Archive for the ‘Study Nature’ Category
My Pinckney-Ann Arbor commute along Huron River Drive to work at HRWC has been a little waterlogged lately, but it has been nice to see some signs of spring. One harbinger of spring is higher water flow in the Huron River, and this week you need a canoe to sit on the riverbank benches at Delhi. The rapids there are really roaring!
I stopped at Barton Dam, where the water flow was crazy and this big foam glob was creeping across the pathway.
Further downstream, rafts of foam bumped against the riverbanks. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this wasn’t because someone dumped 50 gallons of Tide into Barton Pond.
Luckily, I work at the Huron River Watershed Council! And, we had a newsletter article back in 2005, cleverly titled “What IS that?,” which addressed this very question. Organic compounds released by decomposing plants and animals lessen the surface tension of the water. When lots of oxygen is introduced – from water flowing over a waterfall, or wave action, or dams – foam can form. On a warmer day, I might have scooped up a handful for closer inspection. It would have smelled slightly of decaying plants and probably dead fish.
A few more photos of my drive this morning are below. If you want more information on some of the odd water conditions you might be seeing and what they mean, check out this article from our 2005 Huron River Report
Your View of the Huron River
HRWC is hosting two Photography Workshops in 2013, May 11-12 & October 19-20. Local professional photographers Michael Seabrook and Marc Akemann will lead the classes. Each workshop, in May & October, will consist of 2 half-day classes. We encourage you to register for both workshops to get the full benefit of what Marc and Mike will be teaching. Come prepared to get hands-on experience in the field, and learn basic techniques for taking great nature photos—obtaining correct exposures, controlling the depth-of-field, making sharper photos, customizing your camera to do what you want it to, and more. All skill levels are welcome.
Special guest speaker: world-renowned photographer and local Ann Arbor resident, Howard Bond will be speaking at both workshops. Maximum registration for both classes is 20 participants.
What to Bring: A camera that allows you to manually set the shutter speed and aperture. All participants will receive a Huron Camera coupon good for 10% off camera bags, memory cards and filters. One time use only but you can purchase multiple items.
Visit HERE to find out more, and see examples of Marc and Mike’s work and to register for the classes.
Photography Workshop Schedule: May 11-12 & October 19-20
2-3:45PM – New Center* – Introductions, class time, Q&A, Howard Bond.
4-6PM – Shooting time in the field (along the Huron somewhere…TBD).
8-9:45AM – Shooting time at Delhi Metropark (tentatively)
10AM-12PM – New Center* – Work on an image or two/project images, Howard Bond.
*New Center is at 1100 N Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Volunteer Vernal Pool Training
Help the Michigan DNR inventory Southeast Michigan’s Vernal Pools!
WHEN: Saturday, March 16, 10 am – 2:30pm (Alternate date if bad weather: March 30)
WHERE: Proud Lake Recreation Area
River Hawk Annex – Meeting Room
3500 Wixom Road, Commerce Township, MI 48382, (248) 685-2433
- Learn about vernal pools and why they are so important
- Become trained to identify, map and collect data on vernal pools
- Learn to identify frogs, salamanders and invertebrates
- Contribute to the state-wide vernal pools database
- This training involves hands-on practice outdoors so please come prepared for weather and mud (boots and rain gear)
- Bring a sack lunch. We will provide water and snacks!
- Volunteers interested in visiting one or more “potential vernal pools” in southeast MI in the following areas:
- Highland Recreation Area – Oakland Co.
- Proud Lake Recreation Area – Oakland Co.
- Pinckney Recreation Area – Livingston and Washtenaw Co.
- Waterloo Recreation Area – Washtenaw County
- Volunteers who can commit to visit one or more “potential vernal pools” at least 2-3 times during spring and summer
- No previous experience required
REGISTER: Please register by March 12th, No cost, but registration is limited to 30 people.
Contact Daria Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-373-4815
Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Parks Stewardship Program
Funding provided by: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality,
with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency
The Huron: Rivers of Michigan Series
By Kit Lane
Reviewed by Grace Shackman
Kit Lane has saved Huron River enthusiasts a great deal of time by collecting all the facts she can about our river. The Saugatuck-based author has written more than twenty books on Michigan history including one on John Allen, Ann Arbor’s co-founder, and four on other rivers in the state.
The book starts with an explanation of how the Huron was formed, followed by pre-settlement travelers’ accounts and information on early river communities. Lane explains why dams were built and discusses the issue of removal. Her chapter on environmental concerns goes into detail on the founding and work of the Huron River Watershed Council.
