Archive for the ‘Adopt-A-Stream’ Category
- A beautiful Huron River, where it crosses Zeeb Road. credit: John Lloyd
- Dave Wilson samples Woods Creek! credit: Nate Antieau
- Digging through the muck of Port Creek. credit: Mark Schaller
- A quick break for the camera! credit: John Lloyd
- "Do you see anything?" credit: John Lloyd
Bring on the “brrr!”
On January 26, 110 intrepid volunteers faced the harsh winter elements and spread across the Huron River watershed in search of stoneflies, which are only found in clean and healthy streams. Everyone made it back safe, which is the number one priority, and it seemed that a good time was had by all.
In 2012 the Stonefly Search volunteers had to deal with melting snow and flood conditions, but this year we had a deep freeze in the week preceeding the Search, and most of the teams had to break their way through the ice in order to sample the stream macroinvertebrates. Despite this challenging problem, stoneflies were found in great abundance at many locations. The results are in, and are given in this pdf report.
1. The status quo is being maintained for most of the sampling sites. Sites that have had stoneflies in the past are still able to support them, and sites that were not healthy enough to hold stoneflies still do not have them. That being said, we did see a few changes this year which are detailed below.
2. Four sites had the best stonefly samples that had ever been seen at those locations: Chilson Creek at Chilson Road, Fleming Creek at Galpin Road, the Huron River at Flat Rock, and Woodruff Creek at Buno Road. At each of these sites, the stoneflies normally found at the location were there, but also new stonefly families were found that had never been seen there before! A greater diversity of stoneflies indicates greater stream health. These are promising results and hopefully it will continue into longer term trends.
3. The team searching for stoneflies in Woods Creek in Belleville came back disappointed. Wood’s Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark has been sampled 12 times since 1997, and this is the first time that stoneflies could not be found. The problem likely comes from the thick ice and difficult conditions rather than pollution or disturbed stream habitat, but we will keep an eye on Wood’s Creek next year.
4. Traver Creek is a stream in north Ann Arbor that has typical urban stream problems- in particular, flashy flows and runoff, oil, and sediment from roads. In the past couple of years, part of the train track berm washed out and released a large plume of sediment to Traver Creek. However, we were pleased that both of the sites sampled on Traver Creek this year turned up stoneflies. The sites were both upstream and downstream of the wash-out.
Next on the horizon!
Interested in doing more with our macroinvertebrate searches? Think about becoming a trained leader or collector by coming to the next training on March 24. This is an extremely important job because every team needs both a trained leader and collector, and we often do not have enough to meet the demand. Sign up for the training!
Saturday turned out to be a lovely day for HRWC’s Stonefly Search. 110 volunteers returned safely from the field after successfully accomplishing their mission. These hardy souls endured the snow, enjoyed the sun (briefly), had fun breaking through the ice, and learned about the Huron and the critters who live here. Interesting finds included a slumbering frog, mute swans, and Canada geese (not to mention lots and lots of insects). Look for a detailed report from Paul Steen regarding the Stonefly results. Until then, here is a bit of verse to paint a picture of how the day went for many…
Winter Stoneflies in Arctic Michigan
By Dave Wilson
We don our coats and boots, go forth to break the ice
In frigid, frosty weather that no one could say is nice
We flounder through the streams in search of a great prize
Taeniopterids and Capniids, precious winter stone flies
Winter stones are quite the thing
Though one surely might be wondering
How these tiny creatures could ever be so bold
As to live and thrive in this bitter winter cold
Paul tells us that in winter these critters really thrive
Cold water holds the oxygen to keep them all alive
And winter is helpful in another major way
The cold keeps fierce predators so very far away
Quite sensitive to any water pollution,
Winter stones provide a quick solution
If we find ‘em we can be sure
That the stream is sweet and pure
The critters are small and rather dark
In this frigid weather they have a lark
Scamper about in the ice and snow
There’s no other place for them to go
To ID them here’s what you do
Look for wingpads four and cerci two
Along the flanks no gills are found
And on each leg two claws astound
The ice is thick, the water chills,
With cold I’m fed up to the gills
But none could say that we are quitters
We’ll search ‘til we find those little critters
Believe me, I know whereof I speak
You’ll find out fast if your waders leak
One hears screams of pain from the bravest jocks
When that icy water hits their socks
Collectors and runners can stay in motion
Stay warmer thus, I have a notion
But picking requires that one stand still
Can be quite bleak, cause many a chill
Don’t go on ice unless waders you wear
If you’re not wearing waders your weight it won’t bear
If you should venture this dumb thing to do
I guarantee you’ll surely break through
Let me warn you right now; listen up and take heed
Bring twice the wraps you think that you’ll need
That usually turns out to be about right
So that you are not left in a piteous plight
A jug of warm water is always quite pleasing
Helps to keep that D-net from freezing
And stout rubber gloves keep collectors’ hands dry
Help a great deal when frostbite is nigh
On these trips a truly most gracious amenity
May help the participants keep some of their sanity
A big jug of cocoa sure hits the spot
Beloved by all if it’s nice and hot.
