Archive for the ‘News to Us’ Category
This edition of News to Us starts with a success story and we all like success stories. Learn also about the islands of plastic polluting our Great Lakes. We share a few opportunities to attend public events on flooding and fracking. Read also a refreshing perspective on approaching river conservation by finding common ground among individual objectives.
A Tern for the Better: The Detroit River Comeback The common tern has returned to Belle Isle after a 50 year absence. The refuge on Belle Isle is a bright spot showing what can be when we invest in wildlife habitat even in the most urban of places. Read about the successes of our neighbors to the north.
Polluting Plastic Waste Invades Great Lakes: Pacific Garbage Patch May Have a Rival This article brings to light a less often cited, yet major source of pollution in the Great Lakes. Plastics in our waters have implications for birds, fish and other organisms in the food chain. Consider finding ways to keep plastics out of our waterways like switching to reusable bags and cleaning debris and trash away from stormdrains that carry plastics directly to our waterways during rain events.
Ann Arbor kicks off $1.2M study of sewer system, footing drain program and basement sewage backups It is the wet season again. Spring rains rejuvenate our rivers, groundwater, forests and landscaping. But for some households the rains can mean problems when water ends up in basements or sits on roads. Ann Arbor is holding a public meeting to provide updates on ongoing efforts to reduce damaging flooding including an assessment of the sanitary sewer system and footing drain disconnection program.
Sunday Brunch: A tiny trickle turns into a torrent of conservation issues for Michigan This blog from Helen Taylor, State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Michigan, shares a nice perspective on river protection. She encourages individuals and groups to consider the “whole-system” rather than a more personal view of the river with an eye on shared goals rather than win-lose propositions—a healthy lens through which to envision the path to a healthy river serving many purposes for many interests.
University of Michigan to hold town hall on future of fracking in the state For those interested in learning more about the practice of fracking to extract natural gas, University of Michigan is hosting a forum on the topic this evening. As far as we are aware, there are no plans for fracking in the watershed at this time but there is very active debate on this topic at the national and state level.
This edition of News to Us highlights a number of proposed changes to State level policies that will affect the natural resources of the Huron River Watershed. With State budgeting underway, a lot of changes are on the table. It is a good time to keep an eye on the legislature and speak up where you have an opinion.
Michigan House GOP eyes Natural Resources Trust Fund for roads, dredging The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a source of funding developed for the purchase and development of recreational lands. Recently, the Michigan House Republicans proposed using MNRTF for activities outside of the current scope of the funds such as road repair and dredging of harbors. There has been a lot of response to this proposal in the news. We believe this proposal diverts scarce public funds available for parks development and purchase and thwarts efforts for the long-term protection of Michigan’ outdoors, lakes, and rivers . Here are two different responses to the proposal. (For those interested, there are many more op/eds available at detroitnews.com) What do you think?
- Editorial: Free the Natural Resources Trust Fund
- Letter: Natural Resources Trust Fund serves real purpose
Governor calls for higher license fees for hunting, fishing In other State government news, Governor Snyder proposed increases to hunting and fishing licenses to help raise funds for outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation programs. The proposal is a welcome one for sporting and conservation groups. Revenue will support, among other things, the hiring of conservation officers who’s numbers have dwindled over the years due to budget cuts. For more on the topic, also see this article from Livingston Daily: Conservation groups OK with fee hikes.
Bill aims to restrict state’s ability to manage for biodiversity This article highlights the latest attempt to limit the ability of our state Department of Natural Resources to acquire land and manage for biodiversity. We believe this undermines a critical role of a state DNR and leaves no entity responsibility for the plants, animals and ecosystems that make Michigan a special place. The DNR can manage for resource use and biodiversity goals together and in doing so residents of Michigan realize significant economic and quality of life benefits.
Read the latest edition of our bi-weekly roundup of headlines that have caught our eye.