Lane includes specific information helpful to river users such as boating conditions, variety of rapids, parks, and trails. The second half of the book is devoted to a trip down the Huron listing all the public places where people can stop.
In the course of the book Lane answers several questions I’ve always wondered about. One is whether LaSalle really did use the Huron River when he took a trip across the state in 1680. Lane thinks he did and using a translation of his journal identifies where he stopped. Another is why the river wasn’t used by early settlers to move their supplies. The answer is it was too shallow after Rawsonville and the rock bottom didn’t allow deepening. One criticism, in two places she says that Ann Arbor was founded in 1823, when it was 1824, a fact she does get right in her book about John Allen.
Grace Shackman writes history articles for several local publications as well as teaching Washtenaw history and architecture at Washtenaw Community College.
The Huron: Rivers of Michigan Series, is 168 pages, with black and white maps, old postcard views, newly shot photographs, and a full index with bibliography. It retails for $18.50 and is available for purchase locally at the West Side Book Shop, 113 West Liberty, Ann Arbor.
HRWC would like to thank author Kit Lane for sharing her book with us and Grace Shackman for writing this review.
- A beautiful Huron River, where it crosses Zeeb Road. credit: John Lloyd
- Dave Wilson samples Woods Creek! credit: Nate Antieau
- Digging through the muck of Port Creek. credit: Mark Schaller
- A quick break for the camera! credit: John Lloyd
- "Do you see anything?" credit: John Lloyd
Bring on the “brrr!”
On January 26, 110 intrepid volunteers faced the harsh winter elements and spread across the Huron River watershed in search of stoneflies, which are only found in clean and healthy streams. Everyone made it back safe, which is the number one priority, and it seemed that a good time was had by all.
In 2012 the Stonefly Search volunteers had to deal with melting snow and flood conditions, but this year we had a deep freeze in the week preceeding the Search, and most of the teams had to break their way through the ice in order to sample the stream macroinvertebrates. Despite this challenging problem, stoneflies were found in great abundance at many locations. The results are in, and are given in this pdf report.
1. The status quo is being maintained for most of the sampling sites. Sites that have had stoneflies in the past are still able to support them, and sites that were not healthy enough to hold stoneflies still do not have them. That being said, we did see a few changes this year which are detailed below.
2. Four sites had the best stonefly samples that had ever been seen at those locations: Chilson Creek at Chilson Road, Fleming Creek at Galpin Road, the Huron River at Flat Rock, and Woodruff Creek at Buno Road. At each of these sites, the stoneflies normally found at the location were there, but also new stonefly families were found that had never been seen there before! A greater diversity of stoneflies indicates greater stream health. These are promising results and hopefully it will continue into longer term trends.
3. The team searching for stoneflies in Woods Creek in Belleville came back disappointed. Wood’s Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark has been sampled 12 times since 1997, and this is the first time that stoneflies could not be found. The problem likely comes from the thick ice and difficult conditions rather than pollution or disturbed stream habitat, but we will keep an eye on Wood’s Creek next year.
4. Traver Creek is a stream in north Ann Arbor that has typical urban stream problems- in particular, flashy flows and runoff, oil, and sediment from roads. In the past couple of years, part of the train track berm washed out and released a large plume of sediment to Traver Creek. However, we were pleased that both of the sites sampled on Traver Creek this year turned up stoneflies. The sites were both upstream and downstream of the wash-out.
Next on the horizon!
Interested in doing more with our macroinvertebrate searches? Think about becoming a trained leader or collector by coming to the next training on March 24. This is an extremely important job because every team needs both a trained leader and collector, and we often do not have enough to meet the demand. Sign up for the training!
