Archive for the ‘Bioreserve’ Category
In honor of World Wetlands Day today, we at HRWC thought we’d share a little bit of info about our wetlands here in the Huron watershed.
Wetlands – Nature’s Kidneys
Wetlands, along with floodplains and shorelines, are critical environmental areas. Wetlands are saturated lowland areas (e.g. marshes and swamps) that have distinctive soils and ecology. Wetland areas filter flowing water, hold flood water, and release water slowly into surrounding drier land. These functions are critical to keeping the Huron River clean and safe for wildlife, drinking, paddling, fishing, and swimming. See our Wetland Page for more details.
The Huron Watershed’s Wetlands
The Huron watershed is home to many kinds of wetlands (the Michigan Natural Features Inventory lists 26 different kinds of wetlands that exist in our watershed!); including wet prairies, hardwood swamps, and bogs. Unfortunately, due to agricultural drainage and development, only about half of our wetlands remain.
With all the ecological services that wetlands provide to the River, it is important to keep our wetlands healthy and restore wetlands when we can. HRWC highly recommends local communities enact wetland ordinances, along with building setback requirements from wetlands, to protect our remaining wetlands.
HRWC’s Bioreserve Project is mapping and assessing wetlands and other natural areas to help target conservation efforts (come to our Field Assessment Training to learn how you can assess wetlands and other natural areas), and our Green Infrastructure programs are working with communities to protect existing and create new wetland areas, to restore the landscape’s ability to filter and control stormwater runoff.
What You Can Do
Volunteer with HRWC, learning to evaluate wetlands (their special features and plants) on May 14 at our Field Assessment Training and then join us this summer for some field assessments!
The Michigan Conservation Stewards program has been brought back to Washtenaw County by a collaboration of HRWC and peer organizations. We hope you, as a supporter of the Huron, will take the opportunity to strengthen your knowledge and thus ability to advocate for our natural resources. This 6-week course covers all the basics of conservation, introduces participants to a wide-array of topic experts, and is a great networking opportunity.
This piece was written by guest blogger Mike Kaminski who worked as a intern at HRWC last summer and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan.
Resiliency is the capacity for a system to absorb disturbance without shifting into a qualitatively different state. In this case, the system we are talking about is the Huron River watershed’s trees and forests, and the disturbance is climate change. Healthy tree communities enhance stormwater infiltration, filter pollutants picked up by rainwater, keep our rivers and streams cool, and help to preserve the overall health of the Huron. Unfortunately, the River’s tree resources may be at risk due to the impacts of climate change and the extreme weather events that are expected to come with it.
With increased temperatures and extreme weather events (especially summer drought), tree species that have long been associated with the beauty of the Huron River watershed will begin shifting their population ranges north to accommodate for the change in climate. Fall foliage characterized by the vibrant reds and golds of sugar maples and beeches will be replaced by the muted browns and yellows of oaks and hickories better suited to these new weather patterns. Even the eastern white pine, the state tree of Michigan, is expected to become more rare in this area.
Many potential consequences could result from the loss of these long established tree species. High numbers of urban street trees could be lost that are not well adapted. This could mean high replacement costs for local townships. Loss of municipal services such as enhanced stormwater infiltration, air cleansing, and urban heat island mitigation may occur. With fewer native trees able to survive in the changing climate, we could also observe a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services from our surrounding parks and forests.
So, what can we do about this? Two years ago, HRWC, the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA), and several local environmental leaders from around the watershed formed the Creating Climate Resilient Communities Project: an effort to address local climate change impacts by building resiliency in the watershed. Among the issues the project chose to focus on were resiliency strategies for natural infrastructure (specifically trees) within the watershed.
Now entering its third year, the Climate Resilient Communities Project has compiled several great resources on improving climate resiliency in the area’s forests and trees. These include a comprehensive report on the state of climate change and its impacts on the local watershed, fact sheets on key tree species of the area, and a report of popular and emerging management strategies for resilience in forest and tree resources. These and many other useful resources have been compiled as a comprehensive toolkit on HRWC’s website.
Joining Dexter and Lyndon townships in Washtenaw County and all communities in Oakland County, Unadilla Township has created a Green Infrastructure Plan that provides a map of its natural areas — woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, and waterways — and connections and pathways connecting them. At a workshop facilitated by the Huron River Watershed Council as part of our Portage Creek Project, residents and officials from Unadilla Township studied maps of the township’s natural areas, topography, master plan designations, land use, and other natural assets, and drew over them onto transparent mylar natural area hubs, links connecting them, and special natural features such has Heron rookeries or rare plant communities. HRWC used the sketching to create the map and plan.
The township will use the plan to inform their land use planning and policy development, directing future development in a way that is in concert with their natural infrastructure.
HRWC will will hold a similar workshop for Stockbridge in January. The Dexter and Lyndon township green infrastructure planning processes were also part of our Portage Creek Project. Oakland County Planning and Development completed its Green Infrastructure planning program in 2009 — all of their communities now have plans and maps that inform their planning and policies.
HRWC volunteers spend a lot of the summer collecting water quality information. THANK YOU! Of course, getting in the water is great fun and often a fun challenge. But what of all the data that we collect? What does it tell us? Where does it go?
