Loading

Author Archive

Michigan trails get a boost with new legislation

A few weeks ago I promised to share an update on the status of the bills package being considered in Lansing to expand the definition of ‘trails’ to include water trails and provide funding to support trails across the state.

Today, Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills, now Public Acts 210-215 of 2014 that redefines the designation process of special trails in the state and supports the development of a statewide network of multiple use trails and water trails.

The bills give the director of the Department of Natural Resources the authority to name trailways as “Pure Michigan Trails,” water trails as “Pure Michigan Water Trails” and towns as “Pure Michigan Trail Towns,” pending approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. They also allow statewide volunteer activities to include trail enhancement programs in support of trail upkeep and maintenance.

More from the State’s press release here.

Our RiverUp! work includes establishing the Huron River Water Trail and developing Trail Towns in each of 5 largest towns on the river. We’ll all pretty excited here about this new investment that can benefit these efforts. Anita Twardesky, our Trail Towns Coordinator, shares, “What an exciting time for trails in our State! Southeast Michigan is home to many water trails, Trail Town programs and bike paths. Our trail systems are poised to become a great addition to the statewide system.”

We applaud this legislation and look forward to working with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure that Southeast Michigan is well-represented to help showcase our unlimited outdoor recreation activities.

Delhi Rapids on the Huron River Water Trail. Photo courtesy of T. Janiuk

Delhi Rapids on the Huron River Water Trail. Photo courtesy of T. Janiuk

Andrea Kline joins RiverUp!

Huron River Watershed Council A KlineThe Huron River Watershed Council is pleased to announce that Andrea Kline has joined the RiverUp! initiative as Construction Manager. Andrea is responsible for the planning and construction of projects to make river recreation safer and easier at new and rehabilitated trail-heads and portages. The Huron River Water Trail is a project of RiverUp!, the initiative to make the Huron River a new “Main Street” for the river towns where residents and tourists recreate, live, commute, do business, and treasure their riverfronts.

Andrea is a respected figure in landscape architecture and natural resource conservation throughout Michigan with extensive experience in the Southeastern part of the state. In addition to senior positions with The Nature Conservancy-Michigan Chapter, ECT, Inc., and Merit Network, Inc., Andrea has volunteered her time with The Stewardship Network and the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance, serving as a founding member of both groups. Andrea works with RiverUp! Manager Elizabeth Riggs and Trail Towns Coordinator Anita Twardesky to implement priority projects of RiverUp! from Milford to Lake Erie.

The 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. The Huron River Water Trail is a consortium of interested groups and communities, and is a project of the Huron River Watershed Council and RiverUp!.

Investment in Trails Promises Big Payoff

Huron River Watershed CouncilMichigan’s reputation as the #1 Trails State, and Water Trail development, have the potential to grow significantly with increased funding and broader programming through proposed updates to the Michigan Trailways Act.

I have been following these proposed updates of the state’s valuable Trailways Act to a broader statewide network of multi-use trails, including water trails. In March, I testified before the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee in support of the bills package citing the benefits to the Huron River communities located along the Huron River Water Trail. You can read my testimony here.

The updates to the Michigan Trailways Act enjoy broad support from trail users and organizations around the state. However, the $2.5 million appropriations for trails is in jeopardy. The House of Representatives version of the budget removed nearly $11 million from this bill, including the trails funds, from the Executive and Senate versions of the DNR budget for FY 2015. The Conference Committee needs to reconcile the differences. Now is the time to contact the Conference Committee legislators by phone or email to urge restoration of these dollars into the budget. The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance has compiled the contact information and sample comments.

I will share updates and a final outcome here as they become available. 

NOW AVAILABLE: SOHC 2014 Presentations

The State of the Huron Conference 2014 is now history, but you can re-live the excitement by checking out the presentations from the day’s speakers.

Look for a summary of the Conference in the Summer 2014 Huron River Report available June 1st.

Widget SOHC 2014

2014 State of the Huron Conference is this Thursday! Register now!

We are putting together a fantastic conference for you and couldn’t be more excited for the 2014 State of the Huron Conference!

Learn about the focus of the April 24th event including keynote speakers, conference theme, and registration details at www.hrwc.org/sohc2014.

Join us for the only conference dedicated solely to the Huron River where community leaders, planners, scientists, educators, engineers, residents, and business owners engage in a conversation and celebration of this irreplaceable river.

Amy and Dave Freeman will share their enthusiasm for river adventure. credit: D. Freeman

 

Study asks: Is there an easier way to locate at-risk septic systems?

Huron River Watershed Council failing septics MDEQ research

Collapse of a residential septic system tank

Septic systems are essential to rural living.

Communities have standards for their design, construction, and, increasingly, maintenance. Yet, even with those standards, septic systems can fail. When a septic system fails, the polluted water it releases can pose a human health risk, an expensive repair and a water quality problem for groundwater, streams and lakes.

Over the past three years, HRWC led a team of researchers and public health managers in pursuit of a new approach to detect failed septic systems that may reduce pollutants entering the Huron River in Michigan and yield a cost-effective approach for county health departments to monitor and rectify problem septic systems. Pollutants from failing septic systems — pathogens and phosphorus — play a role in the health of the Huron River and its tributary streams located in rural areas.

In fact, one of the more perplexing questions about water pollution in this river has been “how much of a problem are failing septics?”

The overall project goals were to 1) reduce the quantity of phosphorus and bacteria entering the middle Huron River, and 2) develop a cost‐effective approach for monitoring and rectifying problems with septic systems for County Health Departments.

Learn more about the study design and our findings.