The first three articles tackle aspects of pollution—a new threat and two ways you can help reduce pollution to our rivers and lakes. Also read about one high school student’s experience as an HRWC volunteer and about Ypsilanti’s efforts to protect the Huron through a master plan revision.
Smart Lakefront Plants How can you make your shoreline work for you and help keep lakes and rivers clean? This article by a Michigan State University Extension agent provides guidance on naturalizing shorelines with native plants that help filter pollutants and protect shorelines.
Are Rain Gardens Mini Toxic Cleanup Sites? If you would like to learn more about the intricacies of how rain gardens work and what they accomplish, give this blog a read. It provides an in depth look at rain gardens in their role in pollution clean-up and helps address concerns about perceived risks to pets and humans.
Study: Triclosan Increasing in Lakes. Triclosan is a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps and it is showing up in waterbodies in the Great Lakes. Scientists are uncovering early evidence of adverse effects of this chemical to algae. The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence these soaps work any better than regular soap and water for keeping us healthy. FDA is also looking into hazards to human health and its contribution to creating resistant strains of bacteria.
My Experience: Huron River Water Council Volunteer Opportunities Here at HRWC, we go out of our way to make our volunteer experiences enjoyable and beneficial to our volunteers. Volunteers help us accomplish so much of our work each year, it is invaluable. So it is nice to see one of our recent volunteers share her experience in this contribution to AnnArbor.com. If you have not volunteered with us before and would like to, visit our volunteer page for opportunities to help protect the Huron River.
Ypsilanti master plan, zoning ordinance update to target land use, transportation and sustainability. The Huron River is one of the priorities to address with Ypsilanti’s new master plan. The master plan and ordinance development will include public input. If you are an Ypsilanti resident, help speak up for the river, its protection and sustainable use by engaging in this process.
Read the latest edition of our bi-weekly roundup of headlines that have caught our eye.
This edition, we cover an opportunity for White Lake residents to participate in a visioning process for parks and recreation; several updates on the redevelopment of properties in Ann Arbor that impact the river; the announcement of a new director for Huron-Clinton Metroparks; a disappointing new federal ruling on stormwater; and a local look at what it means to have the hottest year on record.
White Lake to Hold Community Visioning Session If you are a White Lake resident, consider attending tonight’s community visioning session to help define the future of parks and recreation in the township. Participation in events like this is one of simplest and most influential ways of shaping the community you live in. There is a survey available for those that want to give input but are unable to attend the visioning session
DTE Energy calling cleanup of riverfront MichCon site in Ann Arbor a huge success Most of the cleanup work along the river below Argo is now completed. There will be some additional riparian plantings in the spring and there is another contamination spot on the site that will require cleanup based on the ultimate use of the 14 acre property. This area has great potential for smart riverfront development in Ann Arbor and can contribute to the vision the RiverUp! project sets forth.
Ann Arbor continuing to pursue greenway vision for 721 N. Main and 415 W. Washington sites Plans for a couple of sites owned by the City of Ann Arbor will be redeveloped as part of a broader greenway vision for Allen Creek. Allen Creek is a highly developed and impaired tributary of the Huron River. In addition to having open space in this area to enjoy, the greenspace will provide some stormwater treatment in an area that is highly impacted by stormwater runoff.
Ex-Oakland County water commissioner now Metroparks director The Huron-Clinton Metroparks system is of huge importance to residents of southeast Michigan with nearly 25,000 acres in 13 parks, many of which preserve natural lands along the Huron River. The Metroparks are a vital partner in the Huron River Water Trail and Riverup! projects. We would like to congratulate John on his new post.
Court Holds for First Time That EPA Cannot Regulate Stormwater as a Pollutant under the Clean Water Act This court decision may at first seem narrowly related to EPA’s ability to develop flow-based pollution limits (i.e. TMDLs). However, depending on how the precedent is read, it could be interpreted broadly to suggest that EPA does not have the authority to regulate stormwater at all unless it is directly regulating pollutants in the stormwater. For those involved with stormwater management, this decision could impact post-construction control regulations. This is not a good decision for those working to seeking to reduce runoff from impervious surfaces.