2013 Field Results
Join HRWC staff as we present the results of the 2013 field work for Portage Creek, Bioreserve, Adopt-A-Stream, and Water Quality Monitoring. Program directors Kris Olsson, Paul Steen, Pam Labadie and Ric Lawson will give presentations on the most recent findings, followed by Q and A.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
6:30 – 8:00 PM
NEW Center Conference Rooms
1100 North Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Please RSVP to Jason: JFrenzel@hrwc.org
A team of volunteers and staff from HRWC and the Huron Clinton Metroparks found over 80 different species of wildflowers, trees, and grasses on just under a mile-long stretch through a 100-acre portion of Huron Meadows Metropark recently. The metropark, one of 10 that run along the Huron River for much of its length, is home to 1,000 acres of upland forest, wooded swamp, grassland, fens, and wet meadows, as well as the Huron River itself, which makes it a great destination for hikers in the summer and cross country skiers in the winter.
This summer, HRWC’s bioreserve project is leading field assessments on Metropark properties, as well as properties local land conservancies are working on protecting, in order to provide the Metroparks and conservancies with detailed ecological information to aid in their management and preservation efforts.
The field assessment for Huron Meadows will help Metroparks staff target invasive control efforts in the natural areas within the parks. For instance, the team found a large wetland complex on the west side of their survey area that flowed beyond the park to border Ore Lake. While high quality, the wetland would benefit from a glossy buckthorn control effort on its southern side, but was mostly free of invasives to the north. The team also discovered several vernal ponds pocketed in low lying areas within the oak-hickory forest hills that are most likely great habitat for frogs and salamanders.
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/
Volunteer Vernal Pool Training
Help the Michigan DNR inventory Southeast Michigan’s Vernal Pools!
WHEN: Saturday, March 16, 10 am – 2:30pm (Alternate date if bad weather: March 30)
WHERE: Proud Lake Recreation Area
River Hawk Annex – Meeting Room
3500 Wixom Road, Commerce Township, MI 48382, (248) 685-2433
- Learn about vernal pools and why they are so important
- Become trained to identify, map and collect data on vernal pools
- Learn to identify frogs, salamanders and invertebrates
- Contribute to the state-wide vernal pools database
- This training involves hands-on practice outdoors so please come prepared for weather and mud (boots and rain gear)
- Bring a sack lunch. We will provide water and snacks!
- Volunteers interested in visiting one or more “potential vernal pools” in southeast MI in the following areas:
- Highland Recreation Area – Oakland Co.
- Proud Lake Recreation Area – Oakland Co.
- Pinckney Recreation Area – Livingston and Washtenaw Co.
- Waterloo Recreation Area – Washtenaw County
- Volunteers who can commit to visit one or more “potential vernal pools” at least 2-3 times during spring and summer
- No previous experience required
REGISTER: Please register by March 12th, No cost, but registration is limited to 30 people.
Contact Daria Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-373-4815
Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Parks Stewardship Program
Funding provided by: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality,
with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency
HRWC’s Bioreserve project field assessment volunteers have witnessed some pretty spectacular landscapes so far this field season! This includes extensive marsh and fen ecosystems in Lyndon Township and south of West Lake in Dexter Township. Volunteers are even taking their ipads out in the field to help with plant identification!
The field assessors are gathering data about natural areas in order to educate landowners about the ecological quality of their property and help conservancies and communities target their preservation efforts towards the most important natural areas.
For more information about the Bioreserve project, and if you’d like to join our field assessors, contact Kris Olsson
If you are a “Plant Person,” who can identify most wildflower, shrub, and tree species in a typical Michigan forest or wetland, we could especially use your help and expertise! You can join teams of assessors on these fun forays into the “wilderness!”
On June 5, a dynamic and excited group of Lyndon Township residents, board members, and planning commissioners joined HRWC to learn about the forests, fields, wetlands, and waterways that make up their township’s Green Infrastructure.
Green Infrastructure is the network of natural lands, working landscapes and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide a whole host of benefits, including clean air, filtering pollution from water, providing drinking water, flood prevention, temperature control, and other less tangible benefits such as enjoyment of hiking, fishing, paddling, and other outdoor activities.
Green infrastructure exists from this broad landscape scale of mapping out and planning around large natural area networks, down to the parcel/site scale of installing rain gardens and other natural vegetated forms of stormwater control. In fact, HRWC’s latest Huron River Report has an article about the smaller scale green infrastructure.
Thanks to funding from the Consumers Energy Foundation, HRWC is working with communities to develop Green Infrastructure plans to guide their future land use and development in a way that is in concert with their natural ecosystems. The program is modeled after Oakland County’s Green Infrastructure Program. The county worked with each of its 62 local governments to map out natural areas, recreational opportunities, and linkages between them, and then create Green Infrastructure plans. Lyndon Township is the first local community in the Huron watershed to begin the planning process.
The Lyndon group gathered over HRWC’s Bioreserve map of Lyndon Township forests, wetlands, waterways, and fields, markers and post-it notes in hand, and together designated larger intact natural areas as “hubs,” smaller areas as “sites,” and then created linkages between all those sites. In addition, participants added post-it notes of special places such as known massasauga rattlesnake habitat, high quality fens, and even threats such as a proposed gravel pit.
HRWC will add information gathered at the meeting to our existing GIS computer map of Lyndon’s green infrastructure and create a draft green infrastructure vision map and plan to present at a Fall meeting with the group. The township will then use the plan and map to guide their land use planning decisions about where to direct location and design of new development as well as for greenway and trail planning.
For more information about this project or if you think your community might be interested in participating, email Kris or call 734-769-5123 x607