Archive for the ‘Maps’ Category

2016 Results Are In! (at least some of them)

Watershed tour stop showing phosphorus levels at sites on South Ore Creek

Watershed tour stop showing phosphorus levels at sites on South Ore Creek

In January, HRWC staff and volunteers got together to celebrate another successful season of data collection. Call it a Water-Nerd-Fest, if you like, as we all geeked-out on the results from this year’s monitoring. The new twist this year was structuring our findings to focus on different tributary “Creeksheds,” similar to the way we have developed Creekshed Reports. Using that framework, we took volunteers on a tour of the watershed from the mouth at Lake Erie to the river’s named origin flowing out of Big Lake.

Phosphorus levels in the middle section of the Huron River Watershed

Phosphorus levels in the middle section of the Huron River Watershed

Stevi Kosloskey and I talked about results from the Water Quality Monitoring Program, in which we sample stream water chemistry and track stream flows. The results from 2016 and past years really provide a tale of three different watersheds: the lower section is characterized by lots of developed land which corresponds with generally poorer water quality. The middle section also has some development, but is also mixed with forest and agriculture lands, and much effort and resources have been invested in treating urban runoff (see Summer 2016 and 2015 newsletter articles for more detailed analysis of the impacts of those investments). Subsequently, we saw our lowest phosphorus concentrations from that region in 2016 and the bacteria levels are strongly declining as well. Upstream in the Chain of Lakes region, there is much less development and large areas of protected lands, and we see generally better water quality, though there are signs of decline to keep our eyes on.

We also discussed findings from River Roundup, habitat and Bioreserve programs. Sign-up to volunteer for these in 2017 so you can join the fun, learn more about the watershed, and get your science geek on!

New Paddler’s Companion Edition Available!

We have some exciting news for you!


A new and improved Huron River Water Trail Paddler’s Companion is now available.

  • Improved realistic map features to give paddlers a better understanding of the trail, launch sites, and nearby available amenities.
  • Distances and float times for selected popular trips, including access points and the Trail Town traveled through.
  • Our personal favorite: A new Trail Town section detailing the Five Trail Towns; Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock. Read for tailored paddling information, special highlights, places to go, popular events, and the history of each town.


Paddle down the river with ease and confidence, while learning about the rich history and culture of each Trail Town you pass. The Huron River Water Trail offers more than a quick paddle: each trip abounds with wildlife, beautiful scenery, and now a deeper connection to the people and history that helped develop our commitment to the river.

The Paddler’s Companion is available for purchase at our online store.

You can also purchase it through our Southeast Michigan Retail Partners.

Now Showing: Portaging Argo Dam


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.

More creekshed reports available!


What creekshed do you live in? Check out our interactive creekshed map! 

As reported last September, HRWC is compiling all of our data on a creekshed scale, looking specifically at our creeks and the land that affects them.  We are synthesizing all of our knowledge on these creeksheds and putting them into easily digestible and colorful 4 page reports.

There are now seven creekshed reports available, including the Woods Creek report, which was just finished.

Woods Creek, located near Belleville, is the healthiest lower Huron River tributary.  There are several ordinances protecting the creek and there are many invested citizens who live in the watershed, including the Woods Creek Friends.

Creekshed Reports:




Your New Resource for Water Trail Trip Planning

Welcome to the virtual launch for the new Huron River Water Trail website!

HRWT_newweb_screenshot-300x275The new online tool, seven months in the making, offers a nearly complete Water Trail experience . . . minus the water.

While nothing beats trying out the site for yourself, here’s a sample of what to expect:

  • Clean, user-friendly interactive trip planning maps
  • Extensive trail amenities – where to grab a sandwich? where to pitch a tent? what activities are happening in the Trail Towns?
  • Real-time weather and stream flow information
  • Outfitters with canoe and kayak rentals
  • And much, much more

Are you looking for a lazy float on flat water or a chance to try your whitewater skills? Flat water, flowing river, portages, and other trail features are all mapped with recommended trips to last a few hours to a few days. Investigate the distance, time, level of difficulty, highlights, and more for each recommended trip.

The trail information and graphics complement the new Paddler’s Companion, the indispensable waterproof map book for the Huron River Water Trail. Get your own copy today!

Help us spread the word about the new planning tool for the Huron River Water Trail. Use it to plan your next trip! Tell you friends and family! And become a part of it by sharing your observations and photos.

HRWC acknowledges the planning and design team of The Greenway Collaborative, Inc. and Imageweaver Studio, the Partners of the Huron River Water Trail for their review and recommendations, and the support of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Erb Family Foundation, and the many partners of RiverUp!.

Measuring and Mapping Training, Sunday August 4th

Time to Get in the Water!

Have you always dreamed of making a difference? Of helping to protect a resource that sustains you, your family – your community?

Picture 063Then mark August 4th down in your calendars. We’re having a special training session for our Measuring and Mapping program, and we want you to join us.

You will learn how to “read a river” by characterizing the bed, banks and other indicators of stream health. No prior knowledge is necessary! Once you complete our training, you will form into teams to map a site on a later date selected by you and the team. You will go out into a stream in Livingston, Oakland, Wayne or Washtenaw County for about 4 hours later in the month — whenever is good for you! You will be walking IN the stream and possibly over uneven terrain when you map your site, so be prepared to get wet. Older children (9+) are welcome to attend, but each one must be accompanied by one adult.

