Archive for the ‘General HRWC’ Category
River and creek sampling
Thanks to 137 volunteers who contributed a total of 548 volunteer hours, the 2013 Fall River Roundup was a great success! Our volunteers split into 25 teams and traveled to 50 different creek and river locations across the Huron River Watershed to assess the aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate community.
This study is one of the most effective ways that HRWC has to keep its finger on the pulse of the stream. From the data collected from this semi-annual event, we get a better understanding of which creeks and rivers are getting better, which are getting worse, and how we can direct our management activities.
You can see all the results in Fall 2013 River Roundup Report.
Current Watershed Health
In a nutshell, the health of the watershed as judged by our macroinvertebrate sampling is holding steady. Of the 62 sites that we monitor to judge this, 30 sites have had no statistically significant changes over time, and 6 sites are too new to make this judgment.
12 sites are declining, and these include locations on Chilson Creek, Davis Creek, east branch of Fleming Creek, Norton Creek, and South Ore Creek. The majority of the declining sites are in Livingston County. Eight of the declining sites are in Livingston, two are in Washtenaw, and three are in Oakland.
14 sites are significantly improving. 11 of improving sites are in Washtenaw County, including Boyden Creek, Horseshoe Creek, the main and west branches of Fleming Creek, Huron Creek, the Huron River in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and several places on Mill Creek. 2 sites are improving in Livingston County (Horseshoe Creek at Merrill Road and Mann Creek at Van Amberg Road), and 1 site is improving in Wayne County (Woods Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark).
1. For many years HRWC has held up Millers Creek in Ann Arbor as an example of what can happen to an urban creek- the stream flow is flashy, the channel is incised, the riparian vegetation is shrubby invasive plants, and there is little life in the creek. In 2009 HRWC finished up a green infrastructure project in the headwaters of Millers designed to reduce the amount of stormwater rushing into the creek, and at the same time the City of Ann Arbor finished a major streambank stabilization project where the creek crossed Glazier Way.
The efforts spent restoring Millers Creek seems to be paying off. The sample taken in Millers Creek at Glazier Way contained the most insect families ever seen since sampling began in 1993. While the overall trend since 1993 is unchanged, from 2004 when the creek was at its worst (3 insect families), until now in 2013 (12 insect families), there is a statistically significant increase. Insects that are particularly susceptible to pollution and disturbance have yet to be found here however, and we will continue monitoring in hopes that these insects will make their way back to the stream.
2. Starting in this past January, HRWC has been sending volunteers to two new stream sites on Portage Creek near Stockbridge. This is a long drive from Ann Arbor and we appreciate the volunteers who have made this journey. This Roundup, volunteers in the Portage Creek at Rockwell site found a treasure trove of insect diversity. Twenty insect families were found which puts this new site up there with the very best places we go. We will look forward to visiting this site again in the future!
Norton creekshed in Oakland County is a Detroit suburb and industrial hub. Historically, the creek has suffered from numerous impairments and has seen little improvement as the area has become increasingly suburbanized.
In terms of the macroinvertebrate community, samples taken here have always had terrible diversity and low abundance, but in recent years things have gotten worse. When sampling started in Norton Creek at West Maple Road in 2000, it was normal to find between 8 and 10 insect families. However, volunteers during the past four fall River Roundups have found 3, 4, 4, and 3 insect families. Two of the insect families found are actually water striders, which are only semi-aquatic as they live on top of the rather than in the water.
These poor samples have made Norton Creek the worst location of all of those that HRWC monitors. For more information on Norton Creek, see our Norton Creek page and associated creekshed report. http://www.hrwc.org/norton
On January 26th, HRWC staff and volunteers will gather for the 19th annual Stonefly Search. This event is very similar to a River Roundup except that we are only looking for stoneflies. Some of these little guys can be found year round, but there are a couple of stonefly families that are only reliably found in the winter months, and they are great indicators of healthy water. We hope you and your family and friends will join us for this fun outdoor event! Register here! http://www.hrwc.org/volunteer/stonefly/
HRWC’s holiday auction includes 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 December 2 and is the perfect shopping opportunity for the holidays or any occasion.
It’s a toss up between Paddle Board Lessons and Schultz Outfitters Fly Fishing Lessons or a Jolly Irish Christmas. Something for everyone. Outdoor recreation, birding, paddle boarding, baked goods, entertainment, unique experiences and cooking lessons.
Bid early and remember to check back for new items.
The auction closes on Dec 2 so start your bidding soon and check back often. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to purchase a beautiful gift for yourself or special someone and support HRWC with just a couple of clicks! Auction proceeds this year will support HRWC’s core programs, such as water quality monitoring.
