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News to Us

Adult Emerald Ash Borer. Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Adult Emerald Ash Borer. Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Today’s News to Us shares an article on how the winter impacted Emerald Ash Borer populations in the area.  Also read two articles on the status of a couple of developments on Huron riverfront properties- Milford has a new brewery and Ypsilanti struggles to fill Water Street.  Finally, Washtenaw County has a new reporting service for flood and drainage issues.

After the Trees Disappear: Ash Forests After Emerald Ash Borers Destroy Them  The cold weather did nothing to deter the Emerald Ash Borer’s march through the northern Midwest and east coast. The insect is decimating ash tree populations with implication far exceeding the loss of landscape and street trees. This article shares the status of the invasion and potential consequences for forests in our area.

Water Street property falls short of initial expectations  Debate about the fate of Ypsilanti’s Water Street property continues. There are high hopes for this riverfront property to provide river and open space recreation activities along with benefits for downtown businesses and residents. But interest in the property from investors has been sparse. Read about the latest discussions in this article.

New River’s Edge Brewery now open in downtown Milford  A new brewery has opened in the watershed.  River’s Edge in Milford will bring brews to the river front.  Stop by and welcome our new neighbor, either in car or kayak!

Residents can now report flooding, drainage problems to county using online form  Washtenaw County residents can now submit reports of flooding and drainage issues online.  Photos can be uploaded too, to help identify the problem.  This is a new feature.  Residents can still report issues on email or by phone.  Emergency issues should still be reported using 911.

Progress on Climate Change

On June 2, the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.

The proposal would

  • cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
  • Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits (in Michigan, our nine oldest power plants cost Michigan families $1.5 billion each year in healthcare costs); and
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system. Recent reports for Michigan show that renewable power is 26 percent cheaper than comparable coal-fired electricity, while Michigan customers save $3.83 for every dollar invested in energy efficiency programs.

States have until 2030 to reach the goal, and will be allowed to use a variety of strategies to reach the goal.  This flexibility will allow states to reach the goal with a minimum of disruption to their economies.  In fact, many studies predict that the rules will spur markets in alternative energy and energy consumption, creating jobs and resulting in cheaper electricity bills.

EPA published the proposed rule today (June 18) in the Federal Register and will take comments for the next 120 days (up until October 16).  EPA will finalize the standards next June.  Please add your voice and let EPA know you support the new rule.  You can use the suggested text below (from the Natural Resources Defense Council) or write your own, and submit to the EPA.

“Comment on existing source pollution standard [Docket: EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602]

“Dear Environmental Protection Agency,

“Thank you for proposing this standard to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. Without these standards in place, polluters will continue to dump an unlimited amount of carbon pollution into our air.

“This is a critical part of President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution coming from power plants each year. With these limits we can avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.

“Carbon pollution fuels climate change, drives extreme weather, threatens communities and cuts too many lives short. I urge you to stand strong against their pressure and adopt this critical new standard (Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602).”

Join HRWC and celebrate the summer solstice!

There is still room available on our next paddle trip; don’t miss an opportunity to experience the quiet waters of the Huron River with expert paddlers Ron Sell, Barry Lonik, and the HRWC staff. Our summer solstice paddle includes discussion regarding the river’s water ecology, history, and unique features. Shuttle transportation is provided. Bring your own watercraft, gear, food, drinking water and appropriate clothing for the weather. Every paddler must wear a flotation device – bring your own!

Gallup_Park_-_Huron_River_1

For a Paddler’s Safety Checklist click HERE.

  • Saturday, June 21
    Summer Solstice Paddle
    Island Park to Peninsular Dam*

*Exact location of each put-in will be sent to participants upon registration.

Registration is required and available HERE.

More information and how to register for all of our summer recreation events HERE.

Fly fishing lesson’s foster a summer of fun!

