATU. This year we will be hosting the lessons at Lillie Park North in Ann Arbor, MI.
Rods, flies, fly fishing instruction book, and snacks will be provided. Bring a pair of polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, and wear appropriate clothing for the weather. We practice fly casting on the lawn, so waders will not be necessary. We are offering women, family, and general classes to better suit your learning needs. Remember, each class is limited to 15 participants and registration is required for participation. Join us and acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities that foster a summer of fun on the river!
Visit our Summer Events page for more information and how to register.
Summer weather provides many chances to get outside and explore the world we live in. If populated beaches aren’t your idea of summer fun but you still want to enjoy Michigan’s fresh waters; join us for our summer paddling trips and HRWC will take you on the path less traveled.
This year we are offering five unique paddle trips at various locations along the beautiful Huron River. Each of the paddling trips is either led by Huron River guides Barry Lonik or Ron Sell and the HRWC staff will also be participating in the paddle adventures.
The recreational value of each trip is worthwhile, and the first-hand educational opportunities are second-to-none! Each trip includes discussion regarding the river’s water ecology, history, and unique features. The first paddling trip is May, 18th and will take us from Proud Lake State Recreation Area to Downtown Milford’s Central Park. Ann Arbor Ornithologist, Dea Armstrong will be joining us on this paddle to provide her insight of the regional birds we encounter. Registration is limited to ten watercrafts for each trip, and we provide the shuttle.
Visit the Summer Events page for more information on each trip, and how to register to ensure a boat-load of summer fun!
FLAT ROCK — The culmination of more than 10 years of work will be recognized at 4 p.m. today at Huroc Park with the groundbreaking for the Flat Rock-Oakwoods connector trail. HRWC will be there to celebrate the work of many partners over the past decade who made this important link happen. In addition, we’ll kickoff the Huron River Water Trail Paddlers Companion in this Trail Town.
Sponsored by the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, the one-mile trail will be the final piece of the east-west connector trail. The project includes construction of the path from Huroc Park to Oakwoods Metropark in Huron Township, work at a railroad crossing and route signage.
Funding for the $684,300 trail is provided by federal funds and a local match from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources.
The 24-mile east-west route stretches from Belleville Lake to the shores of Lake Erie. It encompasses nearly 20,000 acres, runs through four metroparks and follows the Huron River. In fact, just a few undeveloped trail miles in Van Buren Charter Township separates the downriver route from the Border to Border Trail system in Washtenaw County, an eventual 35-mile contiguous non-motorized path along the Huron River.
The ceremony will feature remarks from Rodney Stokes, special adviser for city placemaking for Gov. Rick Snyder; Vince Ranger, grant coordinator for the Michigan Department of Transportation; Mayor Jonathan Dropiewski; Tom Woiwode, Community Foundation Southeast Michigan’s Greenways Initiative director; John McCulloch, Huron-Clinton Metroparks director; Elizabeth Riggs, Huron River Watershed Council deputy director; and Anita Twardesky, co-chair of greenways initiative.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-12th District) is invited to attend.
Join us today at 4 p.m. to help celebrate the realization of a vision where residents and visitors come together to live, work and play on the shores of the Huron River.
Just in time for spring renewal, this edition of News to Us highlights several stories that have positive implications for our river and rivers throughout Michigan. Greenways, volunteer opportunities, and a growing demand for dam removal are chronicled. Also read about some of the implications of the high waters and flooding of our extremely wet April.
FLAT ROCK: Groundbreaking scheduled for final stretch of Flat Rock-Oakwoods connector trail We are blessed with extensive trail systems along the Huron River. With the addition of this final mile of trail in Flat Rock, there will now be 24 miles of contiguous trail from Belleville Lake to Lake Erie. It is amenities like this that help get people to the river and enjoying the outdoors which is one of the goals of HRWC’s RiverUP! project.
Let the river run: Dam removal accelerates across Michigan Read a nice summary of dams and dam removal efforts in Michigan. There is growing interest and funding to support the removal of aging dams that have outlived their original purpose. Dam removal is one of the tools of river restoration which helps support healthy populations of species that thrive in running waters like salmon, trout and walleye.
DNR reminds anglers of high water safety on rivers It is a popular time on the river for anglers. Fish are on the move which is an exciting time to fish. At the same time, with the recent rains, the river is running high and fast. Take caution when recreating in the river while waters remain high.
