Archive for the ‘RiverUp!’ Category
HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.
A favorite spot for me on the Huron River is the delta where the voluminous waters fan out and feed western Lake Erie. There’s something satisfying about witnessing the transition from river to Great Lake, and picturing the individual stories of how – and in what shape – those droplets traveled from their places of origin. I am reminded, then, that all of our collective actions in the watershed are woven into the waters flowing past me and I hope that we’ve done justice to the blue.
The river delta flies under people’s radars as a destination, especially for those who live outside the Downriver area. Few signs or road markers give away the location of the river’s terminus. The 40-minute drive from my house to this spot means that I don’t visit as often as I would like. But, in the past couple of years have I come to appreciate the last few miles of the river and its confluence with the lake for its natural beauty, as well as its historical significance and new opportunities for trail-based recreation. Besides, where else on the Huron River can you see a massive barge traversing the Great Lakes, or paddle into big water?
The expansive view of water, land, and sky is always changing and always beautiful. The marshlands and forested floodplains of Point Mouillee and nearby islands provide critical habitat for plants and animals as well as stopover locations for migrating birds and waterfowl. The delta sits within the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, a binational refuge covering nearly 6,000 acres of islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along 48 miles of Detroit River and western Lake Erie shorelines.
An old log road built during the War of 1812 remains under West Jefferson Avenue and is now known as Hull’s Trace – the newest addition to River Raisin National Battlefield Park. The National Park Service presence is increasing appreciation for this area through its educational programs both on- and off- the water, and reestablishing connections with the Wyandotte Nation that has deep roots here. The anonymity of the Huron River delta is slowly giving way as the National Park Service develops operations and as the Huron River National Water Trail gains paddling and fishing fans.
Drop me a line if you visit the delta and share your photos with HRWC on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the tag #huronriver50.
HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!
Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.
Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.
HRWC staff frequently presents our work at conferences and convenings both locally and farther afield. We don’t always get around to sharing that information with our followers, but May has been particularly full with such opportunities to share Huron River programs while learning from colleagues and making new connections. Here’s a snapshot of those appearances . . .
RiverUp! @ River Rally
Some river people say that if you can attend only one conference each year, then it should be River Rally. More than 400 members of the river and watershed conservation community gathered in early May at Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, and I was happy to be among them. My session titled “Transforming Your River into Main Street” showcased our RiverUp! efforts to restore and revitalize the river corridor through diverse partnerships, creative financing, and community engagement. Terrific reactions and conversations ensued with attendees from around the country such as Connecticut, Ohio, and California. Rally is hosted by River Network, a network of more than 2,000 state, regional and local grassroots organizations whose primary mission is protecting water resources.
Lakes Monitoring @ Boyne
Paul Steen reprised his trainer role at the annual Cooperative Lakes Monitoring training hosted by the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association at Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan. The 50 participants, from all over Michigan, attend to improve their skills in various water quality measurements for lakes. The training attracts registered participants in the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP) and other interested people about how to make water quality measurements and nearshore habitat assessments on their lakes. CLMP is the second oldest lake volunteer monitoring program beginning in 1974 by the state natural resource agency. Check out the inaugural webinar training co-hosted by Paul from earlier this month for details on the CLMP.
Climate Preparedness @ National Adaptation Forum
Rebecca Esselman represented HRWC at the 2nd National Adaptation Forum in St. Louis. While in the Show-Me-State, she participated in a day-long workshop on “Collaborating for Climate Preparedness” where a local non-profit pairs with a local municipality partner to learn about various examples for collaborating. Matt Naud, City of Ann Arbor Environmental Coordinator, joined Rebecca. The National Adaptation Forum, hosted by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, gathers adaptation practitioners from around the country to foster knowledge exchange, innovation, and mutual support for a better tomorrow in face of climate extremes.
Contact me if you would like to continue reading about HRWC Staff appearances like the ones mentioned in this blog.
What better way to kick-off the paddling season than by celebrating the newest improvement on the Huron River Water Trail?
Our small, yet enthusiastic group gathered on the first warm sunny Friday in April to greet the spring weather and toast the innovative boat slide at Barton Dam. Our partners on the Water Trail have long wished for an easier way to navigate this portage, especially after a tiring trip across the flat waters of Barton Pond. We all imagined that there must be an easier way to get boats down the long, steep slope of the dam. However, no examples could be found.