Saturday turned out to be a lovely day for HRWC’s Stonefly Search. 110 volunteers returned safely from the field after successfully accomplishing their mission. These hardy souls endured the snow, enjoyed the sun (briefly), had fun breaking through the ice, and learned about the Huron and the critters who live here. Interesting finds included a slumbering frog, mute swans, and Canada geese (not to mention lots and lots of insects). Look for a detailed report from Paul Steen regarding the Stonefly results. Until then, here is a bit of verse to paint a picture of how the day went for many…
Winter Stoneflies in Arctic Michigan
By Dave Wilson
We don our coats and boots, go forth to break the ice
In frigid, frosty weather that no one could say is nice
We flounder through the streams in search of a great prize
Taeniopterids and Capniids, precious winter stone flies
Winter stones are quite the thing
Though one surely might be wondering
How these tiny creatures could ever be so bold
As to live and thrive in this bitter winter cold
Paul tells us that in winter these critters really thrive
Cold water holds the oxygen to keep them all alive
And winter is helpful in another major way
The cold keeps fierce predators so very far away
Quite sensitive to any water pollution,
Winter stones provide a quick solution
If we find ‘em we can be sure
That the stream is sweet and pure
The critters are small and rather dark
In this frigid weather they have a lark
Scamper about in the ice and snow
There’s no other place for them to go
To ID them here’s what you do
Look for wingpads four and cerci two
Along the flanks no gills are found
And on each leg two claws astound
The ice is thick, the water chills,
With cold I’m fed up to the gills
But none could say that we are quitters
We’ll search ‘til we find those little critters
Believe me, I know whereof I speak
You’ll find out fast if your waders leak
One hears screams of pain from the bravest jocks
When that icy water hits their socks
Collectors and runners can stay in motion
Stay warmer thus, I have a notion
But picking requires that one stand still
Can be quite bleak, cause many a chill
Don’t go on ice unless waders you wear
If you’re not wearing waders your weight it won’t bear
If you should venture this dumb thing to do
I guarantee you’ll surely break through
Let me warn you right now; listen up and take heed
Bring twice the wraps you think that you’ll need
That usually turns out to be about right
So that you are not left in a piteous plight
A jug of warm water is always quite pleasing
Helps to keep that D-net from freezing
And stout rubber gloves keep collectors’ hands dry
Help a great deal when frostbite is nigh
On these trips a truly most gracious amenity
May help the participants keep some of their sanity
A big jug of cocoa sure hits the spot
Beloved by all if it’s nice and hot.
The HRWC Auction Team has been hard at work, compiling our largest collection of fabulous items for your bidding pleasure! This year we have over 40 items listed online at BiddingForGood and all proceeds benefit HRWC’s efforts to restore and protect the watershed.
Bids on the River is online now until November 26 and is the perfect shopping opportunity for the holidays or any occasion.
Here are our team members’ picks:
Rebecca: I wish my kids were little again, because I would be all over the “Fun With Bugs” workshop being offered by our very own Paul Steen. Actually, this would be great for not-so-little kids and anglers too. Learn all about the bugs in our watershed and why they are critical to the local ecosytem. Got someone with entomological tendencies? Coolest. Gift. Ever.
Margaret: It’s a toss up between Unadilla Boatworks’ “Build A Boat” workshop and Schultz’s Outfitters Fly Fishing Lessons (4 on offer!). I think both are great experiences directly connected to recreation on our river. Ron Sell and Mike Schultz support HRWC efforts in raising awareness of responsible use of our water resources while enjoying the recreational opportunities offered in the watershed.
Meg: How do I choose? I want to bid on them all! But, if you’re going to force me to pick one…I think I’ll have to go with Jolly Pumpkin & Melissa Ferrick Package. I can almost never pass up the food and beer at Jolly. And while I can’t say I’m a hardcore Melissa Ferrick fan, per se (I just listened to her music for the first time today), I am a lover of good music and I know that good times are always had at The Ark. Good food, good beer AND good times. How can anyone pass that up?
New items added since the auction opened include a rain barrel from Downtown Home & Garden, a rap workshop from Rap For Food, a “Bucket of Balm” from North Wind Naturals and a Bake Class from Zingerman’s!
The auction closes on November 26, so start your bidding soon and check check back often. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to purchase a beautiful gift for yourself or a special someone and support HRWC with just a couple of clicks!
Through the summer of 2012 Dave Wilson, Lee Burton, Janet Kahan, and Alison and Graham Battersby worked tirelessly to improve our education programming materials and lessons.
This autumn’s educator training saw a huge increase in our volunteer capacity. These new volunteers quickly jumped in, shadowing and leading alongside our wonderful existing volunteers.
Events at numerous schools in Ann Arbor, as well as Pinckney, had area students learning through hands-on activities about stream speed, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, erosion,
habitats, and – of course – benthic macroinvertebrates.
With lots of new volunteers, we’re now welcoming a few new schools into our programming. If your middle school or high school science class is interested, please let Jason Frenzel know, email@example.com.
As always, a big thanks to TOYOTA for their support of this program.