FFL Kids

This past Sunday HRWC held our annual Fly Fishing Lessons; thanks to our instructor, Mike Mouradian of Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited, along with the help of experienced instructors from AATU, and Dirk Fischbach, of Bailiwicks Outdoors in Dexter. This year’s lessons were held at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor and we couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions. During each of the lesson’s instructors explained casting, knot tying, fly identification, and the entomology of fly fishing. The lessons were comprised of informative lectures, as well as, hand’s on activities where the participant’s hone their newly learned skills.

A very special thanks to all of the participants, and to the dedicated instructors for contributing their time and knowledge so that participants could understand the essentials to foster a summer of fun!

Fly

Upcoming recreation events:

Birding, Saturday, June 7, 7:30 AM, Gallup Park Canoe Livery Boat Launch

Paddle Trip, Saturday, June 21, 4 PM, Island Park to Peninsular Dam

 

More information and how to register for all of our summer recreation events HERE

Livingston County Compost Bin & Rain Barrel Sale

Order by Monday, June 9th.

Livingston RB SaleAvailable items are the “FreeGarden 55-gallon Rain Barrel” for $55 ($150 value), the “FreeGarden Compost Bin” $45 ($100 value), compost pails, aerators, and thermometers. Details and ordering information HERE.

This is a Pre-order sale only.

The PICK UP DAY for all pre-ordered units is Saturday June 14, 2014, 9am-3pm at the Livingston County East Complex parking lot located at 2300 E. Grand River Ave in Howell.

This is your opportunity to purchase high quality products while taking advantage of high volume pricing. Hosted by the the Livingston County Solid Waste Program, this sale is made possible through the Livingston County Drain Commissioner, Brian Jonckheere, and the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. Further information is available at www.livgov.com/dpw or by calling the Solid Waste Program at 517-545-9609 during normal business hours or by e-mail at solidwaste@livgov.com.

 Details and ordering information HERE.

Being a Creekwalker (Part 2)

The adventure continues!

You can read Mark Schaller’s first post here about his experiences with HRWC’s Creekwalking Program.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at jfrenzel@hrwc.org to volunteer.

____________________________________________________

Guest Author: Mark Schaller

Now that the initial visit and thermometer placement was out of the way it was time to schedule the second visit. Like our previous trip, real life issues came up for most of the team, and Erin and myself continued our team of two.

Mosquitos can be bad during a creekwalk, depending on the location and weather. Long pants and long sleeves may be a good idea! Right, Erin?

Mosquitos can be bad during a creekwalk, depending on the location and weather. Long pants and long sleeves may be a good idea! Right, Erin?

We decided that Erin would handle the writing duties while I took the reading and pictures. This time around we were supposed to check for signs of wildlife and pick up any garbage. After her last losing battle with mosquitoes Erin came prepared this time. Long sleeve shirts and real insect repellent were in order. She even sprayed me down to try to keep the bugs at bay. It didn’t work.

Woods Creek was pretty much in the same state as the last time we were here. We entered at the first bridge and got to work. We took a few temperature and water conductivity readings and not much had changed. Since I didn’t have to concentrate on the readings, I spent more time checking out what signs of life there were. Erin is more of an herbologist than I am so she kept track of the plant life. She was rattling off plant names and I just took her word for it. I’m not a vegetarian.

Like last time I spotted some smaller bait fish but couldn’t get a good enough look at them to see what they were. When we got to the water thermometers I saw some larger fish hiding underneath the stump but again I couldn’t get a good look to see what they were. What I did see were a lot of crayfish. These guys I was very interested in. I wanted to know if they were native crayfish or the non-native rusty variety.  For the rest of the walk I tried to catch one and for most of the walk my efforts were pretty futile. Just as I was about to grab one it would take off and disappear in the silt. Even with my advance warning system screaming every time one ran across her foot, I still couldn’t corner one long enough to grab it.

Mark had a good time catching and identifying crayfish on his creekwalk.

Mark had a good time catching and identifying crayfish on his creekwalk.