In addition to HRWC’s own PSA, “A Hero Rises” produced by our Saving Water Saves Energy project with Detroit Public Television and funded by the Masco Corporation Foundation, we are happy to report that several local college students have been bitten by the film arts bug! I am currently working with a terrific group of Washtenaw Community College students and their instructor Matt Zacharias to review and debut a bevy of Huron-related PSAs (coming in January).
And this is just in from the University of Michigan!
Ever wonder how people understand and make sense of climate change? Ever wanted to convince people that the issue is important? Well now is your chance.
The Erb Institute, in collaboration with the department of Screen Arts & Cultures, has sponsored a competition to create the best student-produced video aimed at engaging the public in climate change.
Public voting for student-produced videos for the Climate Change Communication Challenge is now open!
They challenged U-M students to create a public service announcement that would inspire positive action on climate change. Eleven teams of students put their skills to the test. Now is your chance to weigh in on the best video!
The video receiving the most votes will receive the $1,500 Popular Vote Award. The poll closes at 12 PM EST onThursday, November 21.
Spread the word! Encourage your friends, family, students, and colleagues to vote!
Get your hero on!
The communities of the Huron River watershed have come together to produce another spectacular calendar. Chock full of stunning Huron River photography, stormwater pollution prevention tips and local resources, this year’s version features 15 of your neighbors who are doing their part to protect water quality in their everyday actions!
Your mission if you choose to accept it is to become an H2O Hero yourself. Pick a sidekick, choose your color, select hero gear and decide which “bad guys” you will fight. You can get your hero on in seven easy steps — check the hero handbook that starts on page 28 of the calendar. Once you’ve done it, “like” HRWC on Facebook and update us with your hero name (clever or not). We’ll enter you to win one of 50 H2O Hero t-shirts that we’ll give away in January.
How to get your calendar.
By mail. City of Ann Arbor, City of Brighton and Village of Dexter are direct-mailing to most households in their communities the week of November 4th.
In person. Calendars will be at these customer service counters:
-Livingston County Drain Commission and Road Commission
-Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission and Road Commission
-City of Ypsilanti
-Village of Pinckney
-Green Oak Charter Township
-Pittsfield Charter Township
-Charter Township of Ypsilanti
From HRWC. Contact Pam Labadie at email@example.com or (734)769-5123 x 602. We can mail a calendar to you for $5 or you can pick one up for free at HRWC.
About the Calendar.
The 2014 Watershed Community Calendar is a collaborative effort to educate residents about the importance of water stewardship and nonpoint source pollution prevention. The communities listed above believe there are substantial benefits that can be derived by joining together and cooperatively managing the rivers, lakes, and streams within the watershed and in providing mutual assistance in meeting state water discharge permit requirements. HRWC would like to thank them for their continued support of the calendar program.
Portaging Argo Dam is a bit of a challenge. Do you float the cascades, or walk your watercraft around them and the dam?
This video, developed for the Huron River Water Trail, will give the proper directions for your trip! And hopefully it will make you laugh a little bit too. Make sure your sound is on!
The Huron River Water Trail website contains many useful trip planning tools to guide you on your next paddling excursion. The website include online maps, a store to purchase the waterproof Paddler’s Companion, tips on river safety and trail etiquette, real-time river flows, fishing updates, and suggested itineraries.
Want to meet the Lions, Tigers, and Bears of the Huron?
We’re happy to show them off – but you’ll have to help us hunt them down! (Though ours are a tad smaller, as they are aquatic insects.)
Join us on Saturday, October 12 for HRWC’s autumn River Roundup. You can bring a small group of friends or we’ll put you on a team with other awesome HRWC volunteers. The outing takes about 4 hours and starts at either 9:00 or 10:30 am (you get to choose!). We’ll send you to some really cool spots around the watershed to track down some of those critters. When you return we’ll have a nice snack to share over your stories in the wild!
For info and to register, please check out www.hrwc.org/volunteer/roundup.
*Lampyridae, Tabanidae, and Belostomatidae are, respectively, fireflies, horse flies, and giant water bugs – OH MY!!
On Wednesday afternoon I joined a group of paddlers (all women!) to test drive a few rafts down the river with the idea of developing senior programming for the City of Ann Arbor and possibly in concert with the UM Turner Geriatric Center. Yep, I never thought of rafting the river but it is a great way to get small children and senior citizens out on the river safely while providing some education and guidance about the river.
It was a gorgeous sunny day to take the trip from Argo livery to Gallup Park. Gallup Park canoe livery and launch is under construction but you can take out at the boat launch just a bit downstream. Unfortunately the river in this section was considerably impacted by some odd operations at Barton Dam so the water level dropped off. Where we were expecting about 400-500 cubic feet per second (CFS) of water in the river; we were greeted with only a mere 200 cfs. This made the ride through the Argo Cascades very bumpy and wet and then past the cascades, it meant a lot of walking and pulling the raft over rocky bottom.
