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.
Chances are good that if you’re a regular to HRWC blogs, then you’ve already heard about Senate Bill 78 that would prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from taking actions that achieve or maintain biological diversity. In doing so, it would prevent the department from carrying out a central tenet of its mission to conserve and protect our natural resources. Biological diversity is critical to our environmental legacy and to the health of the Huron River system.
The bill has passed the full Senate primarily along party-lines, despite the opposition of residents, professors from a number of Michigan’s universities, and environmental and conservation organizations.
Aside from restricting the ability of the DNR to make decisions based on a basic scientific principle, the legislation could also jeopardize Michigan’s ability to receive federal funding for forest management, endanger our forest certifications and put at risk areas of our state that have long been appreciated by Michigan residents for outdoor recreation and their scenic beauty.
The bill is now on its way to the House Natural Resources Committee. To share your views and concerns about SB 78, tell your State Representative to contact Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, Chairwoman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and urge her to stop this bill.
SB 78 is anything but Pure Michigan.
For additional reading on this issue, we recommend the following links:
“State Senate bill puts forests at risk of disease, pests, environmentalists say.” Detroit Free Press.
“Legislation redefining conservation puts Michigan’s diversity of nature at risk: MEC Commentary.” Detroit Free Press
“Anti-Biodiversity Bill hearings Continue.” MEC blog: http://michigandistilled.org/
Title: Huron River Water Trail Partners Meeting
Location: NEW Center, South Conference Room, 1100 N Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI
Description: Quarterly meeting of the Huron River Water Trail Partners. This meeting will focus on accessibility concerns and solutions for adaptive launches with guest speakers from the Downriver Limb Loss Support Group and KBE Precision Products, regional distributor of the E-Z Dock Launch system; and on the re-design of the website for the Water Trail with The Greenway Collaborative, Inc. Trail Towns Representatives and Partners will share their progress on the Water Trail development.
Start Time: 09:00
End Time: 11:30
While my co-workers are out of the office celebrating the holidays, the first real snowfall and the days growing longer, I am celebrating by myself — at my desk.
I am thrilled to give you a sneak preview of the Huron River Water Trail Paddler’s Companion.
After months of work, the 40-page Companion is ready for the printing press. You’ll be able to pick up your own copy starting with our table at the Quiet Water Symposium on March 2nd at Michigan State University.
Look for more details in 2013 on our website!
I am grateful to a friend of the river who shared this message in response to the heartrending events in Newtown, CT. May the holiday season and time in the wild places bring some peace to you and the world.
We give of ourselves to the cause of Nature for many reasons. But when the world turns dark, this poem by Wendell Berry reminds that we preserve wild places because of the solace that we can find there:
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.
In 1972, the Huron River Watershed Council was a seven-year-old organization with a staff of one part-time director caring for a river that changed color (and odor) depending on which industry was dumping waste water into it.
Forty years later, a full-time Executive Director oversees a staff of ten professionals who study, plan, implement and facilitate for the benefit of the Huron River and its communities. Quantifying the impact of the Clean Water Act of 1972 on this watershed is challenging yet undeniable.
Since the 1990s, when the US EPA began awarding grants through the provisions of the Clean Water Act, HRWC has received about 24 grants valued at over $3,000,000 that reach into all communities of the watershed with the unifying goal of making the river more swimmable, fishable and drinkable. These grants have restored creeks, protected high quality streams, and developed forward-looking plans that commit stakeholders to restoration and protection actions.
Add to those impressive numbers the low-interest loans and grants awarded to HRWC’s partners for drinking water, waste water and storm water infrastructure improvements, and the investment in the Huron River watershed through the Clean Water Act is unmatched. Of course, the Act provides more than financial resources; it gives citizens and communities a tool to advocate for and expect clean water.
In this auspicious year of presidential and local elections, learning about the Clean Water Act is an important step to understanding its reach and value. The US EPA, the federal agency primarily responsible for implementing the Act, highlights the 40th anniversary, as well.
HRWC is honored to share the podium on October 18th at a 40th Anniversary Celebration of this landmark legislation with one of its architects, Congressman John Dingell, on the banks of the Huron River in Flat Rock.
Everyone is invited to be a part of history at Huroc Park (Arsenal and Huron Streets) where the Congressman will make remarks and be joined by other speakers including HRWC Executive Director Laura Rubin and Elizabeth Riggs for RiverUp!
Rain or shine, friends of the Huron and fresh water everywhere will come together to celebrate the Act’s legacy and share hopes for the future.
