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Brunch for Clean Water

Lena to Donate Percent of Brunch Proceeds to Huron River Watershed Council

Event Date: Sunday, April 26, 2015

Join Lena and the Huron River Watershed Council in their vision of a future with clean and plentiful water for people and nature, where citizens like you are effective and courageous champions for the Huron River.

To help celebrate HRWC’s 50th Anniversary, bring your friends and family for Sunday brunch at Lena on April 26. Lena will contribute 15% of the proceeds from brunch to the Huron River Watershed Council. Afterwards, join HRWC at The Ark for Rivering, a celebration of the river and HRWC’s 50th anniversary. Brunch is served from 10am-2pm and the full menu can be viewed online at lena-annarbor.com.

Lena is also partnering with the Huron River Watershed Council to promote membership in HRWC during the month of April. Lena invites you to join them in supporting HRWC’s mission to protect and restore the river for healthy and vibrant communities.

You can include a membership while paying your bill in one simple transaction – just ask your server for details next time you are at Lena.

Located in the landmark building on the corner of S. Main and Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor, Lena features modern food of the Americas, influenced by Latin culture and cuisine. Lena was voted Top 10 Best New Metro Detroit Restaurants of 2012 by The Detroit Free Press.

For more information, please contact Lena, Food of the Americas, 226 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, 734.994.2773 or email lena@mission86.com

Good News on Climate

Another in an irregular blog series about climate change

A sculpture called "We're fryin' out here" at a beach in Sydney. BBC.com

A sculpture called “We’re fryin’ out here” at a beach in Sydney. BBC.com

Don’t let our chilly winter and (so far) spring this year fool you — this was the warmest yet year on record globally, with 14 of the 15 warmest years on record occurring since 1900. In Alaska, organizers had to move the Iditarod sled race 300 miles north to find snow.

But despite concerted effort to deny the problem away by many of our politicians and decision makers, we are seeing a positive trend in climate awareness and alternative energy markets and technology that are turning even former vice president (and climate change icon) Al Gore into somewhat of an optimist, according to a recent New York Times article.  The article lists the soaring investment in wind and solar power, the steep reduction in prices for installing alternative energies for homes, and a recent agreement with China on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as reasons to hope that we can indeed curb the worst effects of climate change.

In addition, recent polls have shown overwhelming support for changing national policies to address climate change.

So, take heart, there is still time to Save the Planet!

 

The River Roundup is April 18!

Kids and adults welcome! Photo by Rick Martin

Kids and adults welcome! Photo by Rick Martin

Find insects, crayfish and other small river creatures as a part of the River Roundup!

Join a small team with your friends and family for a unique activity and (hopefully) some time in gorgeous spring weather! Collect a sample of the bugs and other creatures that live in our streams.  Like canaries in a coal mine, these creatures indicate the health of our creeks and rivers.  In healthy places, the amount of life  in these fresh water systems is amazing! 

All volunteers first meet in Ann Arbor, and then trained volunteer leaders take you to two stream sites, where you help them search through stones, leaves, and sediment.  Only trained volunteers go in the water.  Dress to be in the field for a couple hours.   You must register early to participate.

Children are welcome to attend with an adult.

WHERE: Meet at the HRWC office in Ann Arbor.  Then car pool to two streams in Livingston, Oakland, Wayne and/or Washtenaw Counties.

WHEN: Two times: April 18, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM, or 10:30 AM to 5 PM

DEADLINE: Registration closes on April 15, 2015.

NEXT STEPS: Fill out the registration page for the time and general area that you desire to work in.

1. 9 AM. Washtenaw and Livingston Counties

2. 9 AM. Belleville and Flat Rock

3. 9 AM. Western Washtenaw and Livingston Counties.

4. 9 AM. Oakland County.

5. 10:30 AM. Washtenaw and Livingston Counties. 

MORE INFO: Please email Jason at jfrenzel@hrwc.org.

PHOTOS and STORY: Get a sense of what this event is like from a HRWC volunteer here.