HRWC collaborated with the design team at SmithGroupJJR to develop the first-of-its-kind boat slide, a stainless steel railing that makes portaging a canoe or kayak across the dam as easy as lifting it up on the rail and gliding it up or down the dam. Water Trail signage was added at the downstream access, as well, as part of the larger trail marking effort over 104 river miles.
The Post family, who supported the project, were on-hand to help demonstrate how easy it is to use the slide to navigate over the dam. Thanks to their generosity, we now have a model that can be used at other portages on the Huron River Water Trail and other rivers across the state. Cheers to supporters of RiverUp! and users of the Water Trail!
Here’s to a safe paddling season.
~ Andrea Kline, Construction Manager
Take a look at another short film released by the Huron River Watershed Council — one of a series that share stories of the renaissance happening along the Huron!
“Paddling the Huron River Water Trail” showcases this recently designated National Water Trail along its 104 miles of prime paddling for canoes, kayaks, and stand-up boards. The film features stunning aerial and underwater footage and focuses on three adventures: a solo canoe trip in the pristine Proud Lake area to the north; a group paddle trip in the dynamic Hudson Mills section; and a father and son kayak trip near Flat Rock and into Great Lake Erie.
Paddling enthusiasts can plan their own adventures with the newly released Second Edition Paddler’s Companion, a waterproof map flip book of the entire Huron River Water Trail or use the trail’s online interactive maps to plan a trip or explore.
RiverUp! is a strategy to realize the goal of a vibrant, robust, and restored river as a destination for residents, visitors, and businesses. 7 Cylinders Studio of Ann Arbor worked with HRWC over the fall and winter months producing “Paddling the Huron River Water Trail” to share the vision of RiverUp!, a plan for the Huron River’s future. Additional films in the RiverUp! Stories feature two of the Water Trail’s five Trail Towns, sharing fly fishing with local expert Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti and the transformation of Dexter’s waterfront.
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.
You can also purchase it through our Southeast Michigan Retail Partners.
Uncork the champagne! The Huron River Water Trail is the newest National Water Trail.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell designated the Huron River Water Trail as the 18th trail of the National Water Trails System this week. The Huron River Water Trail joins a network of national exemplary water trails from Puget Sound to the Hudson River. The National Water Trails System is an inter-agency collaborative effort administrated by the National Park Service.
In the press release issued by the National Parks Service, Secretary Jewell recognized the achievements of local, state, and federal partners in the ever-growing water trail community. ”Expanding water trails nationwide improves the environment and adds value to local economies”, said Secretary Jewell. “The National Water Trail System helps people discover the natural beauty and history of local places and provides fun opportunities for families to explore the world around them.”
The Huron River Water Trail will reap many benefits of designation into the National Water Trails System including:
* national promotion and visibility
* mutual support and knowledge sharing as part of a national network
* opportunities to obtain technical assistance and funding for planning and implementing water trail projects
As a result of designation, the partners to the Water Trail may gain positive economic impact from increased tourism, assistance with stewardship and sustainability projects, assistance with recognition and special events highlighting the trail, and more.
To be considered for designation, HRWC completed a rigorous application to demonstrate that the trail met criteria in seven management practice areas. The application was reviewed at multiple levels including a federal inter-agency panel review and final review by Secretary Jewell.
The Huron River Water Trail is a 104-mile inland paddling trail connecting people to the river’s natural environment, its history, and the communities it touches in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It is a consortium of interested groups and communities committed to providing residents and visitors with a safe, accessible, and enjoyable experience on the Huron River and in the Trail Towns. The Huron River Water Trail is a project of the Huron River Watershed Council and RiverUp!.
The Making of Mill Creek Park in Dexter.
A look at the second of three short films produced by the Huron River Watershed Council . . .
“The Making of Mill Creek Park” features the restoration of Mill Creek and the dam removal in Dexter that transformed it from a stagnant pond into a free-flowing stream. Community leaders like Paul Cousins and Allison Bishop, Jolly Pumpkin’s Ron Jeffries, and a local family share the story of a revitalized waterfront that helps makes the Dexter community a great place to live, work and play.
7 Cylinders Studio of Ann Arbor worked with HRWC over the summer producing “The Making of Mill Creek Park” to share the vision of RiverUp!, a plan for the Huron River’s future. RiverUp! is a strategy to realize the goal of a vibrant, robust, and restored river as a destination for residents, visitors, and businesses. Other films in the RiverUp! series include the story of fly fishing in Ypsilanti and the creation of the Huron River Water Trail.