We were the only boats on the river and it provided us an opportunity to see many birds. We saw two osprey as they hunted their way down the river from Riverside Park in Ann Arbor to downstream of Island Park. And we saw numerous blue herons (its hard to tell if you are seeing the same 2 over and over again, or new ones). They enjoy perching on logs or taller branches overlooking the river. Despite the river being very low, the water clarity was great and being up on a raft allowed a better vantage point to see the tons of fish and river bottom. The section below Island Park back by Fuller fields seems like a great, remote fishing spot.
In terms of senior programming, we had a few findings:
- the Argo Gallup trip is too long for seniors to sit without back support and being jostled. A shorter trip (maybe Argo to Island Park–our new launch!) was a better offering than the longer trip to Gallup;
- getting in and out of the raft using the docks works very well for creaky bones and limited mobility;
- one camp chair fits in the middle of the raft for someone in need of back support;
- an experienced and “youthful” river guide is needed to steer the boat and assist entry and exit;
- we would need to set a lower limit of water in the river (probably 400-500 cfs) so you can stay in the boat the whole trip!;
- and finally, we need to tie in a pre-raft class at Turner as part of the programming.
If you have ideas about river trip programming for seniors please let me know as we will be developing our ideas over the winter.
I’m sorry I have no pictures of the trip, but my phone was in the drybag the whole time! Highly advised when you go through the Cascades in low water.
Nearly absent from much of Michigan due to the effects of DDT and other pesticide use, Michigan’s Osprey population continues to recover year by year. In Southern Michigan, monitoring efforts are in place to track the revitalization of this species. (See the Fall 2012 issue of The Huron River Report to hear about HRWC’s staff outing to visit ospreys nesting at Kensington Metropark). Historically, Osprey chicks have simply been banded each year as part of a National effort to monitor the species.
This year, in addition to banding, three osprey chicks from area nests will be outfitted with “Backpack” satellite telemetry units. These units were funded by grants from DTE Energy and American Tower Corporation and will help scientists track the young birds’ daily movement and seasonal migration patterns.
The exciting part is that anyone can follow along and find out where the birds are at any time on the DNR’s website. The DNR plans to use this website for educating youth and bringing wildlife into the classroom.
Please contact Holly Vaughn to schedule an osprey education program in your classroom: (248) 359-9062.
Summer is HRWC’s busiest season. Interns, summer staff, and advanced volunteers make so much possible.
Lauren Burns worked with Ric Lawson on the water quality monitoring program in Washtenaw County. She is a graduate of Ohio State University, where she studied Fisheries and Wildlife Management. Lauren shares, “my work with HRWC allows me to immerse myself in a field that I am passionate about, while promoting environmental education and awareness in the community.”
Cameron Carpenter found his being a Summer Field Intern for HRWC a great experience. Not only did he learn more about field work and what it involves, but he got to meet a lot of really nice people. Cam notes, “It is an opportunity that will help me take a step forward as an environmental engineer.”
Michael Kaminski is a landscape architecture graduate student at University of Michigan’s (U-M) School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE). He spent his summer working with Rebecca Esselman and Ric Lawson on the Climate-Resilient Communities and Green Infrastructure programs. This included the production and dissemination of a toolkit for enhancing the climate resiliency of the watershed’s forest and tree resources, and the siting and design of green infrastructure projects for stormwater management in Washtenaw County.
Olivia Kincaid is a biochemistry major at Earlham College. She loves nature, in particular, water ecosystems. Olivia is thinking about a career in water conservation and environmental science, where she can utilize her interest in the environment. Olivia walked numerous creeks with a team of interns this summer identifying potential water resource problems.
Emma Maack is a graduate student in environmental policy at U-M’s SNRE and Ford School of Public Policy. She worked with Kris Olsson on the Portage Creek Watershed Plan Implementation project, researching local ordinances that affect water quality and coordinating field assessments for the Bioreserve program. Her internship was a great opportunity to work on local policy, understand watershed residents’ attitudes and concerns, and learn more about local ecology and the Huron River.
Josh Miller is a recent MS graduate in Environmental Policy and Planning from U-M. He worked this past year with Ric Lawson and others on the green infrastructure planning project in Washtenaw County. He is presently looking for work in Great Lakes or watershed policy and planning. He has “thoroughly enjoyed” his work with HRWC staff and is “grateful for the valuable experience.”
Kate Mlinarich is an Environmental Studies major at Schoolcraft College in Livonia.She worked with Jason Frenzel and Paul Steen on conducting stream walks to monitor the quality of different streams throughout Ann Arbor. She also helped develop a smart phone app to make gathering data in the field easier. Her career goal is to become a water quality /environmental technician and hopes to move to and work in Ann Arbor after graduation. She plans on volunteering at HRWC in the future as much as she can!