Through the summer of 2012 Dave Wilson, Lee Burton, Janet Kahan, and Alison and Graham Battersby worked tirelessly to improve our education programming materials and lessons.
This autumn’s educator training saw a huge increase in our volunteer capacity. These new volunteers quickly jumped in, shadowing and leading alongside our wonderful existing volunteers.
Events at numerous schools in Ann Arbor, as well as Pinckney, had area students learning through hands-on activities about stream speed, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, erosion,
habitats, and – of course – benthic macroinvertebrates.
With lots of new volunteers, we’re now welcoming a few new schools into our programming. If your middle school or high school science class is interested, please let Jason Frenzel know, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, a big thanks to TOYOTA for their support of this program.
This Sunday HRWC and Schultz Outfitters hosted river cleanups near Dexter, in Ypsilanti and south of South Rockwood. A couple dozen volunteers hauled out an impressive amount of garbage. Special thanks to Kermit Jones and Mike Schultz for their coordination; HCMA, City of Ypsilanti, Lakepointe Marina, South Rockwood, A&J Maintenance, and Rockwood Family Restaurant for hauling away garbage; Skips Canoe Livery for hauling people around; and REI for financial support.
Tuesday morning started off soggy, cool, and breezy, but our new education program volunteers stuck out the weather and we all learned a lot from each other. This training adds 40% more volunteers to this program which brings HRWC’s expertise and mission to local schools. Thanks to TOYOTA for their financial support of this program.
Part 4 of 5: ABC’s Silver Creek Ale
“Thanks for hosting these fun events! I’m enjoying all of the good energy going on between folks! I also am gaining a palate for beer…GOOD beer! I’ve never liked beer before…” ~Yael Ganet
Last week we had another fantastic brew outing, at Grizzly Peak! Duncan (all fingers still somewhat intact after a screen door incident) welcomed us with a fantastic brew. Many of our passport contestants made it back – I think our numbers are starting to drop a bit, so hang in there if you’ve made it to all three!
This week we’ll join Logan Schaedig, Head Brewer, at Arbor Brewing Company. ABC is located at 114 East Washington in downtown Ann Arbor. We will spend the evening in the game room, which has darts and tabletop shuffleboard.
Logan has brewed us up a batch of Silver Creek Ale with 20 pounds of Michigan Cherries. This slightly tart beverage should be perfect for our shortening summer days! For more information on Silver Creek (the place and the ale) see here.
Logan started working at Corner Brewery and worked his way up the ranks to Head Brew over the past five years. A year and a half ago Logan built a brewery in Ecuador from scratch. He helped build the kiln, bar, and tanks, while learning to malt his own barley. Noting, “I am in a position to brew all over the world”, he is excited to help with ABC’s India project.
Hope to see you on Thursday!
Yesterday the Malletts Creek Coordinating Committee was led on a field trip by the City of Ann Arbor’s Nick Hutchinson to the Willard Street porous pavement reconstruction. Porous pavement has many advantages including greatly reduced (if not completely eliminated) stormwater runoff. To see a video of the new pavement in action check out this video: http://youtu.be/QqWkXzrftHU
The MCCC is a formal organization that meets monthly to review projects that have direct or indirect impact on the Malletts Creek. Direct impacts such as the Malletts Creek restoration projects in Mary Beth Doyle and County Farm Parks are part of the committee’s action plans. Indirect impacts such as all development proposals within the creekshed are reviewed and commented on by the committee. Members of the committee are representatives from the City of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, UM, professional environmental consultants, the Malletts Creek Association (citizen group), and HRWC.