Senate approves bill to battle algal blooms

The Senate last night approved legislation from a bipartisan group of lawmakers to boost federal efforts against the harmful algae blooms that haunt many of the nation’s waters.

S. 1254, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and 18 colleagues, would authorize interagency work on algae blooms and the dead zones, suffering from a lack of oxygen, or hypoxia, that they frequently spawn. The legislation would also create a national program with a research plan and action strategy. The legislation also requires the interagency Task Force to: (1) submit within 18 months to Congress and the President an integrated assessment that examines the causes, consequences, and approaches to reduce hypoxia and harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes; and (2) develop and submit to Congress a plan, based on such assessment, for reducing, mitigating, and controlling such hypoxia and blooms.

The upper chamber approved the legislation by unanimous consent.

Algae blooms, a result of nutrient pollution that washes off farm fields and suburban streets and comes from wastewater treatment plants, are an entrenched problem across the United States. Sprawling algae blooms on Florida’s east and west coasts this summer kept people from the water and contributed to the deaths of sea animals, including the highest recorded annual death count for manatees (Greenwire, Dec. 20, 2013). Closer to home, nuisance algal blooms impact Ford Lake and Belleville Lake, impoundments of the Huron River, reducing access to the waters for fishing, swimming, and other outdoor pursuits.

“We can’t sit back and let endangered creatures disappear along with jobs in the fishing industry,” Nelson said when he introduced the legislation in June.

[starbox id="ElizabethRiggs"]

Anita Twardesky joins RiverUp!

LinkedIn profile imageThe Huron River Watershed Council is pleased to announce that  Anita Twardesky has joined the RiverUp! initiative as Trail Towns Coordinator. Anita will guide the five largest communities on the river – Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock – in becoming Trail Towns, trailside and gateway communities that are true recreational destinations. The Huron River Water Trail is a project of RiverUp!, the initiative to make the Huron River a new “Main Street” for the river towns where residents and tourists recreate, live, commute, do business, and treasure their riverfronts.

Anita is an experienced and respected recreation and trails professional. She  also serves as Public Relations & Community Outreach for Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte where she is responsible for promoting outdoor recreation, paddlesports, and the ecotourism in the region. Previously, she served as Parks & Recreation Director for the cities of Woodhaven and Flat Rock. Her appointments include co-chair of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, Chair of the Trails Committee for the Michigan Recreation & Parks Association, and a member of the State Wide Advisory Group Michigan Water Trails.

The 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. The Huron River Water Trail is a consortium of interested groups and communities, and is a project of the Huron River Watershed Council and RiverUp!.

Do You Need a Fishing License for That?

In case you need more evidence that storm drains really do connect directly to streams and rivers, spend the next minute watching a young man fishing in his neighborhood storm drain. The video, and others like it, are courtesy of Kyle Naegeli of Texas via his YouTube channel. Tips for protecting water quality in curb and gutter areas include capturing rain water at home and limiting salt use on sidewalks and driveways. Check out more tips on our website under Take Action.

Still from Kyle Naegeli’s fishing video

 

Looking for signs of RiverUp! around the Great Lakes

chicago lakefront

Strolling along Lake Michigan, Chicago

I grew up in Milwaukee, which means that during my childhood I assumed every city smelled of malted barley, yeast, and hops, ended the work week with Friday night fish fries, and designed their waterfronts for walking, biking, kite flying, sunbathing, swimming, dining, boating, and music and ethnic festivals.

Not until I was a bit older and had done some traveling did I notice that some cities embraced their position on the water and some (unfathomably!) had turned their backs to it. While traveling to several waterfront cities this fall, I have been reminded of what a special place my hometown is for the foresight of the city’s planners to provide beautiful spaces for people to experience Lake Michigan. I have also been reminded of the power of HRWC’s work with river towns and partners on RiverUp! to create a renaissance for the Huron River and turn our villages and cities to face – and embrace — the water.

So what of my observations of these waterfront cities? Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Cleveland, like Milwaukee, necessarily utilize at least portions of their waterfront for trade and commerce. Industrial uses aside, I was on the lookout for how these places physically connect people to the water and the waterfront to downtown.

Chicago does an admirable job of connecting people and downtown to Lake Michigan even amid the skyscrapers. The city’s investment in landscaping and trail maintenance along the waterfront is rewarded by the throngs of people enjoying this space between downtown and the water. A morning run along the lake was a treat for me since I miss living next to a Great Lake.

Grand Rapids is on a quest similar to RiverUp! through its revitalization of downtown that includes returning the rapids to the Grand River. The city, with its limited water frontage, will be challenged to incorporate more green space between the river and downtown that can provide a respite for city dwellers and ecological benefits at the river’s edges. But the motivation and the private and public investment focused on the city should take this city’s re-birth far.

Cleveland still mostly has its back on Lake Erie. In Cleveland, unlike Milwaukee and Chicago, downtown beaches, recreational paths, and open public green spaces are lacking. Rather, the space between the water and downtown is mostly paved and occupied by a stadium and industrial uses. I try to go for a run in most places that I visit for my own fitness and as a great way to experience a place. I had hoped for a waterfront route but had to bail on that idea when the hotel desk clerk (a runner herself) indicated that such a route was neither safe nor accessible on foot nor very scenic. I’d love to see Cleveland take a page from Milwaukee and celebrate its location on the Great Lake Erie. This city has its gems, to be sure, and the waterfront could be the most dazzling jewel in the crown.

Which cities do you think celebrate their waterfronts?


Donate to HRWC
Suds
Summer Recreation 2014
SingleFly
Donate to HRWC
Huron River Water Trail
Calendar
RiverUp
Portage Creek Project
Save Water Save Energy
Follow Us!
rss .FaceBook-Logo.twitter-logo