 

 

Rivering at The Ark

Celebrate HRWC’s 50th, Sunday April 26, 1 pmchris good

You just have to be there for this Huron River-inspired, beautifully crafted, and uplifting canon of river songs, poems and images, featuring river lovers and performers: Chris Good, Kate Peterson, Magdalen Fossum, Billy Kirst, Kyle Rhodes and Panoka Walker. Special appearances by Carnegie Hall soloist and UM Professor Evan Chambers, along with The Chenille Sisters‘ exquisite harmonies. WEMU’s news director David Fair will be our emcee for this big, fun, once in a lifetime celebration of HRWC. Expect the unexpected, but we won’t tell you what, because we want to keep some surprises until showtime. You’ll just have to buy a ticket to find out.

Purchase Tickets  Tickets are $15 general admission and $25 reserved seating, doors open 12:30pm

The Chenille Sisters 7/10/06 image #3755Don’t miss this chance to hear Zingerman’s opera diva Robby Griswold, gospel singer Sarah Norat Phillips, and yes, HRWC’s Executive Director, Laura Rubin sing our favorite river songs, including Cry Me a River, and Wade in the Water. Storytellers and poets, John Knott and Keith Taylor, will entertain us with poetry and river stories. So much fun!  Help raise funds for HRWC as we begin to look forward to the next 50 years and a future of clean and plentiful water for people and nature where we can all be champions for a healthy and vibrant Huron River.

Brunch at Lena

Before the show, join us for Sunday Brunch at LENA. Lena is a unique culinary experience, inspired by the foods and traditions of Latin America, and influenced by the flavors and techniques of new world cuisine. Lena is located at 226 S Main St., and we recommend you call for reservations, (734) 994-2773, and  arrive by 11am so you have time to eat and drink before the show. The Ark is less than a block away.   LENA BRUNCH MENU  

Questions: Margaret Smith (734) 769-5123 x 605

Thanks to our Sponsors: Ann Arbor State Bank, LENA and Ann Arbor Area Convention and Vistor’s Bureau

 


Family Volunteering

River Roundup volunteers. Photo by Rick Martin

River Roundup volunteers. Photo by Rick Martin

While it may not seem like it today, HRWC’s field season, and thus many volunteer opportunities, are right around the corner. Our first volunteer training (for our Water Quality program) is on March 21. River Roundup and Bioreserve training are sure signs that spring is imminent.

As many of our volunteers and supporters know, most HRWC programs are family friendly. It’s been a delight seeing many of our youth volunteers grow into thoughtful, giving, young professionals. Numerous studies have linked volunteering to being happier and healthier. So why not get your favorite kid involved in the community, especially HRWC? For some tips, see this Points of Light blog on getting kids into volunteering. To see if your youth is a good fit for one of our programs just ask the program lead!

If you’re interested in HRWC’s volunteer programming in general, Jason would love to hear from you: jfrenzel@hrwc.org.

Support Biodiversity! Tell the DNR what you think

A female osprey brings a fish to her offspring.

A female osprey brings a fish to her offspring.

The Michigan DNR is looking for public input on their Nongame Wildlife Fund.  The fund is used to fund the DNR’s efforts to identify, protect,  manage and restore Michigan’s biological diversity.  It is an important way the DNR can fund projects that help wildlife that do not benefit directly from management of game populations such as deer, trout, or pheasant; management for these species receives direct funding from hunting and fishing licenses.

Participate in the survey and let the DNR know that nongame wildlife are important to your enjoyment of Pure Michigan.

A inspiring excursion to the river in the cold

credit: John Lloyd

credit: John Lloyd

This letter came from my father-in-law yesterday.  I hope it inspires you to get out and enjoy the river and it’s natural beauty even when the weather is bitter.  Bundle up!

