Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Category

River Roundup Results Reviewed: October 2017

Aquatic insect sampling on the Huron River and its creeks

Thanks to 145 volunteers who contributed approximately 580 volunteer hours, the October 2017 River Roundup was a great success!  As always, HRWC 100% guarantees good weather for its volunteer events or your money back.  As a result, this year we most certainly gave everyone their free registration money back, because the day was cold and very wet.  Our volunteers came backed soaked with October rain, but in the tradition of ecologists everywhere, all were happy to simply have been outside.

It was a very full house here in the HRWC conference rooms before the 21 teams split up and traveled to 42 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 a summary below, or detailed results in the October 14 River Roundup Report.

It was too cold and wet to get picture for this event, so here is what we WISHED it looked like. credit: Aiman Shahpurwala (October 2016)

It was too cold and wet to get pictures for this event, so here is what we WISHED it looked like. credit: Aiman Shahpurwala (October 2016)

Current Watershed Health

Status
HRWC gives a rating to each site that we monitor (Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor). The graph below shows this breakdown for the 61 locations that HRWC considers representative for the watershed. The detailed River Roundup report gives the site condition for each location.

riverroundup-2017-graph1

 

Trends

Overall, the health of the watershed as judged by our macroinvertebrate sampling is holding steady, though there are particular areas getting worse or better.  Twenty-eight sites have had no statistically significant change over time, and 3 sites are too new to make this judgment.

Seventeen sites are declining in overall health including locations on Norton Creek, Traver Creek, Davis Creek, and Honey Creek (Washtenaw Co). Nine of the declining sites are in Livingston County, 4 are in Washtenaw, 2 are in Oakland, and 2 are in Wayne.

Thirteen sites are significantly improving.  Ten of the improving sites are in Washtenaw County, including locations on Mill Creek, Malletts Creek, Fleming Creek, and the Huron River in Ypsilanti. Two sites are improving in Livingston County (Mann Creek at Van Amberg Road and Portage Creek at Unadilla Road), and 1 site is improving in Wayne County (Woods Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark).

Highlight

There were a lot of highly diverse samples of insects collected this season.  The team at Horseshoe Creek: Merrill Road in Hamburg collected the most diverse sample seen there in many years. In the upper headwaters of the Huron, our volunteers once again found a very diverse insect population, including the rare Odontoceridae (strong case-maker caddis). In Malletts Creek, volunteers once again found a Philopotamid, a caddisfly, which is quite abundant in healthy streams but just recently popped up for the first time in this degraded-yet-improving urban creek.

The team at the Huron River: Zeeb Road collected the best sample ever taken at this site, which is saying something considering this was already the most biologically diverse location in the watershed. Twenty one insect families were found here, including 11 families from the mayfly-stonefly-caddisfly group that generally require clean water and high oxygen levels, and 5 sensitive families that are even more likely to be wiped out by the presence of pollution. (Note for people looking really close at the data report: This site is ranked #4 and and not #1 because of its large size. After controlling for size, there are three other sites that are considered more “healthy”.)

Huron River at Zeeb Road: Wide, deep, and ecologically healthy. credit: Max Bromley

Huron River at Zeeb Road: Wide, deep, and ecologically healthy. credit: Max Bromley

Lowlight

For some teams, sampling conditions were difficult.  Many volunteers faced pouring rain during most of their collection time, and a few creeks were running fast and deep. Others reported that it was simply hard to see the insects, because the ambient light was so low from the combination of  thick October rainclouds and dense trees. Despite this though, volunteers were able to find a high abundance of insects.  At only one site (Mill Creek at Manchester), was the sample so sparse that I had to reject it for failing to meet our abundance benchmark (>40% less the median abundance at this site).  The volunteers reported that the creek was flowing so fast that it was difficult to get the collector and net into the water.

Perhaps most disappointing result was the sample taken at Honey Creek: Wagner Road.  For the second time in recent years, no sensitive insect families were collected at this site. The location was known to be slightly declining over time, however, this poor sample turned the slight decline into a statistically significant one. The upstream site at Honey Creek:Jackson Road has also been significantly declining for many years now, with the last sensitive insect found in 2009.  As always, the loss of sensitive insects at Wagner Road could be a temporary blip in the data, but it is possible that the insects may not come back, similar to Jackson Road. HRWC has had a variety of projects on Honey Creek in recent years, and will continue to look into reasons why this is happening.