Becca Myers is a senior at the U-M studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Program in the Environment. She worked on a variety of projects at HRWC this summer, including research and improvement of HRWC’s Vertical Response email marketing system, as well as a field project that assessed the water quality of various streams of the Huron River.
Robert Olsen is a junior at U-M studying environmental sustainability. He helped HRWC by assessing water quality of various tributaries around Ann Arbor, and he researched river clean-up issues.
Derek Schrader organized and executed the summer recreation events this year. A recent graduate from Eastern Michigan University, Derek came to HRWC with a degree in Geotourism and Recreation & Park Management. He has been able to foster his passion for the environment and the relationship the community has with it through his work as the Recreation Coordinator for HRWC.
Rob Selesky, from Brighton, MI, is an Environmental Studies undergraduate student at Michigan State University. He is interested in natural resource conservation, land use, and sustainability. In his second summer at HRWC, he managed and coordinated the Water Quality Monitoring Program in Washtenaw and Wayne Counties, as well as the E. coli monitoring project in Honey and Mill Creeks.
Jhena Vigrass is an environmental studies and viola performance student at U-M. She worked with Pam Labadie on marketing and outreach projects that concentrated on raising awareness about the watershed and teaching residents how to help protect it. Jhena notes that this was a valuable experience for her and she had a great time working with all the HRWC staff.
Zach Zeneberg, is an Alumni of UM’s Program in the Environment and recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management at EMU. A professional bird trainer and environmental educator, Zach was excited to join HRWC as a management intern after researching the organization for a term paper, and has worked on a variety of projects including grant development, volunteer pool analysis, and HR policy evaluation. His personal mission is to find creative and effective methods of connecting people to nature for the benefit of both, and to that end he recently co-founded a nonprofit organization, Feathers Found, which will provide Animal-Assisted Therapy programs utilizing injured, non-releasable birds of prey (owls, hawks, etc).
Thank you, all!
HRWC offers scholastically-relevant internships as well as resume-building volunteer projects ranging from field biology to non-profit management.
River Network recognizes HRWC executive director for inspirational leadership.
Laura Rubin has been recognized as a 2013 River Hero by River Network, a national association of watershed protection groups. The award celebrates rivers and watersheds, recognizes victories, and honors those who provide leadership that inspires the work of others and uses innovative strategies and techniques to achieve significant results.
Laura, who is celebrating 15 years at HRWC’s helm, has been instrumental in establishing HRWC’s reputation as a regional and national leader in river protection work. Her leadership makes it possible to undertake innovative new initiatives like RiverUp!, a million dollar campaign for a river renaissance of the Huron River.
HRWC is known for its outstanding citizen scientist programs like Adopt-A-Stream and the Bioreserve Project, its stormwater and pollution management services for regulated communities, and programs that address natural areas protection, climate resiliency and water efficiency. Laura’s efforts have shaped HRWC into an organization that provides a framework for local governments, citizens, non-profits, industries and regulators to partner for the benefit of the Huron River and its watershed.
Rubin and HRWC have made a difference. A few notable achievements include:
- Implementing the first phosphorus reduction strategy in the state and seeing phosphorus numbers falling;
- Seeing the Village of Dexter embrace the river and build a vibrant downtown around the river through the successful removal of Dexter Dam;
- Protecting over 6,000 acres of high quality natural area and farmland with our partners in the watershed;
- Tackling climate issues making local communities more climate resilient and residents aware that saving waters, saves energy; and
- Developing a sound financial foundation for the organization, with a diverse source of funding. HRWC’s budget and ability to implement water quality programs has increased more than tenfold in her tenure, with an annual budget of $1,200,000 for fiscal year 2014.
“Laura has exceeded our expectations in building and leading team success–success in achieving measurable water quality results while creating programs designed to measure and accelerate further improvement of water quality throughout the watershed,” Evan Pratt, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and HRWC Board Chair.
Laura and four others were named River Heroes at River Network’s national conference, River Rally, in May. Long time colleague and friend Matt Naud, Environmental Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor traveled to St. Louis to introduce Laura at the award ceremony. “She has enthusiastically led our communities to the river . . . and we are better for it. Neither the Huron River nor the watershed communities who enjoy her will ever be the same thanks to our River Hero, Laura Rubin,” stated Matt.
Laura has also been recognized for her outstanding public service with a “Special Tribute” from the State of Michigan and a “Proclamation” from the City of Ann Arbor declaring May 20, 2013 “Laura Rubin Day”.
Catch the video of the award ceremony at River Rally.