Dear Laura,

This morning Bella (a golden retriever) and I walked down to Gallup and the river.  The weather was bitter cold, especially when we faced the wind.  The sun was shining at an angle onto the snow.  The ducks, geese and swan were sitting comfortably on the river where the stream has not yet iced over. All around, the trees, benches, trash barrels and even the grills silently stood out in the snow, wanting to be noticed.  Bella and I saw only one other walker-and she or him only from a distance. Otherwise the entire scene was our own. Time was standing still, it seemed.  As I continued to gaze at this winterscape two words kept rising to the surface of my mind: how magnificent.  As Bella and I approached the end of our walk together, I felt that she and I had been lifted up in a moment of ecstasy and awe. The bracing cold, even the wind chill, had become our friends, inviting us to return soon.

Were I a Robert Frost or Mary Oliver, I would be at this moment writing a poem. Instead, I wrote to this note to thank you and your staff for all you do to make such moments possible.

Love,

Chuck

 

Help us start the year off strong!

85% of our water quality work is funded locally.

During this season of giving, we invite you to make a gift to our Annual Fund for Clean Water to support our water quality monitoring programs. Gifts made by midnight on December 31, 2014 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Upton Foundation. A long-time funder of HRWC’s water quality programs, the Upton Foundation awarded HRWC a matching grant to double the impact of your annual gift.

From the staff at HRWC to your family, thank you for your continued support and Happy New Year!

From the staff at HRWC to your family, thank you for your continued support and Happy New Year!

Please donate to the Annual Fund for Clean Water

The Huron river is the cleanest urban river because of the work we do with your help. Help us protect the river and the clean water that sustains us all.

With gratitude,
Laura Rubin
Executive Director

p.s. If you have already responded with a donation, thank you.

 

News to Us

This edition features an update on recent legislation battling the Asian Carp, while Grand Rapids takes the lead in measuring the impact of its climate change efforts.  How did our water system become so disconnected, and how can we fix it? The Great Lakes Commission is working to answer this question by looking at the water system more holistically. Read about a true Huron River adventure from paddlers who kayaked over a gusty and rainy Halloween weekend.

Legislation Seeks Interim Steps to Stop Asian Carp Representative Dave Camp and Senator Debbie Stabenow join forces to fight the Asian Carp.

What Can Cities Really Do About Climate Change? Over a thousand US cities have agreed to abide by the Kyoto Protocol. The Mayor’s Climate Protection Center has been documenting these efforts, but measuring the impact has been difficult.  Since 2009, Grand Rapids’ sustainability plan has been tracking progress to measure its success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Fractured Water: Can metro Detroit reconnect its watersheds? Our water system has evolved into a system that is fractured and disconnected.  How did rivers become this way and what can be done to return the river to its natural state?

Halloween Storm 2014 on the Huron River Water Trail The Huron River Water Trail “Paddler’s Companion” came in handy for these paddlers who traversed the length of the Huron this fall.  Their trip is inspiring to those who wish to make the 125 mile trek. These guides can be purchased at the HRWC office or online here.

River Roundup Results Reviewed

Macroinvertebrate sampling on the Huron River and its creeks

Thanks to 128 volunteers who contributed approximately 650 volunteer hours, the October 2014 River Roundup was a great success!  The weather was a little dreary and chilly for our volunteers as they split into 24 teams and traveled to 48 different creek and river locations across the Huron River Watershed to assess the aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate community.  This study is one of the most effective ways that HRWC has to understand how the water quality of the river and creeks may be changing. From the data collected at this semi-annual event, we are able to keep abreast of the health of our waterways throughout the watershed. You can see all the results in October 14 River Roundup Report.

Also, in case you missed it, on November 13 the HRWC staff presented our data summaries of 2014 to a packed in crowd.  Jason discussed the broadening of HRWC’s volunteers and volunteer programming. I walked through a case study showing how our data and volunteer programming can be used to investigate pollution problems, and Ric explained how box and whisker graphs can show us water quality data. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a PDF of the presentation. Let us know if you have any questions!