Eventually I caught one and it wasn’t a Rusty. So far so good. I was able to catch a couple more and they were all native crayfish as well. I don’t know what kind exactly, but they weren’t Rusty crayfish. I’m sure the Rusty’s will eventually work their way into this creek but for now no sign of them.

One of the other things we had to do during this trip was pick up garbage. I’m glad to say that there wasn’t much. I expected to find plastic worm containers, fish line, and empty cans. All I really found was some pieces of broken glass and an old shirt.  Nice to see that there wasn’t much trash!

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Stayed tuned for the third and final part of Mark’s creekwalking experience.

Make A Stormdrain Mural at the Mayor’s Green Fair

Inspire River Protection With Art! Stormdrain Art at 2013 Green Fair

Come decorate the curbside connections to the Huron River! Ann Arbor artist David Zinn and Karim Motawi will lead the crowd in chalking four of our downtown stormdrain inlets into works of art. We provide the chalk, you bring the creativity!

When: Friday, June 13, 2014, 6-8pm

Where: The Ann Arbor Mayor’s Green Fair, at the Liberty and Main intersection and the Huron River Watershed Council booth in front of the Melting Pot.

Presented by HRWC in partnership with the 14th Annual Mayor’s Green Fair and the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission.

Stormdrain Art at 2013 Green FairWe depend on stormdrains to keep our streets from flooding during storms. Yet, these devices also direct litter and polluted rainwater straight into the Huron River. We’ll show and tell the stormdrain connection and recruit families to adopt their neighborhood stormdrains, keeping them for rain only by removing litter, leaves and other debris in the spring, summer, and fall months.

Can’t make it to the Green Fair? Do your part by Adopting A Stormdrain in your neighborhood . . . learn more about it HERE.

 

Birding and paddling on Bruin Lake

This past weekend we held our first Birding event, as well as, our first Paddle trip of the summer. We were delighted to have Dea Armtrong, Ann Arbor Ornithologist, at both of the events. Dea was able to offer insight through her expertise of the birds in our watershed during the Birding event and the paddle trip. Thanks to all of our participants in both events, Dea, and Huron River guides Ron Sell and Barry Lonik.

Friday, the Birding participants met at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. Dea led our walk throughout the park and guided participants to look and listen for local migratory birds. The range of Birding experience among participants varied from first timers, to seasoned veterans. Nearly sixty birders used their eyes and ears to spot a variety of different birds.

Saturday, we traveled to Bruin Lake Campground in Gregory, MI. Our trip was led by Huron River guides Ron Sell and Barry Lonik. Dea joined us as well; she helped point out and identify many of the birds we would encounter on our trip. After 3.5 hours paddling her bird count totaled 47 species! You can view her bird count HERE.

kay

Upcoming Recreation Events:

  • Birding
    Saturday, June 7
    Gallup Park, Ann Arbor, MI

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Visit our Facebook for more photo’s of this weekends events HERE.

Visit our Summer Recreation page for information on all events HERE.

Being a Creekwalker (Part 1)

 Scout and Walk a River

This past summer, several teams of volunteers participated in a new program: Creekwalking!

Mark Schaller was one of those volunteers, and he wrote about being a Creekwalker for the Downriver Walleye Federation newsletter, the fishing organization that he belongs to.  Mark has given HRWC his permission for us to reproduce his adventures here on our blog.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at jfrenzel@hrwc.org to volunteer.

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Mark Schaller tests the water in Woods Creek.

Mark tests the water in Woods Creek.

Guest Author: Mark Schaller

Several months back I received an email from the Huron River Watershed Council. They were looking for volunteers for a new program they were starting up, Creek Walking. The council members are trying to collect data on the hundreds of miles of creeks and tributaries that feed into the Huron River. Since funds are tights for this kinds of field work they need volunteers. I volunteered!