Participants of the Nature Adventure Summer Day Camp at the Leslie Science & Nature Center had the opportunity to see what water quality is all about up-close and personal. The camp, which runs weekly throughout the summer, gives kids the opportunity to have some fun in the sun while bringing about an educational experience with science and wildlife. HRWC partners with the Leslie Science & Nature Center by providing an interactive session on water quality.
Campers from grades 1st through 5th joined HRWC staff and volunteers at Traver Creek to discuss the makeup of the Huron River watershed and why it is such an important resource to protect. Basic water chemistry and monitoring techniques involved with the HRWC’s water quality monitoring program were introduced to campers, including measuring for water temperature, pH, and a variety of nutrients in the water. The HRWC crew brought along insect identification equipment to give the kids a hands-on experience, as well as to bring the day’s discussion full circle.
Campers inspected for the small inhabitants of the nearby stream using magnifying glasses to take a closer look at large rocks, sediment, and water from the creek. Stoneflies and midges were noteworthy among the samples, but for most groups the crayfish was the celebrity of the day. Campers and staff alike enjoyed getting a glimpse of the diverse collection of macroinvertebrate life and the positive signs it shows for Traver Creek.
The future of fish
This past week I had the opportunity to attend a two-day workshop exploring the connections between streams, climate change, and fish populations. The centerpiece of this workshop was a climate change-fish vulnerability model developed by a partnership between the US Geological Survey (USGS), Michigan State University, and state agencies in Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This model makes predictions of how likely stream fish populations are to change under a range of climate change scenarios. The information can be used by water resource managers trying to understanding which fish and which streams are most at risk from climate change.
Nuts and bolts of the fish vulnerability model
Global circulation models (GCMs) are used by climate scientists to make predictions about how the Earth’s climate is going to change in the future. There are a wide variety of GCMs, all based on differing assumptions, and as a result they produce different results in terms of the predicted rates of climate change. Interestingly, all of the models do share some commonalities:
- The Earth is warming
- Winter is going to warm more than the summer
- Winters will be wetter
- The northern US will warm more than the south
- Inland areas will warm more than along coastlines
- Extreme events will be more common
The fish vulnerability model produced by the USGS and its partners uses ten of these differing GCMs and combines their climate predictions with predictions of fish presence and absence. An example is the best way to show how this works. Let’s say a particular stream holds brook trout currently. Due to temperature increases and changes in water flow by 2050, this stream is predicted to have lost the fish under GCMs #1-7. However, under GCMs #8-10, the fish is still expected to remain in the creek. Therefore, 7 out of the 10 climate change scenarios predict that the fish will be eliminated from this creek by the year 2050. The fish’s vulnerability to climate-change is said to be 70% for this particular stream.
The USGS and its partners ran this model across the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota for 14 species of fish (i.e. brook trout, brown trout, mottled sculpin, northern pike, smallmouth bass, common carp, etc). For each fish and on every stream in these states, they have produced a predicted vulnerability for that species- the percentage chance that the fish will disappear in the future.
If the model predicts a fish to be missing from a stream under all 10 of the GCMs, this means that even under lenient climate change scenarios, this fish will disappear and managing this stream for the preservation of the fish is most likely to be a lost cause. The predicted vulnerability of this fish in this stream is 100%.
If the model predicts a fish to be present in a stream under all 10 GCMs, this indicates that this fish is very resilient against climate change, or that the stream is not expected to change much, even under the most severe climate change scenarios. Managers can leave these streams alone; the predicted vulnerability of this fish in this stream is 0%.
However, if the model predicts that under some GCMs the fish will leave, and under other GCMs that the fish will stay, then water resource managers have something to work with. This model result means that the stream may be borderline for the fish in the future, and managers have a chance to keep the fish there if they can work towards making the stream more “climate change resilient”. Management activities should center on promoting rainfall infiltration and groundwater recharge. Activities like building rain gardens, maintaining and expanding our natural areas, and reducing the amount of impervious surface will provide greater opportunity for rain to percolate into the ground rather than running overland to the stream.
Groundwater is the key to climate change resiliency because in the summer when fish populations are most stressed due to high water temperatures and low rainfall, groundwater inputs maintain flow and cooler temperatures. Groundwater temperature is usually the same as the average annual air temperature because of the length of time the water spends underground. Therefore in the summer, groundwater is relatively cold as compared to surface water. Also, groundwater is released consistently to the stream, unlike sporadic rainfall, thus giving constant flow even under drought conditions.
The USGS is in the process of developing a web-based map to display their model results so that the information can be readily used by water resource managers. This web-based map and the model results are not ready for public consumption, but I will post a link from this blog when it is.