 

Current Watershed Health

In a nutshell, the health of the watershed as judged by our macroinvertebrate sampling is holding steady.  Of the 62 sites that we monitor to judge this, 28 sites have had no statistically significant changes over time, and 6 sites are too new to make this judgment.

Fourteen sites are declining, and these include locations on Chilson Creek, Davis Creek, east branch of Fleming Creek, Norton Creek, and South Ore Creek.  Eight of the declining sites are in Livingston County, two are in Washtenaw, and three are in Oakland.

Fourteen sites are significantly improving.  Twelve of the improving sites are in Washtenaw County, including Boyden Creek, Horseshoe Creek, the main and west branches of Fleming Creek, Huron Creek, the Huron River in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Malletts Creek, and several places on Mill Creek. One site is improving in Livingston County (Mann Creek at Van Amberg Road), and 1 site is improving in Wayne County (Woods Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark).

Highlight

I’ve become a big fan of Arms Creek over the couple of years as I have learned more and more about it.  While possessing a rather mucky stream bed, the water is cold and heavily influenced by groundwater, the riparian zone is thick and undisturbed in many parts, and there is plenty of woody debris in the water. In fact, part of Arms Creek is actually in a Natural River Zone.  Also, many many years ago, the DNR stocked trout in Arms Creek because of the cold water temperature, which is a very rare thing for southeast Michigan. However, despite all of these great properties, the insect community has only ever been mediocre (probably due to the fine sand and muck dominating the streambed).

Kyle Fetters explored Arms Creek last summer with a group of U-M grad students through HRWC's Creekwalking program. credit: Nate Gainer

Kyle Fetters explored Arms Creek last summer with a group of U-M grad students through HRWC’s Creekwalking program. credit: Nate Gainer

Therefore I was very excited to see this fall’s sample was the best ever collected there since sampling started in 1994. Sixteen total insect families were found, with five of those members of the mayfly and caddisfly families, and 3 of the families classified as “sensitive”. Sensitive families are those that are first to disappear in disturbed or polluted conditions.  Finding three sensitive families is very good and usually only our best River Roundup sites have that many.

 

Lowlight

I have lowlighted Davis Creek before in this results blog, but the really poor results from this Roundup have prompted me to look into the issue again.  Both the Doane Road and Pontiac Trail sites had very poor macroinvertebrate samples; the worst seen in many years at both of these sites.  Both of these sites are on the main branch of Davis Creek, upstream from Sandy Bottom and Ten Mile Lake, on the outskirts of South Lyon.

To investigate the issue, I looked at the habitat data collected by our volunteers in the summer.  Both locations have good to excellent habitat, with good diversity of substrate, good riparian zones, and plenty of instream woody debris.  Furthermore, summer creekwalkers also explored two sections of this creek and also reported finding good habitat throughout.

Therefore, it is probable that there is something dissolved in the water, rather than poor habitat, that is reducing the macroinvertebrate diversity and abundance.  Our volunteers regularly take water samples during the River Roundup that we analyze for conductivity (a proxy for total dissolved solids, which includes inorganic or organic substances, naturally found and pollutants).  I plotted out conductivity over time and did indeed notice an increase of conductivity since 1994.  Conductivity is going up; bugs are going down.  A correlation like this does not prove anything especially given  the variability in the data, but it is an interesting clue.

Conductivity measurements in microsiemens/cm for the Davis Creek: Doane Road site.

Conductivity measurements in microsiemens/cm for the Davis Creek: Doane Road site.

As a followup, it could be useful to get a water analysis to determine the exact chemical constituents of Davis Creek. We may be dealing with herbicides or pesticides, or perhaps excessive chloride (from water softeners). There is also more of the creek to explore on foot, as there are some light industrial and residential areas that we have not visited yet.

What’s next?

Do you consider yourself a Michigander, or aspire to be one? Then you should brave the cold and join the Winter Stonefly Search on January 17.  It is like the River Roundup, only much snowier.  You can register for the event here.


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