It’s good to get your hands dirty Volunteers are the life blood of many environmental non-profits. The Huron River Watershed Council is no exception. The beauty of volunteering is that both the organization and the volunteer experience benefits. This article highlights several local non-profits discussing the value of volunteering. Visit our Volunteer page to learn about volunteering with HRWC.
ANN ARBOR: City gets river clean-up grants worth more than $39,000 Several river clean up events will be happening in Ann Arbor this summer thanks to a grant from the DEQ. If you are interested in volunteering to help remove trash from the river, this article lets you know how.
Grand Rapids officials looking ahead to next big storm Throughout Michigan, we have had a very wet April. We watched the Huron rise and fall but we were spared much of the flooding experienced on the west side of the state. This article discusses Grand Rapid’s response to this years’ flooding. They are thinking now about ways to protect against future events which are predicted to become more common. Learn more about how we are working with communities in the Huron to build resilience to severe weather events affecting the river and residents here.
My Pinckney-Ann Arbor commute along Huron River Drive to work at HRWC has been a little waterlogged lately, but it has been nice to see some signs of spring. One harbinger of spring is higher water flow in the Huron River, and this week you need a canoe to sit on the riverbank benches at Delhi. The rapids there are really roaring!
I stopped at Barton Dam, where the water flow was crazy and this big foam glob was creeping across the pathway.
Further downstream, rafts of foam bumped against the riverbanks. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this wasn’t because someone dumped 50 gallons of Tide into Barton Pond.
Luckily, I work at the Huron River Watershed Council! And, we had a newsletter article back in 2005, cleverly titled “What IS that?,” which addressed this very question. Organic compounds released by decomposing plants and animals lessen the surface tension of the water. When lots of oxygen is introduced – from water flowing over a waterfall, or wave action, or dams – foam can form. On a warmer day, I might have scooped up a handful for closer inspection. It would have smelled slightly of decaying plants and probably dead fish.
A few more photos of my drive this morning are below. If you want more information on some of the odd water conditions you might be seeing and what they mean, check out this article from our 2005 Huron River Report
Good news . . .
State Attorney General Bill Schuette has weighed in on a constitutional guarantee that the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) can only be used for protecting our natural resources for future generations. Use of the MNRTF for dredging had been threatened and the Attorney General’s opinion is a decisive action to stop this pressure. The largest threat came from a bill that has passed the State Senate that would make dredging a permissible use for the fund.
With great lakes levels at record low levels the State Legislature has already approved an emergency $21 million from the general fund and the Michigan State Waterways Fund.
I applaud the decision. MNRTF monies are intended “to preserve and protect Michigan’s bountiful resources for generations to come” which means the purchase and development of parks and natural areas for the residents of Michigan. Hopefully this will put to rest the regular political tactics to raid the fund . . . at least it’s a strong defense!
There is no Wi-Fi on the river but we promise you a better connection.
As we bid winter a fond farewell, we warmly embrace the upcoming summer months! We are offering a variety of events this summer to get you outside and in-touch with nature. Beginning in May we are proud to have our first event, the Watershed Photo Workshop, which is offered in October as well. Each workshop, in May & October, will consist of two half-day classes. Come prepared to get hands-on experience in the field, and learn basic techniques for taking great nature photos.
We also have two Birding events planned to give a better understanding of the journey that migratory birds take when traveling through our area.
If you are hungry for watershed knowledge, join us for guided nature walks throughout the Huron River. We have three different walks planned to familiarize you with current efforts to protect watershed quality and provide information on the ecology as well.
If you crave a more hands-on summer recreation experience, we have five paddle trips planned to meet your needs. Our paddle trip in July is a special evening paddle in celebration of the Full Moon. Each trip includes discussion regarding the river’s water ecology, history, and unique features.
If paddling isn’t your thing but you still want to enjoy the Huron River, we are proud to welcome back the annual Baseline Lake Swim. If you are up for the challenge, we are offering an optional two-mile swim along with the traditional one-mile swim.
And Attention fishermen of all levels, you won’t be missing out on the fun this summer. We are offering Fly Fishing Lessons that will help to get you started for a summer on the river. You will have the chance to put those Fly Fishing skills to the test at our annual Single Fly Tournament, pick your best fly and fish it till you lose it! As you can see, there are a lot of options to get outside and involved with your community. I hope to see you on the watershed this summer, happy trails!
Registration is required for most of the events, so don’t delay! For more information on each event and how to register for them, visit HERE.