Archive for the ‘General HRWC’ Category
Let’s hear what you think about the future of state public lands……
Governor Snyder has tasked the Department of Natural Resources with developing a public land management strategy which will assist regions in meeting their prosperity goals. The plan is a requirement under a law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder last year that capped how much land the DNR can own. The DNR has drafted a strategy and wants to hear from you.
I attended a regional meeting last week that provided an interactive discussion on our region’s priority community, economic, and environmental strategies that are impacted and enhanced by public land resources (state parks, recreation areas, access, and game areas). We discussed the main strategies in the draft plan–the pros and cons, what is missing, the challenges to meet them, and how to have better collaboration.
To summarize: “The draft land use strategy calls for improved access on DNR-managed public lands and, for the first time, sets a standard for public access to the Great Lakes and rivers. The draft plan also includes a new strategy for the possible disposal of approximately 250,000 acres of DNR-managed public lands and promotes increased opportunities in southern Michigan. The plan also discusses objectives to grow Michigan’s natural resources-based economy through the use of DNR-managed public lands.”
The highpoints for me are:
1. Improved management and greater collaboration are needed and I welcome the emphasis!
2. Increasing public land opportunities and/or access and recreation in Southern MI, where the greatest population lives, makes sense and supports HRWC RiverUp! efforts.
3. The word BIODIVERSITY is missing and given the current threats (see earlier blog Forests and Waters At-Risk in Michigan) I worry about an overly strong emphasis on timber and mining where the economic benefits are more easily quantified than biodiversity and habitat protection.
The Huron River Watershed is lucky to have a wealth of state public lands from Highland to Proud Lake State Rec. Areas and from Island Lake to Pinckney State Rec. Areas. If you use these lands and care about the future of them please review the DNR strategy and comment!
Sadly, not a lot of good news has come across our desks over the past couple of weeks. Instead, we are hearing of major losses, or potential losses, in the gains we have made with our nation’s waters over the decades since the Clean Water Act. It is a signal that we cannot let up on our efforts to protect our freshwater, and the life it supports and the services it provides.
EPA Declares More than Half of US Rivers Unfit for Aquatic Life – A recently released report from the Environmental Protection Agency identified 55% of US rivers and stream are in poor condition for aquatic life. Major culprits include reduced riparian vegetation, phosphorus, nitrogen, mercury and bacteria. We are losing ground on our high quality rivers. Only 21% of US rivers qualified as “good biological condition compared to the 27% that fell into that category in the 2004 assessment. In the Huron, phosphorus is a big concern, as is bacterial pollution. Learn more about local water quality here or listen to a summary of our water quality monitoring results from 2012.
Judge ends federal court oversight of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department The utility responsible for delivering drinking water and treating wastewater for 4 million customers in Southeast Michigan has been under federal oversight for 35 years. Oversight will now move to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality due to significant improvements in compliance with environmental regulations. The new State permit calls for additional improvements to the facility’s wastewater treatment operations.
Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie The Huron’s receiving water, Lake Erie, is in trouble. Toxic algal blooms in the lake are getting worse causing problems for fish populations, tourism and beaches. The lake had seen vast improvements since the Clean Water Act helped halt industrial pollution. Now, we are losing ground primarily due to phosphorus pollution primarily from farming practices. Climate change and zebra mussels are also cited as contributing to the problem.
Hydraulic fracturing in Michigan: Waiting for the boom So far, the Huron River watershed and much of Michigan has not been subject to natural gas extraction via the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process that has many states debating costs versus benefits of the method. The method uses a lot of water and a slurry of chemicals deep into the earth. This article shares why fracking has not yet come to our backyard and under what conditions it may.
The effort to derail ‘Biodiversity Stewardship Areas’ in Michigan Here is another voice in the debate over Senate bill 78. This is a very important issue to us and anyone who values our state’s natural areas and their inhabitants. We will continue to keep you up-to-date on our website. To learn more about the issue and how to voice your opinion see our blog Healthy Forests and Waters At-Risk in Michigan .
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.
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!
Climate adaptation is any action taken that reduces the vulnerability of natural communities and the built environment to the impacts of climate change. For example, if we are going to get larger storms, what do we need to do to our stormwater practices and infrastructure to reduce the chances of flooding or pipe or dam failure? If warmer air temperatures mean we are more susceptible to a new forest pest or pathogen, what do we do to reduce tree loss? These are some of the questions we are considering, along with water resource professionals from throughout the watershed, in our Making Climate Resilient Communities project.
We are not alone in our efforts to adapt to changes in climate. There are communities, agencies and organizations throughout the Great Lakes Region that are engaged in efforts to determine courses of action in response to climate change. Those of us who are working in this arena are pioneering a new field and can serve as a resource to others.