2012: One Hot Year As the new year arrives, you may have been seeing many headlines looking back over the past year. There has been a lot of buzz around the latest weather data. 2012 was the hottest year on record in the United States. What does this look like in Michigan? Listen to an interview with State Climatologist Jeff Andressen to find out.
Check out the latest edition of our bi-weekly roundup of headlines that have caught our eye. Read about a potential new invader and an exciting redevelopment prospect for Ypsilanti. Consider taking a walk for some inspiration, or reading one of ten top recommended books on sustainability.
Round goby, an invasive fish, appears to be making way up Rouge River in southeast Michigan
If gobies can make it up the Rouge, they can make it up the Huron—at least until they hit Flat Rock and stub their noses on the dam. But this makes us curious if gobies are hanging out at the lower end of the Huron River and wreaking the havoc they tend to do. Has anyone from downriver seen evidence of gobies? Please let us know if you do.
Former Ypsilanti landfill could be site of $4M DTE Energy solar project
A solar energy company and DTE are proposing the installation of a large solar array on a retired landfill site in Ypsilanti. There are several steps that have to occur before this project becomes a reality but it is a great example of redevelopment. Utilizing an otherwise unusable piece of property to generate power and revenue for the city seems like a really cool idea to us.
Hiking in nature increases creativity
Next time you feel you are lacking some inspiration. Take a walk. A long walk. Without a phone. In one of the many natural areas in the Huron River watershed. Spending time outdoors in natural places has many known benefits. A boost to your creativity can now be added to that list. And we would venture a guess that a nice long paddle down the river would accomplish that same boost. Bundle up and give it a try.
10 Great Sustainability Books to Give as Gifts
Still looking for that perfect gift for someone? This blog summarizes 10 stellar books on topics related to sustainability by some of the heaviest hitters in the field.
News to Us will be taking a brief hiatus for the holidays. Look for the next issue mid January. Have a wonderful holiday season!
Read the latest edition of our bi-weekly roundup of headlines that have caught our eye. This edition chronicles several local successes for the river, the watershed and the communities of the Huron River plus a glimpse of how the nation is responding to water issues on the ballot and in the classroom.
Scio Township Purchases Property for Nature Preserve
A new 34 acre parcel along Mill Creek in Scio Township has been designated a nature preserve. The parcel has woods, wetlands, and Mill Creek, which joins the Huron River just a bit downstream in the Village of Dexter. The natural features and the protected land will clean and retain rain water benefiting Mill Creek. Kris Olsson, HRWC watershed ecologist assisted in the protection process. The park will have public access.
A Local Response to Climate Change
The City of Ypsilanti is one of three Southeast Michigan municipalities taking advantage of a grant from the Michigan Suburbs Alliance to develop a Climate Action Plan. The plan was adopted by the city council and a few actions identified in the plan are already underway. Climate Action Plans identify ways that communities can decrease their carbon footprint and therefore their contribution to global climate change. Typical actions often also have other economic, environmental and quality of life benefits.
2012 Election Results: U.S. Voters Favor Water
This article gives a look at how American’s voted on water-related issues throughout the nation during the recent election.
Getting Kids to Wise Up About Water Conservation
A community in Texas is using WaterWise kits and experiential learning to help teach students about water conservation. These kits come with some simple water efficiency technologies such as low flow showerheads and leak detection tools. HRWC shares these same kits with community members throughout the watershed, at festivals and similar events. Water conservation has benefits for the river, our groundwater, our pocketbooks, and it saves energy!
And last but not least, a nod to a couple of our watershed communities that have recently received acknowledgement for making gains in green development:
- Dexter Earns Gold Achievement in Environmental Leadership
- Ann Arbor Municipal Center project wins Gold LEED certification from Green Building Council