Archive for the ‘Restoration’ 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.
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.
Public Meeting, Monday, September 10, 7pm, Ann Arbor City Hall
In 2002, HRWC worked with partners to study severe erosion issues and recommend actions to restore the creek. The result was the Millers Creek Improvement Plan. The plan was recognized by the U.S. EPA as a model of an effective and complete plan. It made numerous recommendations for remediation and restoration, most of which focused on addressing the flashy flows. Many recommendations were implemented in a targeted neighborhood through the Millers Creek Rainwater Project.
The plan did not make recommendations to address the sediment that has been accumulating at the downstream portion of the creek, particularly in the City of Ann Arbor’s Ruthven Park. Sediment accumulation led to alteration of stream flow and periodic flooding across Geddes Road at Millers’ confluence with the Huron in Geddes Pond.
The City of Ann Arbor engaged Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc. to characterize and and quantify the sediment accumulation and make recommendations for management in Ruthven Park. The consultants and city staff are hosting an initial public meeting on Monday, September 10 at 7 pm at the City Hall. To hear more about what they have learned thus far and what they are planning to do, or to get your questions answered, see the City’s press release and join me at the meeting!
HRWC’s Bioreserve project field assessment volunteers have witnessed some pretty spectacular landscapes so far this field season! This includes extensive marsh and fen ecosystems in Lyndon Township and south of West Lake in Dexter Township. Volunteers are even taking their ipads out in the field to help with plant identification!
The field assessors are gathering data about natural areas in order to educate landowners about the ecological quality of their property and help conservancies and communities target their preservation efforts towards the most important natural areas.
For more information about the Bioreserve project, and if you’d like to join our field assessors, contact Kris Olsson
If you are a “Plant Person,” who can identify most wildflower, shrub, and tree species in a typical Michigan forest or wetland, we could especially use your help and expertise! You can join teams of assessors on these fun forays into the “wilderness!”
River Rally 2012 is underway in Portland, Oregon. I’m here with Laura, Kris, Pam and Jason and 600 members of the international watershed conservation community. For those of us who work to protect rivers, River Network’s Rally is the event of the year for sharing successes, making new connections, and seeing friends from across the country.
Field trips during Rally offer us the chance to see local rivers and hear directly from our peers about their projects. The five of us fanned out across the Portland area on Sunday to witness the following cool projects:
- Stream restoration via bicycle along the Springwater Corridor Trail that runs alongside Johnson Creek including a large salmon habitat enhancement project on the Willamette River built in 2011 with engineered log jams and a constructed riffle
- The decommissioned Condit Dam (October 2011) and newly free-flowing White Salmon River with a tour lead by the company and advocates directly involved in efforts to remove the dam
- Innovative green infrastructure projects in the City of Portland including a daylighted stream integrated into a housing project, ecoroofs, habitat restoration, and community-based green infrastructure
We’ve also been reminded that clean water makes great beer!
A section of Traver Creek that runs through Leslie Park Golf Course in Ann Arbor will be reconstructed later this year to improve and restore many of its natural features. The City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner are funding the project to address a section of the creek that has eroded over time.
The project partners are holding a public event to discuss the draft design tonight, April 30 at 7:30 pm at the Leslie Science Center. The meeting is open to all.
The project will also reconstruct portions of ponds at either end of the creek section. Those ponds will be deepened to provide more rainwater storage capacity and be redesigned to provide sediment settling areas.
Eroded stream banks will be reshaped and repaired, and a new floodplain area will be created along a portion of the creek. This “two-stage” design provides streamside wetlands that slow flood waters down and filter out nutrients and pollutants. Additional wetland areas will also be recreated where there is evidence of their previous existence. The wetlands provide further stormwater filtration capacity as well as wildlife habitat. A secondary stream channel will also be re-established where it used to run prior to construction of the golf course. The whole project will be vegetated with native plant materials.
The project will begin following the end of the golf season and should be mostly completed by the spring start of the 2013 golf season. HRWC are monitoring the site before and after construction to measure its impact. Benefits should include runoff volume, phosphorus and sediment reductions to address problems identified in watershed management plans.
Information and “how-to” for shoreline property owners.
There are a couple of opportunities for lakeshore residents this spring to learn about innovative practices to protect their shorelines now and in a changing future climate. One is a local workshop in Oakland County and the other is a statewide conference.
The local workshop on natural shorelines, Creation, Restoration, and Management of Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan Inland Lakes is being held on Saturday, March 17, 2012, 9 am- 12:30 pm, at the Independence Oaks County Park, Wint Nature Center in Clarkston. See the workshop flyer for more information and to register by the March 9 deadline.
For those interested in more detailed technical information and broad-ranging discussion on a number of shoreline-related topics, the 2nd Annual “Shoreline and Shallows” Conference may be for you. The conference will be held in Lansing on Wednesday, March 7. Visit the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership’s website for more information on the conference. Register by March 1.