Huron River at White Lake Road!!!
For the 18th year in a row, the Huron River at White Lake Road had far-and-away the healthiest “bug” population as determined by HRWC’s semi-annual macroinvertebrate collection event. This location is in Indian Springs Metropark in Oakland County and is very near to the uppermost headwaters of the river. HRWC has highlighted this section of the river many times, but the site does deserve the attention. HRWC volunteers have found rare insects here numerous times and consistently find many insect families that only live in the most pristine of waters.
Let’s take a step back…
On April 21, one-hundred forty adventurous volunteers spread across the Huron River watershed to collect benthic macroinvertebrates: the crustaceans, insects, and mollusks that live in our creeks and rivers. Typically, only the healthiest streams will have abundant and diverse populations. Polluted streams and other streams that are heavily impacted by human activities will hold fewer of these creatures, and may only contain the most pollution tolerant types. By watching the long-term trends of these populations, HRWC can tell where pollution may be becoming a problem and that helps direct HRWC’s time and effort.
Overall watershed assessment
In order to get an overall sense of the health of the Huron River Watershed, HRWC samples macroinvertebrates from sixty-four 300 foot sections of the creeks and rivers. The sampling sites have been selected to provide equal geographic representation from the various areas throughout the watershed.
In regards to how the macroinvertebrate populations are changing at these sites:
- 34 sites have remained largely unchanged since monitoring began on them
- 9 sites have improved
- 11 sites have declined
- 10 sites are new to the program and cannot be judged until more data is collected.
In regards to their overall quality:
- 3 sites are excellent (The best, most pristine areas)
- 15 sites are good (Their macroinvertebrate populations are higher than we would expect based on the stream size, water temperature, and stream substrate).
- 24 sites are fair (Their macroinvertebrate populations are slightly lower than we would expect based on the stream size, water temperature, and stream substrate)
- 10 sites are poor (Pollution and other human impacts have severely damaged the macroinvertebrate populations at these sites)
- 10 sites are new to the program and cannot be judged until more data is collected.
Other noteworthy results:
1) South Ore Creek (Livingston County, flowing through and near Brighton) has never had great macroinvertebrate populations since HRWC began sampling here. This is a populated area of the Huron River watershed and is negatively affected by a variety of human impacts, including dams and subdivisions. Our April results show that things may be getting worse: the insect counts in 2 of the 3 sample sites on South Ore Creek are declining significantly, and the third site was already one of the worst places we monitor in Livingston County.
2) Boyden Creek (Washtenaw County, flowing through and around the Loch Alpine neighborhood) is showing the opposite trend. This is also a populated area of the Huron River watershed, and is also impacted by dams and subdivisions, but the data show that the macroinvertebrate populations have been getting significantly better over time. The similarities between Boyden Creek and South Ore Creek are interesting given that their macroinvertebrate populations are changing in opposite directions. This contrast is a bit confounding and is something to study further.
3) Congratulations to all of our Wood Creek Friends! Woods Creek at the Lower Huron River Metropark (Wayne County, near Belleville) had its best fall sample ever in 2011, and in this 2012 sample season it had its best spring sample ever. This sample was composed of fifteen insect families, including two families of stoneflies. The data now show significant improvement to the insect populations at this site.
Are you interested in getting into the water this summer?We want you to join a team that will measure and map a stream site this summer! Learn to “read a river” by characterizing the bed, the banks and other indicators of stream health. Training for this program will be on August 5! See our volunteer page for more information!
Find insects, crayfish and other small river creatures in the Huron River.
Join the Huron River Watershed Council’s River RoundUp: Saturday, April 21.
Bring a small team with your friends and family, or join others, for a unique activity in the Huron River Roundup. Collect a sample of the bugs and other creatures (benthic macroinvertebrates) that live in our streams. Like canaries in a coal mine, these creatures tell us how healthy the river and creeks are.
Trained volunteer collectors take you to two stream sites, where you help search through stones, leaves, and sediment. The amount of life in our fresh water is amazing. Volunteers meet in Ann Arbor and then go to two sites; one may be near their home. You must register early to be assigned to a team.