The training session will be three hours on Sunday afternoon at the NEW Center at 1100 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

Registration ends August 1st! If you are a first time volunteer, please fill out this basic information form.

For more information, please email Jason or visit our Adopt-A-Stream website.

News to Us

H2O Hero, John Dingell, Laura Rubin

Friend of HRWC, Congressman John Dingell is now the longest standing member of Congress.

In this edition of our river news round up, read about river heroes from young to old, take a look back at your community through time using a new Google tool, learn what you need to know about ticks.

Muir Middle School Students Participate in Project GREEN, Clean Up Huron River Getting children out to the river is such a great way to build a connection to our environment.  A group of middle school students spent a day in the Huron cleaning up trash and taking water quality measurements.  Thanks to Mrs. Gustafson’s class at Muir Middle School in Milford for helping protect the Huron River!

A look back at modern-day John Dingell in Ann Arbor  As a clean water advocate and good friend of HRWC, we want to say congratulations to John Dingell for becoming the longest serving member of Congress.  He has been a strong advocate for the people of his district and has helped communities of the Huron River Watershed on many issues important to our quality of life.

Watch Michigan change over time using Google’s ‘Earth Engine’  Do you remember “how it used to be?” Take a look back in time with this cool new tool from Google that lets you look at your community and how it has changed over the recent decades.  Notice anything interesting, fun or sad?  Let us know in the comments.

There’s a tick boom in Michigan – Here are 5 things you should know  As many of our field volunteers can tell you, it is a bumper year for ticks in this area.  Don’t be alarmed.  Just be aware.  And use this resource and others to make sure that any ticks you may encounter did not leave behind more than an itchy bite and creepy feeling.

Preparation begins for $3.16M reconstruction of Madison Street in Old West Side  A new road project is set to include features that reduce stormwater impacts to the neighborhood residents, city infrastructure and the river.  Features like larger storm pipes and rain gardens can keep water out of our streets and basements.  The gardens, in particular also help keep pollutants and detrimental flows from reaching the Huron.  A large portion of this project is funded through Ann Arbor’s stormwater utility – a steady source of funds for proactive projects that help protect the river from stormwater impacts.


Webster Township Plans for the Future

A new build out report commissioned by Webster Township will help the township guide future development in a way that preserves its rural character and natural beauty.

The township commissioned Sarah Mills, a University of Michigan doctoral student at the School of Urban and Regional Planning, to perform the study, which shows the expected future level of residential and commercial development given existing allowable land uses in the township’s master plan and zoning ordinance.  The study then describes several alternative “build out” scenarios given different changes to the township’s policies.

Under current policies, the township can expect to see a tripling of households, from 2,306 to 6,830.  A build out study conducted by HRWC in 1992 showed similar results.  Both studies measured resulting impervious surfaces, which is a leading indicator of water quality.  Arms Creek, whose watershed is entirely within Webster Township, is currently a healthy creek with very little impervious surfaces covering the lands draining into it.  Only about 5% of the creek’s watershed is covered by hard surfaces like roads, driveways, rooftops, or parking lots. The pattern of future development as predicted by current policies would cover up to 15% of the creek’s watershed with impervious surfaces.

However, under various alternative scenarios, using certain zoning tools designed to allow future development to occur, but in a more compact way, impervious surfaces can remain at a healthy level.  The most effective of these tools included the use of transfer of development rights (TDR), where development at higher densities is transferred to areas where the community can accommodate increased development, and away from farming and natural areas where the community wishes to preserve rural character.  HRWC conducted a study of TDR which also reached similar conclusions about its effectiveness at keeping impervious surface low and preserving water quality.

The township will examine all the alternatives described in the study, and they plan to use the study as a guide in  developing policies that will maintain their community’s rural character as well as the health of Arms Creek.

Lyndon Township Residents Map Out Future

The group added natural area sites and linkages to a draft map provided by HRWC

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

Salamanders, Frogs, Snakes, Turtles…Oh My!

The blue spotted salamander is common in Michigan's woods and ponds. Photo: David Mifsud

Spring is here!  Trilliums are blooming, frogs are calling, and turtles are basking! As you spend more time outside conducting field work or simply enjoying “Pure Michigan,” be on the lookout for reptiles and amphibians in Michigan. When you see an amphibian or reptile, you can help state biologists by entering your observation into the Michigan Herp Atlas database (

The Michigan Herp Atlas Project is a database that documents the distribution of all herps in Michigan and is a resource for amphibian and reptile conservation.  The Michigan Herp Atlas Project relies on you to gather data about Michigan’s amphibians and reptiles. Your information is used to help evaluate species’ distribution, overall health, and current status in Michigan. Your observations are incredibly valuable to the preservation of Michigan’s herpetofauna and natural resources. Even the most informal or seemingly common observations are vital to this project: enter observations about the garter snakes you see in your garden, the toads hopping in the park, and even the unfortunate dead herp on the side of the road.  With your continued effort we will be able to document changes in herp populations and better protect and preserve our herpetofauna.

Please join in the effort to conserve Michigan’s wildlife by entering your herp observations into the Michigan Herp Atlas. Register at If you are a new user, simply register, then you can start adding your observations.  If you have any questions, you can contact David Mifsud.

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