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Archive for the ‘News to Us’ Category

News to Us

Ospreyplatform

Volunteers installing an osprey nesting platform in the Huron River. Photo credit: 7 Cylinders Studio

Local osprey are being outfitted with tracking devices so you and researches can monitor their travels, a new online learning opportunity will improve your knowledge of lakes, and researchers are predicting another severe algal bloom in Lake Erie this summer.  Oil and gas pipeline accountability has been in the news a lot lately.  Here we pulled together three articles that will catch you up on the latest happenings.  And that is what is News to Us.

DNR monitoring osprey chick migration with GPS. Several osprey chicks have been outfitted with backpacks to help monitor the bird’s movements and growth. Two of the four chicks that will be monitored are from a nest in Kensington Metropark in Milford. There is a site where you can track the birds too at michiganosprey.org.

Introduction to Lakes course coming soon to a computer near you. With over 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan is home to many lake enthusiasts. If that describes you and you have always wanted to know more, Michigan State University Extension is now offering an online course providing in introduction to lakes.

‘Severe’ algal blooms forecast this summer on Lake Erie. Researchers are predicting a more significant algal bloom this year than the one last summer that shutdown Toledo’s water supply for several days. The bloom won’t necessarily lead to issues with drinking water but will certainly impact recreation on Lake Erie and the organisms that live in the lake.  Phosphorus runoff and heavy rains in June are two major contributors to the severity of the bloom. Conservationists are targeting large livestock operations for phosphorus reduction.

July has been a big month for news on oil and gas pipelines in Michigan.  Here is a sampling of articles sharing pieces of the larger issue of moving oil through our state’s waterways.

  • Life 5 years after the nation’s worst inland oil spill – NPR’s Environment Report revisits the Kalamazoo River oil spill which is the largest inland oil spill in US history caused by a break in an Enbridge pipeline that traversed this waterway.
  • Report calls for heavy crude oil ban in Straits of Mackinac pipeline – The Michigan DEQ led a special task force that released a report last week on the status and future of pipelines in the state. Of particular focus is the Enbridge pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. Some say the recommendations are a big step in the right direction for safety and accountability. Others assert it does not go far enough to protect our freshwater resources.
  • National Wildlife Federation to Sue Dept. of Transportation over Oil Pipeline Oversight Failures  — On the heels of this report, the NWF announced they plan to sue the federal government for failing to uphold the Oil Pollution Act which requires approval of a safety plan for pipelines which travel in, on or under inland waters. This lawsuit comes after much scrutiny and investigation into the safety of the Enbridge pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

News to Us

It has bAnn Arbor floodingeen a busy news month. Many exciting things happening at the global, national and state level that affects us right here in the Huron.  The environment took front seat in international news this month with Pope Francis’ encyclical. Our federal government finally provided clarity on the Clean Water Act by better defining “waters of the US”.  The State of Michigan has released a draft vision for water that includes a dramatic reduction in phosphorus to our waterways.  And not to leave out local action, the Ann Arbor Observer provides a look at how the University of Michigan handles stormwater.

Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change. The recent papal encyclical has been making waves among Catholics and far beyond. The document is a call to action bringing a moral argument to environmental protection and climate change.  A fascinating and welcome contribution to the environmental movement, if you haven’t read much about this, the article is a nice summary of the report and the implications.

Issues of The Environment: The Clean Water Rule. HRWC’s Elizabeth Riggs is interviewed about EPA’s ruling on Waters of the US, or the waters protected under the Clean Water Act.  She discusses how this ruling will impact our state and watershed and why this ruling is so important.

DEQ announces 30-year vision for water. The State’s draft water strategy addresses nutrient pollution, invasive species, boating and harbors and water trails.  The strategy also calls for investment in technologies that support clean water and the establishment of a fund to finance implementation of water strategy.  The vision is out in draft and the DEQ is accepting comments until August 28th.