Recently, EcoAdapt, an organization focused on facilitating climate adaptation, released a report: The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region. The report provides an overview of climate change in the region, shares the results of a survey to water resource professionals capturing adaptation activities and reflects on common challenges and opportunities to push the needle forward on climate adaptation.
HRWC’s Climate Resilient Communities and Saving Water Saves Energy projects stand proudly among the 57 case studies highlighted in the report (pg 94). You will also find other examples from our watershed including the efforts of the City of Ann Arbor (pg 103) and the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities project that has selected Ann Arbor as one of it’s assessment cities (pg 142). This report, along with many other adaptation resources can be found on CAKE (Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange) website.
The HRWC Auction Team has been hard at work, compiling our largest collection of fabulous items for your bidding pleasure! This year we have over 40 items listed online at BiddingForGood and all proceeds benefit HRWC’s efforts to restore and protect the watershed.
Bids on the River is online now until November 26 and is the perfect shopping opportunity for the holidays or any occasion.
Here are our team members’ picks:
Rebecca: I wish my kids were little again, because I would be all over the “Fun With Bugs” workshop being offered by our very own Paul Steen. Actually, this would be great for not-so-little kids and anglers too. Learn all about the bugs in our watershed and why they are critical to the local ecosytem. Got someone with entomological tendencies? Coolest. Gift. Ever.
Margaret: It’s a toss up between Unadilla Boatworks’ “Build A Boat” workshop and Schultz’s Outfitters Fly Fishing Lessons (4 on offer!). I think both are great experiences directly connected to recreation on our river. Ron Sell and Mike Schultz support HRWC efforts in raising awareness of responsible use of our water resources while enjoying the recreational opportunities offered in the watershed.
Meg: How do I choose? I want to bid on them all! But, if you’re going to force me to pick one…I think I’ll have to go with Jolly Pumpkin & Melissa Ferrick Package. I can almost never pass up the food and beer at Jolly. And while I can’t say I’m a hardcore Melissa Ferrick fan, per se (I just listened to her music for the first time today), I am a lover of good music and I know that good times are always had at The Ark. Good food, good beer AND good times. How can anyone pass that up?
New items added since the auction opened include a rain barrel from Downtown Home & Garden, a rap workshop from Rap For Food, a “Bucket of Balm” from North Wind Naturals and a Bake Class from Zingerman’s!
The auction closes on November 26, so start your bidding soon and check check back often. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to purchase a beautiful gift for yourself or a special someone and support HRWC with just a couple of clicks!
Our weather patterns are definitely becoming less recognizable! Remember the really warm and early spring (and the frost snap where we lost our prized fruit!), to the summer drought and heat with little to no water in the river, and now to Sandy who devastated much of the East Coast and gave us early sleet and wind gusts that caused power outages.
And why isn’t climate change and adaptation a conversation in the current elections? There may be disagreement about who caused the mess we are in, but there can’t be disagreement about the massive climate extremes we are experiencing. Storms are increasing in number per year, by intensity, and by the amount of rain. Republicans and Democrats are now talking about building and re-building our cities to be more climate resilient.
Increasingly, community leaders, planners, and natural resource managers are expressing the need to understand local impacts of climate change and implement adaptation strategies. The HRWC has been leading an effort to create climate-resilient communities within the watershed by working with three sectors likely to be significantly impacted by climate change and in a position to take actions to reduce and respond to those impacts.
Downscaled climate models predict more frequent large rain events, a shift in the timing of these events, and increases in the frequency and severity of droughts. These changes threaten safety of residents via increased risk of flooding, stormwater runoff, infrastructure failure, availability and quality of drinking water and the quality of natural areas that mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.
HRWC has created a model process for watersheds where need is determined by sector members. The process creates climate-informed decision-makers who can influence relevant practices, policies and emergency management. Participants representing in-stream flows (dam operators, fisheries biologists, hydrologists), natural infrastructure (wildlife biologists, aquatic ecologists, natural lands managers), and water infrastructure (drinking water, wastewater, stormwater professionals) sectors have met over the last year to discuss local climate data, determine vulnerabilities and decide a course of action to reduce vulnerability to climate change.
Actions currently proposed for implementation include:
-Initiate and coordinate a network of dam operators to improve preparedness and communications strategies for larger, more frequent storm events and drought conditions and allow for proactive management to changes in flow and exchange of knowledge and solutions
-Revision of regional rainfall frequency curves to improve the ability to establish appropriate stormwater management regulations and storm drain sizing, reducing risk of flooding, property damage and infrastructure failures; and
-Report and provide training on predicted impacts to species and natural communities to inform urban forestry, land management and protection.
HRWC is collaborating with NOAA’s Great Lakes Integrated Sciences & Assessments Center (GLISA) to provide local climate data. The River Network, EcoAdapt and others are following this effort in order to export the process to other watersheds.
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, email@example.com.
As always, a big thanks to TOYOTA for their support of this program.
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.