This graph shows the loss of sensitive insects at Honey Creek: Jackson Road

This graph shows the loss of sensitive insects at Honey Creek: Jackson Road (upstream)

This graph shows the loss of sensitive insects at Honey Creek: Wagner Road (downstream)

This graph shows the loss of sensitive insects at Honey Creek: Wagner Road (downstream)

What’s next?

Want to learn more about the data that HRWC collected this past year? On January 24th at 6 pm at our office on 1100 N. Main Street, in Ann Arbor, HRWC staff will present results and interpretation for all of the field projects conducted within the past year. Good indoor weather guaranteed!

Are you a hearty Michigander who wears shorts in January and speedos while you swim Lake Michigan in March? If so, or if you are maybe 1-2 steps lower than that, you should join the tough souls who participate in the Winter Stonefly Search on January 20.  It is like the River Roundup, only much snowier and usually colder, depending on what climate change is doing to us at the time. You can register for the event here.

riverroundup-volunteer-2017

River Roundup Show & Tell

Volunteer to study the Huron River! We can’t do it without you.

At HRWC’s River Roundup, our long-running study of the Huron River, volunteers get to know a special place in the Huron’s tributaries, while helping us learn about the river’s health.

River Roundup is an all-age friendly event, where trained volunteers guide small teams in fieldwork to search through river samples for pollution-sensitive ‘bugs’ called macroinvertebrates, that live in our waterways. The event is followed by Insect ID Day where we work inside to identify the species found.
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Volunteer videographer: David Brown

David produced “HRWC River Roundup” from concept to creation and did all the scripting, narrating, directing, filming, music and editing. Thank you David for your support of HRWC and the Huron River!
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With Jason Frenzel, HRWC Stewardship Coordinator and Zaina Al Habash and Laurie Domaleski
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Sign Up! HRWC’s next River Roundup is Saturday, October 14, with Insect ID Day following on Sunday, October 29.

2018 Watershed Community Calendar

You can be an H2O Hero!

The communities of the Huron River watershed have come together to produce another spectacular calendar. Chock full of stunning Huron River photography, stormwater pollution prevention tips and local resources to inspire you to enjoy and protect our beloved river.2018-watershed-community-calendar-cover-lo-res

Our hope is that, just like the H2O Heroes featured in the calendar, you turn inspiration into action. That you do something every day to protect clean water or work with HRWC in 2018 as a volunteer. Your calendar is conveniently marked with the dates of our Winter Stonefly Search, Spring and Fall River Roundups and the kick off training for our summer Water Quality Monitoring program!

How to get your calendar.

By mail.  Ann Arbor and Dexter have already direct-mailed it to most households in their communities.

In person.  Calendars are at these customer service counters:
-Livingston County Drain Commission and Road Commission
-Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission and Road Commission
-City of Ann Arbor
-City of Brighton
-City of Dexter
-City of Wixom2018-watershed-community-calendar-p2-lo-res
-City of Ypsilanti
-Village of Pinckney
-Green Oak Charter Township
-Hamburg Township
-Marion Township
-Pittsfield Charter Township
-Putnam Township
-Charter Township of Ypsilanti

*Barton Hills Village, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Eastern Michigan University and University of Michigan Environment, Health & Safety are also distributing calendars.

From HRWC. Contact Pam Labadie at plabadie@hrwc.org or (734)769-5123 x 602. We can mail a calendar to you for $5 or you can pick one up for free at HRWC in the NEW Center 1100 North Main Street, Ann Arbor, M-F, 8am-5pm.

About the Calendar.

The 2018 Watershed Community Calendar is a collaborative effort to educate residents about the importance of water stewardship and nonpoint source pollution prevention. The communities listed above believe there are substantial benefits that can be derived by joining together and cooperatively managing the rivers, lakes, and streams within the watershed and in providing mutual assistance in meeting state water discharge permit requirements. HRWC would like to thank them for their continued support of the calendar program.

Run for HRWC at the Big Foot Small Print Trail Run

4-Mile Trail Run and 1-Mile Kids’ Fun Run

Saturday, September 30, 2017Big Foot Small Print Trail Run
8am-Noon
Independence Lake County Park

Are you a runner? Or a walker?  Do you like beautiful trails, fall color, and helping your favorite watershed council (that would be us) AND supporting Washtenaw County Parks? We have the event for you! The Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission is partnering with the Huron River Watershed Council in the Big Foot Small Print Trail Run to support healthy and vibrant communities in Washtenaw County.