More information on Michigan’s Water Strategy and how to comment can be viewed here

Calming the waters.  This editorial provides a deeper dive into the issue of phosphorus pollution, reduction goals, and how Michigan needs to do more to make meaningful progress toward those goals and make appropriate contributions to a region-wide effort to reduce problems in the Great Lakes resulting from excess phosphorus in our lakes and waterways.

Storm Over the U-M: The city and county have strict new stormwater requirements. But the university isn’t on board.  Water knows no political boundaries which can create tension over responsibility for and management of this resource. When it rains on our cities and towns, it needs to be managed to avoid flooding, erosion and other stormwater related issues. This article chronicles ongoing tension around stormwater management by the University of Michigan.

News to Us

How much water is needed to produce the food we eat?

How much water is needed to produce the food we eat?

HRWC’s work has been highlighted in some news recently covering volunteer stream monitoring and the significance of water to Michigan’s economy.  In national news, FEMA now requires climate change be considered when planning for natural disasters.  Finally, a fun interactive piece allows you to calculate the water footprint of your favorite meals.

Volunteers in forefront of monitoring Great Lakes streams
HRWC leads the statewide Michigan Clean Water Corps program which provides training and funding to groups throughout the state that want to use volunteers to monitor the condition of our rivers and streams.  The program has supported volunteer monitoring efforts at more than 800 sites in Michigan and all of the data is shared publicly online. Learn about similar programs in other Great Lakes states as well.

Include Climate Change in Disaster Planning, FEMA Says States and local governments are required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to have a current Hazard Mitigation Plan.  These plans help communities understand risks and vulnerabilities associated with disasters such as flooding or oil spills.  FEMA recently announced that revisions to these plans (which occur every 3-5 years) must take into account climate change; a requirement that will help us be better prepared for more extreme weather events.

New report highlights broad impact of water on Michigan’s economy At least one in five jobs in Michigan is tied to water? Yes, according to a new report on the importance of our water to the State’s economy. HRWC’s RiverUp! program is highlighted in the report as one of Michigan’s “Blue Places” where communities are embracing rivers and lakes as amenities contributing to local economies and quality of life.

832 gallons of water were used to make this plate By all accounts, the current drought in California is one of the most severe on record. And the impacts stand to affect us all.  There are many thought provoking articles, infographics and images fueling an ongoing discussion about water use and how we can be more thoughtful about our water consumption.  This interactive feature calculates the amount of water it takes to produce a plate of food.  Put together your favorite meal or the dinner you have planned for tonight and see what the water footprint is.  Try finding meals with lower water inputs.  We can all do our part to alleviate the demands on our finite water resources.

News to Us

Booms placed in the Huron River to capture oil leaking from an underground storage tank.

Booms placed in the Huron River to capture oil leaking from an underground storage tank.

In the news, the Huron River continues to receive more attention from both local governments and the national government.  Also, oil reached the river from a leak at a private residence near Portage Lake.  Finally read two stories covering new research, one fueled by data collected by citizens, the other from a University of Michigan researcher on microplastics in the Great Lakes.

Ypsilanti adopts designation of Michigan Trail Town along Huron River Ypsilanti City Council has formally adopted the designation of Huron River “Trail Town”.  Ypsilanti is one of five, along with Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor and Flat Rock, water trail towns along the Huron that are working to maximize the benefits of being situated right on the river.  The Huron offers recreation, economic and aesthetic benefits as well as many ecological benefits.

Federal agencies assist in oil leak  There was an oil spill on private property in Pinckney last week. Some of that oil ended up in the Huron River. Hazmat teams were called in to contain and clean up the spill.

200 years of citizen science predict the future of forests One family has left quite a legacy.  For generations, the descendants of Robert Marsham continued his efforts to capture the timing of leaf out and flowering of many plant species and the appearance of certain animals at their family estate in England. A researcher has used this information to look for trends in the data that may help us understand how natural communities may respond to changing temperatures. Citizen science helps us in many ways here at HRWC.  Who knows, maybe one day all of you HRWC volunteer data collectors will be part of a story told from 200 years of data on the Huron River!