Funding Secured for Bioreserve Project
Thanks to funding from the Carls Foundation and Consumers Energy Foundation, HRWC will continue and enhance our Bioreserve Project, which aims to assess and protect the highest quality remaining natural areas in the watershed.
HRWC will provide technical support, land owner contact, and deal development with the 5 Southeast Michigan land conservancies working in our watershed: Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy, Legacy Land Conservancy, Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy, Livingston Land Conservancy, and North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy.
We will also develop new partnerships with the Huron Clinton Metroparks and community natural areas preservation programs in providing natural area assessment services, including GIS computer mapping data and analyses, enhanced field assessments, and recommendations for permanent protection and restoration strategies.
With local communities, HRWC will specifically focus on identifying and protecting the most ecologically important natural areas for protection in local master plans and ordinances.
But there is something you can do.
Growing up, my family’s summer vacations always centered on water. Whether it was camping along the St. Lawrence River and exploring the Thousand Islands on my Dad’s boat, or jumping off the dock at our favorite lake in Ontario, or searching for stoneflies and tubing in the Delaware River, my childhood’s most enjoyable moments had a tie to clean water. In fact, it is easy to trace all of my schooling and my current job as Watershed Ecologist with the Huron River Watershed Council directly back to all of these experiences. This is why it makes me profoundly sad when I now take similar summer vacations and see degradation in our water resources that simply wasn’t there when I was growing up.
Four years ago my family spent a week on one of the smaller Finger Lakes in the central New York area. It was a new lake for us, but the pictures looked good. Imagine our disappointment upon arriving to find the entire shoreline choked with Eurasian Milfoil. Swimming along the shoreline was impossible, which ruined the experience for the kids, and getting the boat out to the deeper, weed-free water required oars because the plant wrapped around and locked up the propeller. No summer vacation is free from invasive species anymore; I see zebra mussels, quagga mussles, round gobies, eurasian milfoil, curly-leaf pond weed, and starry stonewort wherever I go. They are in the Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers and creeks… they are everywhere.
One part of my job here at the Watershed Council has me working with lake groups across Michigan as a part of the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP). A terrific part of the CLMP is the Aquatic Exotic Plant Watch, in which volunteers are trained to identify common invasive plants and are then asked to patrol the shallow areas of their lakes where the plants are likely to be found. Early detection is key to keeping invasive plants out. If volunteers can find a plant before it becomes established throughout the lake, preventing the spread of the plant is much easier, cheaper, and effective. It is virtually impossible to remove the plants once they are established in a lake- chemical treatments and weed harvesting are like taking an aspirin to fix a broken leg.
However, I am often left scratching my head over resounding unpopularity of the Aquatic Exotic Plant Watch. Of the 220 lakes regularly enrolled in the various programs offered by the CLMP, we rarely get more than 20 lakes join the plant watch each year. Why don’t more people care? If I lived on a lake, most of my free time would be spent on the water; swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking. My family would spend vacations there; in 30 years my grandchildren would be visiting me there and building their own wonderful connections to water. If I lived on a lake, and maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to do so, keeping these exotic weeds out would be my number one priority. I would do everything possible to keep my lake clean, free from invasive species.
For those of you that do live on a lake… don’t you love it? Don’t you want to keep it clean and free from invasive plants? Don’t you want your kids and your grandkids and great-grandkids to enjoy it as much as you do? Now is the time to act; before it is too late. A first step would be to join the CLMP Program and get involved in the Aquatic Exotic Plant Watch, or get involved in another preventative program like Clean Boats Clean Waters. No one else is going to do this for you; it is your lake, and it is yours to protect.
A lot of my time over the past few months has been spent figuring out how we can eliminate some of the impairments (problems) to sections within our watershed. We know from our monitoring and sampling by DEQ that a number of sections in our watershed are impacted by phosphorus, unnatural flows and resulting erosion, or bacteria. These impaired sections appear on the states impaired waters list.
Thanks to stimulus funds provided through the DEQ, we have been working with our community partners to evaluate six sections of our watershed for current impairment status and recommend activities to eliminate the impairments. Our evaluation included new analysis of pollutant loading based on data collected through our water quality monitoring program. In several cases, the analysis indicated that past actions have already resulted in pollutant reduction to achieve water quality standards. In others, it suggests that we still have some work to do.
The six plans are now being reviewed by DEQ. You are welcome to review and comment as well. Plans for Livingston County can be found on theLivingston Watershed Advisory Group page, and plans for Washtenaw County can be found on the Middle Huron Stormwater Advisory Group page.
Now that the plans are complete, I am turning my focus toward developing the partnerships and finding funding sources needed to implement the activities we are recommending. All part of the work of a watershed planner here at HRWC.