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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Two “Families” Save Their Way To Winning!

The Thomas-Rupley family and the Benjamin Linder Co-op in Ann Arbor save water, energy and money, reduce their CO2 emissions and earn free water from HRWC.

Both entered the HRWC Saving Water Saves Energy Project’s “Pledge, Save, Win” Contest in March. Both will get their first quarter water bill paid (up to $250) for their efforts.

Save Water Comic

A comic book of savings from Benjamin Linder Co-op.

The Co-op’s savings, estimated at 100 gallons per day, were led by Emma Kelly, the group’s sustainability steward. Emma helped her housemates save water by installing 5-minute shower timers and providing grey water collection buckets in each shower. Residents re-use the grey water to flush toilets. Emma also focused housemates on saving at the washing machines — advising them to wash only full loads on cold water cycles.

SWSE Pledge Contest Rain Barrel

The Thomas-Rupley’s save with a rain barrel.

The Thomas-Rupley family, estimated savings 31.5 gallons per day, has been living a water-saving lifestyle for some time. They made their own rain barrel for watering their garden, retrofitted their toilet to make it dual-flush and installed a low flow shower head. They also use left over drinking water for houseplants, and catch excess cold water from the kitchen faucet for use in their washing machine.  The Thomas-Rupleys also wash only full loads in their clothes washer.

Entries were judged for the amount of water saved, the savings techniques and for creativity in showing and telling how savings were achieved. Extra points were awarded for saving energy-intense hot water and full participation of the entire household!

Congratulations to the Thomas-Rupleys and the residents of the Benjamin Linder Co-op! Save on!

Being a Creekwalker (Part 3)

The adventure comes to a close!

You can read Mark Schaller’s first post and second post about his experiences with HRWC’s Creekwalking Program.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. The training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at jfrenzel@hrwc.org to volunteer.

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Guest Author: Mark Schaller

It all comes down to this, the final visit.  This time, I arrived early so I could set some crayfish and minnow traps.  I had seen fish on earlier visits but could never get a good look at any of them.  The deepest part of the stream was where I placed the thermometer so I figured that would be a good site for a trap.  I also placed a crayfish trap further upstream in a rocky area hoping to catch some more crayfish and get a good positive ID.  Everything was set!

Creekwalkers look pick up trash, take water measurements, and record and photograph erosion and infrastructure problems.

Creekwalkers pick up trash, take water measurements, and record and photograph erosion and infrastructure problems.

As I walked back to my Jeep, Erin was heading down the trail.  After our “Hello’s” we headed back to the parking lot to get the rest of the gear.  We picked up the paperwork, meter, measuring stick and my camera and headed back to the stream.  Our starting point was where I placed my crayfish trap and we had 6 crayfish already in the trap.  As I started to pull them out for pictures I found that 3 of them were the invasive Rusty.  The other 3 were northern crayfish.  They were a lot bigger than the Rusty’s so I’m hoping they are holding their own against them.  Too bad; after our last trip I thought that there weren’t any Rusty’s in here.

In midsummer, Woods Creek is a great place to sit down and soak in the cool water... if the mosquitos aren't too bad.

In midsummer, Woods Creek is a great place to sit down and soak in the cool water… if the mosquitoes aren’t too bad.

We then started by taking the water temperature and conductivity readings. When we reached the halfway point I handed the GPS and water conductivity meter over to Erin.  She wanted to see how the meter worked and I needed to get some pictures of her as well.  She took about 4 more readings and then next thing we knew we were at the end of our sample area.  All that was left now was for Erin to compile all the data and for me to turn it in with all the equipment. Mission Accomplished!

I have to say the creekwalking experience was a lot of fun.  Walking up and down Wood Creek brought back a lot of fond memories of myself as a kid exploring all the creeks and streams of my youth.

Good times.

________________________________

Our big thanks go to Mark and Erin, and all our other creekwalking volunteers, from this past summer!

Being a Creekwalker (Part 2)

The adventure continues!