Children are welcome to attend with their own adult.
WHERE: Meet in Ann Arbor. Then car pool to two streams in Livingston, Oakland, Wayne and/or Washtenaw Counties.
WHEN: Two times: April 21; 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM, or 10:30 AM to 5 PM
DEADLINE: Registration closes April 16
First Time volunteer? Fill out this form: www.hrwc.org/volunteer/registration-for-first-time-volunteers/
Roundup event registration form: www.hrwc.org/volunteer/roundup/register-for-river-roundup/
Michigan’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program enters its 39th field season!
One of my jobs at the Huron River Watershed Council is to serve as a manager for the state of Michigan’s volunteer lake monitoring program, the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP). The CLMP has been around since 1974… that is an impressive length of time!
Since that first year, the thousands of volunteers across Michigan have:
- Taken 92,185 secchi disk measurements
- Grabbed 4,274 water samples for phosphorus analysis
- Filtered 5,956 water samples for chlorophyll
- Made 2,023 observations of the dates that ice melted off their lakes
- Measured dissolved oxygen and temperature 52,290 times and created 3,486 dissolved oxygen and temperature lake profiles
- Searched 17 lakes for exotic plants and mapped out full plant communities on 12 lakes.
All of this delicious data is entered by our volunteers and staff into a publicly accessible and searchable database!
In total, 827 inland lake basins have been monitored through one test or another through the CLMP. Michigan lake volunteers have contributed about 57,400 hours of work, not counting the time spent driving samples to State offices and going to trainings. Assuming field technicians across this time period would make an average of $9/hour, that means these volunteers have donated well over a half a million dollars in labor.
If you live on a lake, HRWC wants you to care for it and do what you can to keep it healthy. The first step is to figure out what is going on beneath the surface, and the CLMP can help you do this. It is not too late to sign up for the entry parameters: secchi disk and summer phosphorus. Register now for the 2012 field season!
150 volunteers spread thoughout the Huron River watershed in search of stoneflies.
This past weekend, HRWC volunteers braved the high water from unseasonable snowmelt and rain in order to monitor the populations of the aquatic winter stonefly.
Stoneflies are only found in streams and rivers that are free from pollution, so HRWC tracks these critters to understand how our streams are changing over time.
The data is now in and available here. There are a few interesting stories that can be told from this year’s results.
1. This program is held in January because two stonefly families crawl out of rivers and streams and become terrestrial adults by late winter and early spring, and at that point they would be difficult to find. However, this year our team at Mill Creek: Shield Road found a large number of stoneflies that had already emerged and were warming themselves in the sun. This is a very early emergence and is connected to the warm temperatures that we are experiencing this winter.
2. Congratulations to the Wood’s Creek Friends! This is the first year (after sampling for 4 years) that a stonefly was found at the Renton Road site.
3. Mann Creek (east of Brighton) continues to be the best creek in the watershed for stoneflies. This is now the sixth year in a row where volunteers have found four stonefly families. In way of comparison, most of our healthy creeks only have one or two stonefly families.
4. The team that went to Pettibone Creek at Livingston Road thought that they had struck out, but upon examining their sample closely we realized that they had found a Nemourid broadback- also known as a little brown stonefly to the anglers out there. This is the first Stonefly Search in which a team found a stonefly at this site. While not rare statewide, Nemourid broadbacks are rare for the Huron River Watershed. During the Winter Stonefly Search, they are only found at one other site that we monitor. Both Pettibone Creek and this other site (Narrow Gauge Creek) have very high amounts of groundwater inputs. It is unclear if that is a spurious correlation or a legitimate reason for why the insect is found at these locations.
5. Monitoring results on the main branch of Davis Creek have indicated that the insect populations in this creek are declining. We are not finding the diversity or abundance of stoneflies that were found 10 years ago at both Pontiac Trail and Doane Road. The fall and spring monitoring of the full insect community also show a similar pattern. The results seem quite clear: the water quality of Davis Creek is declining slowly but consistently. HRWC is planning on exploring Davis Creek more this coming summer. If interested in joining a team to walk portions of Davis Creek, please contact Paul Steen (email@example.com).