For the past year and some change, HRWC has been partnering with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and the Wolfpack to spark a river renaissance known as RiverUp! Our goal is a vibrant, robust and restored river that’s a destination for residents and tourists.
Learn about the ambitious renaissance underway for the Huron River.
Download the full-color report to read about year one accomplishments and the plans for the next three years:
- Making investments in river recreation with the Huron River Water Trail
- Stimulating local economies and improving the river’s health by remediating legacy pollution sites and locating river-friendly businesses along its shore
- Transforming the river corridor through linkages of hike-bike trails, art trails, natural areas and vital downtowns
Grab a paddle and join us in this boat. There’s room enough for everyone.
Photo: Huron River by Barbara Eckstein.
It can happen anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.
Most recently, it happened on Saturday morning at a petting farm with Amy and Brian and another guy whose name I don’t remember. Youngish parents of preschoolers gathered around cake and juice boxes to celebrate a nearly-minted 4-year-old and engaged in small talk. Who’s your child? Where do you live? What do you do? It was my turn and, predictably, I said, “I work for a research and education organization called the Huron River Watershed Council.” The guy who isn’t Brian cocked his head to one side and asked, “What is a watershed?”
To be honest, the question surprised me. In hyper-educated, “green” Ann Arbor, I expected that these peers would be ready to talk the fresh water lingo. So, while my internal dialogue was decidedly less polished and more animated, I recognized the conversation for the reality check that it was and responded in kind. A thoughtful riff on the drought and low water levels followed as we finished the last forkfuls of cake.
Ask my daughter what she remembers about her friend’s party and she’ll say the baby animals. For my part, I’ll think of the reminder I received from the party-goers that most people in the watershed are stewards-in-waiting.
For a small staff of 10, we have more than our share of slightly obsessed runners. Conversations that contain phrases like “tempo run,” “PR,” “foam roller,” and “physical therapy” can be overheard most days. Thus, it was only a matter of time before one of us figured how to connect running with the river.
Enter the Olympics.
Anyone who follows track and field knows that Michigan boasts a considerable number of connections to the Olympians representing the U.S. and many other countries in the 2012 London Olympic Games — Dathan Ritzenhein (10,000 meters), Desi Davila (marathon), Todd Porter (110 meter hurdles), and Nick Willis (1,500 meters), to name a few. Nick Willis, the 1,500 meter silver-medalist in 2008 Beijing Olympics representing New Zealand, lives, trains, and coaches in Ann Arbor. When he recently shared his Favorite Running Spots in town via Facebook, we couldn’t help but notice that the Huron River and its tributaries figure prominently in the list. Names of the waterways are added in parentheses.
Ann Arbor residents: So many amazing places to run in town!
1 – River trails between Barton Dam and Main street Dam (Huron River)
2 – Bird Hills (Huron River)*
3 – Arboretum (Huron River)
4 – Trails from Leslie Science Center to North Park (Traver Creek)
5 – Radrick Golf Course (Fleming Creek)
6 – Lillie Park
7 – County Farm Park (Malletts Creek)
8 – Eberwhite Woods (Allens Creek)
9 – Gallup Park (Huron River)
10 – Dirt roads behind Barton Hills (Huron River)
11 – Pioneer HS Cross Country course connecting to trails across 7th Street
That’s not even counting all the State Parks within a 25 minute drive (Island Lake, Brighton, Maybury).
Can we claim that healthy rivers make elite track and field athletes? Perhaps not. But rivers sure make for better training runs (and casual walks) for the aesthetic and spiritual inspiration they lend.
Hope to see you enjoying the river and our local creeks during your next workout. You may even spot an Olympian if you can make out the blur that just passed you.
* Blogger’s note: Personal experience compels me to tell you to watch for sneaky tree roots.
People are talking and writing about the newly completed portage on the Huron River!
The RiverUp! initiative proudly announces the official re-opening of the portage around Superior Dam. The new portage features a low dock for canoe and kayak take-out, a graded gravel path, and new sheltered launch area in quiet waters. And the rustic black willow bench really ties the portage site together.
The portage improvements are the result of the generous support of Thomas Buhr and John Carver, and coordination and cooperation from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, City of Ann Arbor, and Superior Township. The portage was officially re-opened recently with a ribbon cutting and champagne toasts. New way-finding signs sporting the Huron River Water Trail logo debuted at the site, as well.
Paddlers, enjoy the new safe and accessible portage. And while you are there, please leave only footprints and clean-up any debris you find to show the good stewardship of the paddling community.