You can read Mark Schaller’s first post here about his experiences with HRWC’s Creekwalking Program.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at jfrenzel@hrwc.org to volunteer.

____________________________________________________

Guest Author: Mark Schaller

Now that the initial visit and thermometer placement was out of the way it was time to schedule the second visit. Like our previous trip, real life issues came up for most of the team, and Erin and myself continued our team of two.

Mosquitos can be bad during a creekwalk, depending on the location and weather. Long pants and long sleeves may be a good idea! Right, Erin?

Mosquitos can be bad during a creekwalk, depending on the location and weather. Long pants and long sleeves may be a good idea! Right, Erin?

We decided that Erin would handle the writing duties while I took the reading and pictures. This time around we were supposed to check for signs of wildlife and pick up any garbage. After her last losing battle with mosquitoes Erin came prepared this time. Long sleeve shirts and real insect repellent were in order. She even sprayed me down to try to keep the bugs at bay. It didn’t work.

Woods Creek was pretty much in the same state as the last time we were here. We entered at the first bridge and got to work. We took a few temperature and water conductivity readings and not much had changed. Since I didn’t have to concentrate on the readings, I spent more time checking out what signs of life there were. Erin is more of an herbologist than I am so she kept track of the plant life. She was rattling off plant names and I just took her word for it. I’m not a vegetarian.

Like last time I spotted some smaller bait fish but couldn’t get a good enough look at them to see what they were. When we got to the water thermometers I saw some larger fish hiding underneath the stump but again I couldn’t get a good look to see what they were. What I did see were a lot of crayfish. These guys I was very interested in. I wanted to know if they were native crayfish or the non-native rusty variety.  For the rest of the walk I tried to catch one and for most of the walk my efforts were pretty futile. Just as I was about to grab one it would take off and disappear in the silt. Even with my advance warning system screaming every time one ran across her foot, I still couldn’t corner one long enough to grab it.

Mark had a good time catching and identifying crayfish on his creekwalk.

Mark had a good time catching and identifying crayfish on his creekwalk.

Eventually I caught one and it wasn’t a Rusty. So far so good. I was able to catch a couple more and they were all native crayfish as well. I don’t know what kind exactly, but they weren’t Rusty crayfish. I’m sure the Rusty’s will eventually work their way into this creek but for now no sign of them.

One of the other things we had to do during this trip was pick up garbage. I’m glad to say that there wasn’t much. I expected to find plastic worm containers, fish line, and empty cans. All I really found was some pieces of broken glass and an old shirt.  Nice to see that there wasn’t much trash!

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Stayed tuned for the third and final part of Mark’s creekwalking experience.

Make A Stormdrain Mural at the Mayor’s Green Fair

Inspire River Protection With Art! Stormdrain Art at 2013 Green Fair

Come decorate the curbside connections to the Huron River! Ann Arbor artist David Zinn and Karim Motawi will lead the crowd in chalking four of our downtown stormdrain inlets into works of art. We provide the chalk, you bring the creativity!

When: Friday, June 13, 2014, 6-8pm

Where: The Ann Arbor Mayor’s Green Fair, at the Liberty and Main intersection and the Huron River Watershed Council booth in front of the Melting Pot.

Presented by HRWC in partnership with the 14th Annual Mayor’s Green Fair and the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission.

Stormdrain Art at 2013 Green FairWe depend on stormdrains to keep our streets from flooding during storms. Yet, these devices also direct litter and polluted rainwater straight into the Huron River. We’ll show and tell the stormdrain connection and recruit families to adopt their neighborhood stormdrains, keeping them for rain only by removing litter, leaves and other debris in the spring, summer, and fall months.

Can’t make it to the Green Fair? Do your part by Adopting A Stormdrain in your neighborhood . . . learn more about it HERE.

 

Pedal, Paddle, Run, Fish . . .

River and RiverSide Recreation! Take Your Pick June 7-8!

In addition to the fabulous line-up of Huron River Summer Recreation Events hosted by HRWC, there are a number of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the River.