National Designation Awarded to Huron River Water Trail  The Huron River Water Trail/RiverUp! is the cover story of the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association publication! The recent designation is continuing to get high profile press at the local, state and national level exposing a new audience to the treasure we have right here in southeast Michigan.

UM researcher says microplastics could threaten Great Lakes fish  Here at HRWC we keep our eyes and ears open for emerging threats to the river and citizen of the Huron River watershed.  Microplastics (microbeads and microfibers) are a somewhat recent addition to our aquatic systems.  This article discusses potential impacts of this pollutant coming out of new research from the University of Michigan. Legislation has been introduced at the State to ban products containing microbeads.

News To Us

Snowy Huron by Dan Bruell

Snowy Huron by Dan Bruell.

This edition of News to Us shares news of Minnesota’s proposed steps toward protecting state waters, while New Jersey proceeds with a controversial decision that bypasses voter involvement. Read to learn about a diabetes drug affecting fish in Lake Michigan as well as increasing recognition of the Huron River Water Trail.

Minnesota Governor Dayton to propose environmental buffer zone for all state waterways. Governor Mark Dayton will be proposing legislation to protect Minnesota state waterways with fifty foot buffer zones, and is expecting opposition from farming interest groups.

New Jersey Governor Christie Signs Bill ‘Siding With Private Water Companies’ Over Public Water. Governor Chris Christie signed the controversial “Water Infrastructure Protection Act” which allows municipalities to sell their public water utilities to private businesses without putting the measure to voters.

Diabetes drug affecting fish in Lake Michigan. A recent study has found that the popular Diabetes drug, Metformin, is affecting the hormonal system of fish in Lake Michigan.

The 10 Most Important Water Stories in 2014. Peter Gleick with the Pacific Institute, and Carl Ganter of Circle of Blue, list the ten most important water stories of 2014 with #8 and #10 affecting our region.

Communities along the Huron River are embracing the Huron River Water Trail’s recent designation as the 18th National Water Trail by the National Park Service:

News To Us

River Raisin. Julie Falk.

A snowy river. Photo: J. Falk

This edition of News To Us includes a recent interview with HRWC’s Executive Director Laura Rubin, and news of water conservation efforts in California. Read an update from the residents affected by the West Virginia chemical spill, the results of a hydraulic fracturing study in northeast Ohio, and an invasive species newly added to the Michigan DNR’s prohibited list. Finally, a mobile phone application allows local citizens to provide important stream data to scientists.

Issues of The Environment: The Dangers Of Coal Tar Sealants. HRWC’s Executive Director, Laura Rubin discusses the dangers of coal tar sealants with WEMU’s David Fair.

Michigan Adds 7 Aquatic Species To Prohibited List. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources bans possession of an additional seven invasive aquatic species.

Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development Proposes Addition of Water Soldier to State’s Prohibited Plant List. Water Soldier has recently been found invading the Trent-Severn waterway in Ontario.

Los Angeles, City of Water. Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles has become a leader in water conservation efforts and possibly a model city for others to look to in the future.

On The Anniversary Of The Elk River Chemical Spill, West Virginians Tell Their Stories. An update from residents who were affected.

Study: Fracking Triggered 77 Earthquakes in Ohio. A recent study proves a stronger connection between fracking and local earthquakes in Ohio.

Stream app turns Great Lakes citizens into scientists. Indian Springs Metropark at the Huron’s headwaters, is setting up several stream gauge stations that allow citizens to aid in gathering data via a phone app.

Sustainable Ann Arbor Monthly Series Kicks Off Jan 8. A think tank of local stakeholders, including community organizations, local government staff, businesses and residents, will join the public to discuss local sustainability efforts and challenges.

News to Us

This edition features an update on recent legislation battling the Asian Carp, while Grand Rapids takes the lead in measuring the impact of its climate change efforts.  How did our water system become so disconnected, and how can we fix it? The Great Lakes Commission is working to answer this question by looking at the water system more holistically. Read about a true Huron River adventure from paddlers who kayaked over a gusty and rainy Halloween weekend.

Legislation Seeks Interim Steps to Stop Asian Carp Representative Dave Camp and Senator Debbie Stabenow join forces to fight the Asian Carp.