I had to attend a training meeting to find out what this was about. I was going to be part of a 5 person team that was assigned to Woods Creek. This little stream is located in Lower Huron Metro Park. My team and I would be making visits throughout the summer to take readings, pictures, clean up garbage and record any observations concerning wildlife or any aquatic critters. Seems simple, right? Oh, was I in for a surprise.

I was worried about the water levels at this time as the prior weekend the levels were about 4 feet above normal and made wading the stream hazardrous.  I stopped by two days prior to our field day and the water had dropped some. My fingers were crossed that a few more days and no rain would finally allow the team to do the initial testing.

On our field day, myself and another teammate, Erin, were the only ones who were able to make it.  The two of us packed up the gear and headed to the stream. The water level was back down to normal so we waded in. After one step I remembered that I never fixed the leak in my hip boots. Erin just waded in with what she was wearing. She soon found out that the all natural insect repellant that she was wearing didn’t do a thing for her. They attacked her in swarms. For some strange reason they left me alone, not that I was complaining.

Woods Creek in July! Looks nice, doesn't it?

Woods Creek in July! Looks nice, doesn’t it?

Part of our work was to take temperature and water conductivity readings. The meter that HRWC gave us takes both temperature and measures the ions in the stream.  Anything under a reading of 800 microsiemens meant that the water was clean and healthy. We had to take a reading every 30 feet and make it with GPS coordinates as well.All of our readings were around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and a conductivity of around 800. All seemed good. The stream itself had a gravel bottom the whole length we checked. A good sign for all those Steelheaders out there. A staff member of HRWC told me that they have had reports of steelhead fingerlings this far up the Huron so this may be a viable spawning area for them.

Another part of our job was to take pictures of the surrounding vegetation and make notes of any aquatic or land based wildlife. We didn’t see any critters but did see lots of baitfish in the stream. As far as insects go, there were a lot of damselflies and of course about a gazillion mosquitoes. Because of this and the total failure of Erin’s repellant we hurried through our sampling and got off the stream in a hurry. She was was a little annoyed that I never got bit. Sometimes it’s good to be me.  She was a good sport about it though and offered to enter all our data into the spreadsheet we were given. I volunteered to go through the pictures and the file names and GPS coordinates to the datasheet.

Mission Accomplished! Our task for another day was to walk upstream in Woods Creek and continue the process.

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Stayed tuned for part 2 of Mark’s creekwalking experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Change: More Bad News, but Some Hope, Too

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the third of four reports that make up it’s Fifth Assessment Report on climate change, and the news is predictably dire, but includes a surprising ray of hope.

As the New York Times reported on March 31, the first two reports address the science and impacts of climate change.  Their conclusions include that the ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

These impacts will likely cause starvation, increases in poverty, and violent conflicts over water and food resources throughout the world. HRWC’s special issue on Climate Change describes probable impacts on our own Huron River watershed.  These impacts include shifts in fish and other species that live in the watershed, increased intensity of storms, and snowfall decreases.

The third report (as reported in the New York Times) gives the world 15 years to significantly reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and switch to alternative sources of energy.  If reductions do not occur by then, it will be nearly impossible to stabilize the climate.

The reports do provide a ray of hope.  The world is becoming more aware of the problem, and many governments and businesses are beginning to devise plans to adapt to coming changes. HRWC is working with communities, utilities, and scientists here in the watershed to develop strategies to increase our resilience to climate change.

But adapting to the changing climate will become nearly impossible if we don’t act to stem the continuing tide of greenhouse gas emissions.

What can you do?

Check out HRWC’s Saving Water Saves Energy page to find tips for your own energy and water use.

Encourage your state and federal Representatives and Senators to support climate change legislation, be it by requiring emission limits on power plants and cars, setting a price on carbon and other emissions to allow the free market to reduce climate change, or providing incentives for alternative energies.

And be sure to vote whenever you can, for candidates who acknowledge climate change and pledge to for climate change reduction policies!

 


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