Paddling the Huron

Photo: Leisa Thompson, The Ann Arbor News

June 7. Flat Rock to Oakwoods Metropark Pedal & Paddle. 10am-2pm. Pedal a family-friendly one mile from Huroc Park to Oakwoods Metropark on the newly completed paved Flat Rock-HCMA Connector trail then jump into the Huron River for a 30-minute paddle.

Group pedal kick-off, 10am at Huroc Park, 28600 Arsenal Road, includes bike inspections, a scavenger hunt, local bike vendors and a Trikke carving vehicle demo. While at Oakwoods, park your bike in a secure corral and join the National Trails Day Celebration (ends at 4pm) where the afternoon will be filled with a wide variety of activities for the entire family including hikes, kayaking demos, birding walks, geocaching, “how-to” discussions, prize drawings, entertainment, and much more.

All activities are free, but onsite kayak rentals are $10 for 30-min (until 2pm). Hosted by Riverside Kayak Connection, Huron River Watershed Council, Downriver Linked Greenways, City of Flat Rock, Friends of Oakwoods and Oakwoods Metropark.

June 7. Hudson Mills Metropark to Village of Dexter Run. 9am. Celebrate the Grand Opening of the newest segment of the Border-to-Border (B2B) trail with a 10k race and fun run/walk that will be enjoyable for all ability levels – bring the whole family! The race will start at Hudson Mills, North Territorial Road entrance. The 6.2-mile scenic route will take you along the Huron River to the finish line in the Village of Dexter at Mill Creek Park where you can enjoy entertainment and refreshments after the run. Free shuttle buses will transport participants back to the starting point. Pre-register online or at the event beginning at 7:30am

Fly fish the Huron River.

Fly fish the Huron River.

June 7 and 8. Schultz Outfitters Fly Fishing Demo Days. 10am-6pm Sat, 10am-5pm Sun. This event brings together some of the most respected talent and brands in the fly fishing industry for two days of FREE education and fun. There will be on-stream casting and fishing demonstrations in the park each day, along with classes and seminars at Schultz Outfitters fly shop, a used gear trade and deals galore!

 

So, get outside and ENJOY your River! More recreation opportunities are posted at huronriverwatertrail.org.

Being a Creekwalker (Part 1)

 Scout and Walk a River

This past summer, several teams of volunteers participated in a new program: Creekwalking!

Mark Schaller was one of those volunteers, and he wrote about being a Creekwalker for the Downriver Walleye Federation newsletter, the fishing organization that he belongs to.  Mark has given HRWC his permission for us to reproduce his adventures here on our blog.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at jfrenzel@hrwc.org to volunteer.

___________________________________________________

Mark Schaller tests the water in Woods Creek.

Mark tests the water in Woods Creek.

Guest Author: Mark Schaller

Several months back I received an email from the Huron River Watershed Council. They were looking for volunteers for a new program they were starting up, Creek Walking. The council members are trying to collect data on the hundreds of miles of creeks and tributaries that feed into the Huron River. Since funds are tights for this kinds of field work they need volunteers. I volunteered!

I had to attend a training meeting to find out what this was about. I was going to be part of a 5 person team that was assigned to Woods Creek. This little stream is located in Lower Huron Metro Park. My team and I would be making visits throughout the summer to take readings, pictures, clean up garbage and record any observations concerning wildlife or any aquatic critters. Seems simple, right? Oh, was I in for a surprise.

I was worried about the water levels at this time as the prior weekend the levels were about 4 feet above normal and made wading the stream hazardrous.  I stopped by two days prior to our field day and the water had dropped some. My fingers were crossed that a few more days and no rain would finally allow the team to do the initial testing.

On our field day, myself and another teammate, Erin, were the only ones who were able to make it.  The two of us packed up the gear and headed to the stream. The water level was back down to normal so we waded in. After one step I remembered that I never fixed the leak in my hip boots. Erin just waded in with what she was wearing. She soon found out that the all natural insect repellant that she was wearing didn’t do a thing for her. They attacked her in swarms. For some strange reason they left me alone, not that I was complaining.