What Can Cities Really Do About Climate Change? Over a thousand US cities have agreed to abide by the Kyoto Protocol. The Mayor’s Climate Protection Center has been documenting these efforts, but measuring the impact has been difficult.  Since 2009, Grand Rapids’ sustainability plan has been tracking progress to measure its success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Fractured Water: Can metro Detroit reconnect its watersheds? Our water system has evolved into a system that is fractured and disconnected.  How did rivers become this way and what can be done to return the river to its natural state?

Halloween Storm 2014 on the Huron River Water Trail The Huron River Water Trail “Paddler’s Companion” came in handy for these paddlers who traversed the length of the Huron this fall.  Their trip is inspiring to those who wish to make the 125 mile trek. These guides can be purchased at the HRWC office or online here.

News to Us

A "view" of Allens Creek. Allens Creek, a tributary of the Huron River, is almost entirely buried under the city of Ann Arbor.

A “view” of Allens Creek from West Park in Ann Arbor.  Allens Creek, a tributary of the Huron River, is almost entirely buried under the city of Ann Arbor.

A couple of recent interviews cover HRWC’s RiverUp! project and watershed management planning efforts for Honey Creek. A very cool project in San Francisco is “daylighting” buried rivers through artist’s renderings. This edition of News to Us also highlights news from Dexter, the river that runs through it – Mill Creek, and a man influential in both his town and his watershed – Paul Cousins. Finally, more oil activity in the watershed as injection well is proposed in White Lake.

Bringing life, recreation and business back to the Huron River An Ypsilanti blogger interviews HRWC Deputy Director Elizabeth Riggs about RiverUp!. The result is a great conversation that paints a lovely picture of what the Huron River is and can be. Learn how this project is improving river health, encouraging river recreation and building trail towns along the Huron that bring focus to this incredible resource in our backyard.

Honey Creek Watershed Management Plan Released Listen to a brief radio interview with Ric Lawson on the recent release of the Honey Creek Watershed Management Plan.  Honey Creek is a tributary of the Huron River that runs through Scio Township.  Learn what threatens this creek and plans to improve its condition. Several other resources, including HRWC’s creekshed reports, can be found on our website to learn more about Honey Creek.

San Francisco Is Painting the Streets with Historical Creeks All too often, as cities were built rivers were contained in pipes and buried underground. A new initiative in San Francisco will have artists rendering rivers along their path through the city. Should we try this with Allens Creek? If we did you would “see” the river running throughout downtown Ann Arbor and west side neighborhoods from the UM stadium down to its outlet below Argo Dam.  A reminder of what was.

Trout Unlimited group conducts survey at Mill Creek in Dexter The Huron River’s Mill Creek runs through Chelsea and Dexter before joining the mainstem of the river in Dexter. It is one of the cooler stretches of river and once the Mill Creek dam was removed, it became a desirable location to establish a trout fishery.  While not a native fish to the Huron, the success of brown trout in Mill Creek indicates the tributary is in good condition and it brings anglers and families to the river to enjoy. This article shares the status of stocking efforts that began in 2010.

Dexter Council recognizes Paul Cousins for years of service Dexter Village Council takes time to honor Paul Cousins for his years of service to the community of Dexter. Paul has been an intrepid board member and board chair at HRWC for many years. His tireless effort and enthusiasm was instrumental in the Mill Creek dam removal project and creation of Dexter’s Mill Creek Park.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul as well, for everything he has done and will yet do for Dexter, the watershed and all of us who live here.

Oil exploration company suspends request for White Lake park injection well Over the past two weeks, citizens of White Lake township and nearby areas, have been reacting to a proposed injection well, cited for Island Lake Park, for the disposal of oil extraction waste. For now, the applicants have withdrawn their application from the EPA for the permit claiming there is not enough need for the local well at this point.