Your $35 ($40 after September 18) entry fee lets you enjoy a beautiful fall morning at Independence Lake County Park while running or kids-mile-startwalking a scenic 4-mile course. Also on offer – a 1 mile kid’s fun run/walk for children of all ages, for just $10 ($15 after September 17), so bring the whole family! Park entry fee is included in the registration for both county residents and non-residents. Sign up on the county parks website (click the “Browse Activities” link and search using keyword “run“).

“Running? Uphill both ways? Not me!” you might be saying. We need volunteers too! Contact Hannah Cooley, at cooleyh@ewashtenaw.org or (734)971-6337 x 319. Lots of fun jobs from helping with registration and packet pick-up to handing medals to racers at the finish.

2017 Water Quality Monitoring Season Marks Halfway Point

Volunteers Jacinda Bowman, Daniel Tanner, Ron Fadoir, and Charlotte Weinstein at Silver Creek having fun and taking flow measurements.

Volunteers Jacinda Bowman, Daniel Tanner, Ron Fadoir, and Charlotte Weinstein at Silver Creek in Wayne County having fun and taking flow measurements.

In March, HRWC’s Water Quality Monitoring Program began the season with a volunteer orientation where we introduced what we do and gave an overview of the goals we hope to achieve. 50 enthusiastic individuals had field training just a few weeks later, and have been going out every two weeks to our 39 monitoring sites throughout Livingston, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties. At these site visits, volunteers grab water samples for chemistry analysis by a laboratory, gather field data such as dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and temperature, and also take flow measurements.

Another 18 volunteers attended our mid-season orientation in June. These new volunteers are joining the current team to help finish out the remainder of the monitoring season, which ends on September 28.

Pat Rodgers and Peg White gather field data at Woodruff Creek in Livingston County.

Volunteers Pat Rodgers and Peg White gather field data at Woodruff Creek in Livingston County.

Thanks to all of our Water Quality Monitoring Program volunteers for their help in gathering important watershed data, and to the leaders in the program who assist in training and overseeing the data collection in the field. We could not do it without you! We are at the halfway point!

For more information about the Water Quality Monitoring Program, click here.

2016 Stewardship Awardees

Last night, HRWC’s Annual Meeting featured highlights from 2016: progress on the Huron River Water Trail, green infrastructure projects and plans, updates on pollution prevention initiatives like coal tar and dioxane, and efforts to ready the watershed for climate change. Our work would not be possible without the amazing support given by our donors, funders, volunteers, and peer organizations. Please join us in celebrating a few who went above and beyond in recent years. You can read more about these folks in our summer newsletter, the Huron River Report, coming out in June.

HRWC Stewardship Awardees 2017

Janet Kahan, Melissa Damaschke, John M. Erb, Sally Rutzky and Wendy Schultz

Janet Kahan
Volunteer of the Year
Janet leads HRWC’s youth streamside education program, working with volunteers of all sorts to teach stream ecology and water quality to over 1000 students per year.

Sally Rutzky
Herb Munzel Achievement Award
Sally has been a stalwart supporter of the Huron, HRWC, and local communities as she’s advocated for better zoning and planning, gotten in the way of sand mining, and used her expert plant identification skills on behalf of the watershed.

Wendy Schultz
Extraordinary Partner Award
A key ally of HRWC’s water quality monitoring program, Wendy and her staff test our samples from Washtenaw County, identify and solve programmatic problems, and graciously greet our volunteers throughout the season offering tips and encouragement for collecting much needed water samples from our streams.

Erb Family Foundation
Big Splash Award
The Erb Family Foundation has been a forerunner in funding organizational growth and new programmatic initiatives including our RiverUp! program. Long-term support like theirs is key to nonprofit organizational health.

Join us in congratulating these watershed champions!

 

Why I’m Marching

I will be joining the local March for Science this Saturday in my hometown of Ann Arbor. I am doing this because I have come to realize that those of us who are active scientists or who regularly use data or information produced by scientists need to do a better job communicating scientific discovery to the rest of the world. At its core, science is a systematic method of differentiating fact from opinion. Science is not a philosophy or religion. It is not a political platform. It is simply the best method we have to discover what is true about our world.