Woods Creek in July! Looks nice, doesn't it?

Woods Creek in July! Looks nice, doesn’t it?

Part of our work was to take temperature and water conductivity readings. The meter that HRWC gave us takes both temperature and measures the ions in the stream.  Anything under a reading of 800 microsiemens meant that the water was clean and healthy. We had to take a reading every 30 feet and make it with GPS coordinates as well.All of our readings were around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and a conductivity of around 800. All seemed good. The stream itself had a gravel bottom the whole length we checked. A good sign for all those Steelheaders out there. A staff member of HRWC told me that they have had reports of steelhead fingerlings this far up the Huron so this may be a viable spawning area for them.

Another part of our job was to take pictures of the surrounding vegetation and make notes of any aquatic or land based wildlife. We didn’t see any critters but did see lots of baitfish in the stream. As far as insects go, there were a lot of damselflies and of course about a gazillion mosquitoes. Because of this and the total failure of Erin’s repellant we hurried through our sampling and got off the stream in a hurry. She was was a little annoyed that I never got bit. Sometimes it’s good to be me.  She was a good sport about it though and offered to enter all our data into the spreadsheet we were given. I volunteered to go through the pictures and the file names and GPS coordinates to the datasheet.

Mission Accomplished! Our task for another day was to walk upstream in Woods Creek and continue the process.

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Stayed tuned for part 2 of Mark’s creekwalking experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Where are the Mudpuppies?

mudpuppy2The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and the Herpetological Resource and Management are asking for help in collecting dead specimens of Mudpuppies. Due to the extreme weather conditions this year, herpetologists are anticipating a large winterkill, which provides a unique opportunity to assess population health.

What is a Mudpuppy?

• Michigan’s largest, fully aquatic salamander

Why Are They Important?

• “Bioindicator” species: Due to their sensitivity to pollutants and poor water quality, these salamanders act as an early warning system for environmental problems

• Are the only intermediate host to the Endangered Salamander Mussel

• Great Lakes populations are declining, and the true abundance is currently unknown

How Can I Help?

Place the whole Mudpuppy(s) in ziploc bag, seal, and freeze the bag. Tissue samples may be placed in storage tubes containing ethanol.

Include the following information on a 3×5 card placed within the bag (using pencil) and on the outside of the bag (using permanent marker). In the case of tissue samples, label outside of tube with permanent marker.

1.) Observer

2.) Date

3.) Precise Collection Location

Contact one of the following people:

1.) David Mifsud 517-522-3525 DMifsud@HerpRMan.com

2.) Maegan Stapleton 517-522-3525 Stapleton@HerpRMan.com

3.) Amber Stedman 815-761-8941  AStedman@EMich.edu

4.) Greg Schneider 734-647-1927, 734-763-0740 ES@UMich.edu

mudpuppy1

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.

Native Plants and Rain Garden Information

Ask the Expert! Get Design and Installation Advice!
Saturday, March 15, 10am-2pm
Sunday, March 16, Noon-4pm

1280px-Echinacea_purpurea_Punahattu_Arto_AlanenpääVisit our booth at the Washtenaw Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show. We have two fantastic experts on hand to answer questions and offer advice on all things native plants and rain gardens:  Susan Bryan, Rain Garden Coordinator for the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office and Drew Lathin, from Creating Sustainable Landscapes. Get a basic introduction or in-depth answers to your native plant and rain garden design and installation questions.

Throughout the three-day show, HRWC and WCWRC are teaming up to share outdoor water saving tips and native plant and rain garden design and installation materials and information with the public.

Free copies of Landscaping for Water Quality, Garden Designs for Homeowners, 3rd Edition will be available.

Susan will be at the booth on Saturday and Drew will be there Sunday for limited hours (see below).

Booth: E169
Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show, March 14-16
Friday 2-8pm
Saturday 10am-7pm (expert available 10am-2pm)
Sunday 11am-5pm (expert available noon-4pm)
Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd
Admission $5, 12 and under free

For info, contact Pam, plabadie@hrwc.org, (734) 769-5123 x 602.


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