HRWC leads RiverUp! in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and the Wolfpack, a group of 75 business and community leaders and organizations.
There’s more good news for kayakers and canoeists on the Huron! In late November, we installed a one-of-a-kind canoe and kayak slide on the steep portage route at Barton Dam in Ann Arbor. The unique design allows a paddler to guide a boat up or down depending on the direction of the trip and eliminates the need for trudging on the hill with a boat overhead. This project is just the latest to come out of the public/private placemaking initiative led by HRWC called RiverUp!. RiverUp! Construction Manager, Andrea Kline, guest blogs on the most recent Huron River Water Trail project:
I confess, at first I was skeptical. I’ve slogged hundreds of pounds of gear across dozens of portages from Ontario to Maine but I have never seen, much less used, a canoe slide. But here I was at the Barton Dam, canoe slide plans in hand, ready to start a new adventure on the Huron River Water Trail.
The design of the slide was somewhat challenging since the rails would have to bend both horizontally and vertically to match the curves of the dam face and the trail next to the slide. All of the steel pieces had to be manufactured off-site. Hopefully, it would all fit together once the pieces arrived on-site.
Step 1: Install the bases. Since we were not allowed to dig deep foundations into the embankment and the bases had to line up exactly to accommodate the curves of the slide, our crew laid stone pads, about three feet square, at the locations that the surveyors had staked the week before. Once the stone pads were in place, the 13 concrete bases, each weighing over 300 pounds, were set carefully in place.
Step 2: Secure the steel slide rails to each of the bases. The moment of truth had arrived. Would the rails fit together like we had envisioned when putting the design on paper? The rails were fabricated in 14 pieces, each labeled to be installed in a particular location. Piece by piece, the railing was installed. The slide was taking shape, and I was getting excited about how it was looking. The dog walkers and joggers who looked at us skeptically at the beginning of the project now nodded in recognition when we explained what we were building and how it would work.
Step 3: Test the slide. We carried the canoe up the hill and placed it on the slide. It slid easily down the rails with a little prompting. Cameras and phones at the ready, we all took turns sliding the canoe down and back up the slide. High fives all around – it works!
The slide is now ready for paddlers to use in navigating around Barton Dam. Give it a try and let us know what you think! We are eager to share the design with other water trail organizations and are hopeful that this might be a prototype for other portages in our watershed and around the country.
Thank you to the Jeffrey and Joanna Post Family for their financial support and to our talented and dedicated project team: SmithGroupJJR for the design and Future Fence Company of Warren for the fabrication and installation.
Andrea Kline, RiverUp! Construction Manager, is the author of today’s post about Ypsilanti’s Peninsular Park and the recent investments in its amenities for paddlers and residents in the neighborhood.
Fall is shaping up to be a busy time on the Huron River Water Trail! After lots of
collaborating with our partners, planning, permitting and paperwork, we finally celebrated the opening of the new floating dock at Peninsular Park in Ypsilanti. The new dock replaces an older dock on the upstream side of the portage around the Peninsular Dam that had seen better days. Huron River Water Trail signage was installed, as well.
The ribbon cutting was attended by 40 people, including many representatives of the five Huron River Trail Towns who attended a meeting earlier in the day to share their efforts to promote the exciting experiences that await river users who visit Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Flat Rock. Several participants shared their memories of college rituals from their days at EMU that included jumping into the river from the original dock, usually under the cover of darkness!
The Peninsular Paper Mill and Dam were originally built in the 1860s, reportedly
to produce newsprint for the Chicago Tribune and the dam to power it. In 1986, the dam and 6.5 acres on the north side of the river were sold to Ypsilanti for $1. This area is now managed by the City of Ypsilanti as Peninsular Park.
If you have ever driven on North Huron River Drive near the campus of EMU, you may remember seeing the landmark Peninsular Paper Co. sign that still stands at the top of the old power house. Although it has been abandoned for some time, the powerhouse still retains some of the beautiful classical architectural features that made it a city landmark in its heyday.
Local residents and neighbors have formed The Friends of Peninsular Park to lead efforts to restore the park to its former glory. Updates and news are shared on the group’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PeninsularPark. We’re glad that the new floating dock can bring back old memories and will contribute to memories of more “good old days” in the future!
Thank you to our RiverUp! funders, especially the Austin Memorial Foundation, for investing in this section of the Huron River.
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.