Here at HRWC, we engage in scientific discovery on a daily basis to learn about what is happening in the river, its tributaries and the land that drains to it. By utilizing the scientific approach to understanding, we can be confident that the actions we are taking, and the resources we ask our members and partners to invest have a strong likelihood of making a positive difference — to produce the high quality water resources that we want.

HRWC volunteer Larry and University of Michigan researcher Brandon installing stream sensor equipment.

HRWC volunteer Larry Scheer and University of Michigan researcher Brandon Wong installing stream sensor equipment.

The last few weeks I worked with our partners at the University of Michigan and our volunteers (our citizen scientists!) to install cutting-edge sensors and technology to make real-time observations of stream flows and water chemistry to help us better understand what happens during storms. This will lead us to recommend the best practices to capture and treat stormwater runoff in the future and improve water quality and river habitat. Without this evidence-based knowledge, we would just be guessing at what works.

What concerns me (and ultimately why I am marching) is that our current national leadership is proposing significant cuts to funding for all types of science. Further, policies are being proposed or established that run counter to well-established scientific understanding, like climate change, and the effects of environmental regulation. Science matters. Truth matters.

I encourage you all to get out and march with me or get out and contribute to our understanding by volunteering at events like Saturday’s River Round-up.

Exploring the Home Waters

A special Earth Day tribute from an HRWC volunteer

Pat Chargot water quality monitoring on a Huron River creekIf you have ever volunteered with HRWC, explored one of its many creeks on your own, or even wondered “where are these creeks HRWC keeps talking about?” you will want to read this thoughtful essay of observations from author Pat Chargot. Pat volunteered for HRWC’s Water Quality Monitoring Program in 2016. She shares what she learned about her home waters and more in Exploring the Home Waters.”

Thank you Pat for protecting the Huron River.

Enjoy and happy Earth Day!

2015-16 Snapshot

We often write about our projects and give updates on how we are achieving our goals.  Today, we are sharing a quick, at-a-glance summary of what we accomplished from 2015-2016.

You can also learn about our 2016 accomplishments at our upcoming Annual Meeting on April 27, 5:30-7:30 pm at the Ann Arbor District Library, Traverwood Branch, 3333 Traverwood Drive (at Huron Parkway). Program staff will present results and answer questions. And we will celebrate some very special HRWC contributors with Stewardship Awards. This event is open and free to all, refreshments included.  Please join us!

2015-2016 Annual Report Infographic

Want more details now? Check out our 2015-2016 Annual Report.

 

Make a Difference… Be a Scientist on Earth Day

Join a team of kids, teens, adults, and retirees during the River Roundup as you explore creeks and rivers.

Join a team of kids, teens, adults, and retirees during the River Roundup as you explore creeks and rivers.

Earth Day falls on April 22 this year, and not accidentally, so does HRWC’s spring River Roundup.  Perhaps the idea of Earth Day may strike you as a little disheartening this year, in our current political climate of science and environmental budget cuts, and widespread doubt in scientific data.  Are we making a difference at all?  Or is our country reverting back to an era of rivers catching on fire?  What is so disheartening to me personally is not a looming Federal budget that will remove funding for the Great Lakes and environmental regulation (though that is terrible, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not surprised by this), but to see so many people who agree with this course of action. Still, there is room for hope in our future, and that hopes lies in you—the many people who want clean water and clean land and who stand strong with HRWC to work for it.

Consider volunteering with us. Every participant makes an immediate difference at our local level.  HRWC volunteers collect scientific data in southeast Michigan, primarily in Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties. For the upcoming River Roundup on Earth Day, volunteers will be looking for aquatic insects that tell us about the health of the Huron River and its tributaries, and ultimately about the health of all the land that drains into the Huron.  This information gives HRWC the knowledge to conduct effective river management projects and the authority to speak  intelligently on water quality issues with local, state, and federal government, landowners, and  other decision-makers.

And in the process of collecting scientific data, HRWC volunteers are learning and teaching others.  It is always so exciting to see the adult HRWC volunteers interacting and teaching children, teens, and college students about river systems, insects, and the environment.  And in as many cases, to see the kids teaching the adults! This is the type of education that will create the long term cultural change needed in our country.

Make a difference locally by acting now to help HRWC collect scientific information that informs our management decisions and local policies; change the future by teaching the younger generation in the process. The River Roundup is on Earth Day, April 22.  Learn more about the River Roundup and register at http://www.hrwc.org/volunteer/roundup/


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