News to Us

Many breweries in the area rely on Huron River water.  Credit: John Lloyd

Many breweries in the area rely on Huron River water. Credit: John Lloyd

In local news, listen to radio interviews with two HRWC staff  on our environmental education work and the addition of a new dock at Peninsular Park.  A new report identifies nature as a best defense against severe storms and flooding.  Also, land and water conservation is on the ballot throughout the nation and craft brewers are uniting around clean water.

Mother Nature Offers Best Defense From Floods and Storms Mother Nature is one of the best defenses against damage from large storms and flooding.  Protecting our forests and wetlands provides benefits far beyond beauty and biodiversity.  A recent National Wildlife Federation report explores the benefits of land protection as a flood control strategy. HRWC’s Bioreserve Program, Green Infrastructure initiatives and riparian buffer protections work all contribute to the watershed’s natural ability to lessen the impacts of storms in our area.

Freshwater Health: Caring for our rivers, lakes and streams and their aquatic inhabitants and surrounding communities WCBN’s It’s Hot in Here program this week includes three interviews on freshwater issues affecting the Great Lakes.  HRWC’s Volunteer and Stewardship Coordinator Jason Frenzel discusses our education programs and community engagement beginning around the 45 minute mark.

Craft brewers join the fight against natural gas pipelines Craft brewers understand the importance of clean water. After all, beer is 90% water.  Brewers in the Huron River watershed have been great partners to HRWC over the years. This article highlights a national initiative to unite craft brewers around water quality issues. This article is an interesting read and highlights one of the many less obvious benefits of clean, plentiful water.

Voters Will Decide On Billions For Land Conservation  On Election Day, voters will be deciding whether or not to support land and water conservation throughout the nation. Some of the biggest initiatives are in California, Florida and New Jersey.  Many local level initiatives to support the preservation of open space are being put in front of voters as well. In fact, Washtenaw County residents will vote on a millage renewal for county parks.  The Washtenaw County Parks system has contributed parks, preserves and trails that improve recreational opportunities, erosion and stormwater control, pollution prevention and the beauty of our watershed. You can learn more about the county parks system in The History of Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission video.

New Dock For Ypsilanti’s Peninsular Park As part of the RiverUp! program, a new dock has been installed at Ypsilanti’s Peninsular Park replacing a dock that had fallen into disrepair making river access and recreation difficult. This is part of a larger initiative to encourage river and trail recreation in the Huron River watershed, particularly in five “Trail Towns” along the Huron River Water Trail including Ypsilanti.

News to Us

2014_05_23_Greenhills_teaching_(2)_-_smallIn News to Us this edition, HRWC receives a grant to teach students about the river and a new app allows citizen scientist to record invasive species locations.  Also, Great Lakes Echo produces a podcast reviewing the month in Great Lakes environmental news. Finally, the oil and gas industry makes headlines again in our area.

Grant Will Help Huron River Watershed Council Take Classroom Learning Outdoors HRWC’s Volunteer and Stewardship Coordinator, Jason Frenzel contributes to a piece highlighting a recent grant we received to work with K-12 students throughout the watershed to get them out in the rivers, learning how to sample and building an understanding of the condition of our creeks and streams.

To catch a predator: Citizens enlisted to track invasive species  Here at HRWC we are proud of our citizen scientists.  They do much to help support our mission and protect the natural resources of our area.  Now there is another way you can contribute right through your smartphone.  MISIN, or the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, has developed an app that lets you report locations of non-native species.  With a lot of eyes on the ground (and in the water), MISIN can gain insights into the spread of invasives and how to stop them.

Great Lakes in review: mayors on algae, restoration update This great podcast series recently came to our attention.  Great Lakes Echo is producing monthly podcasts summarizing the month in environmental stories from around the Great Lakes.  If you want to stay up to date on regional environmental issues, tune into this series.  The most recent podcast covers September including the Summit on Water Resources lead by the region’s mayors and spurred on by the Toledo drinking water ban, and updates to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which now require projects incorporate climate change adaptation.

We continue to see a lot of news on oil and gas issues both within the Huron River watershed and the broader Great Lakes region.  Here are two recent articles on a proposed pipeline that would be built through Washtenaw and Livingston Counties and how local communities are responding.


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