Bioreserve Project

The Huron River headwaters begin in this wooded swamp.

The Huron River headwaters begin in this wooded swamp.


Help the Huron River watershed protect the remaining natural areas in the watershed.

The Huron is the cleanest urban river in Michigan. This is mostly due to the substantial natural areas that remain throughout the watershed – about 44% of it is still forest, wetland, and fields.

How do natural areas help the river?

Forests, prairies, wetlands and other natural areas are beautiful and important places on their own.  They also play a critical role in keeping the Huron River clean.

  • Natural areas store and absorb rainwater and melting snow. Plants soak up and filter this water before it flows into the river.
  • Rain and snow in natural areas also soaks into the groundwater, where it eventually flows back into the river in the form of springs and seeps. Along the way, that water gets filtered by the soil and cools, so it is healthier for river animals. And the steady flow of spring-water keeps the river flowing even when there’s not much rain.
  • Wetlands and low-lying natural areas absorb excess water, preventing flooding downstream.
  • Natural areas provide homes for trees and plants, habitat for wildlife, and of course offer people places to relax, play, and enjoy nature.

But natural areas are disappearing—paved over for shopping malls and subdivisions. The biggest threat to the Huron River is the loss of natural areas.

HRWC’s Bioreserve Project

To protect the Huron’s vital natural areas, the Huron River Watershed Council has launched the Bioreserve Project,  which…

  • has created a Bioreserve Map  of these remaining natural areas;
  • is helping local communities, conservancies, and state and county agencies to prioritize limited funding to preserve the best natural areas first;
  • is working with local governments to develop policies to protect natural areas;
  • is providing information to natural area landowners to help them manage and maintain there natural areas; and
  • is organizing volunteer teams to perform field assessments on these natural areas.  If you like to get outdoors and learn about ecology, join us!

Project details

Bioreserve Map

Free Assessments for Landowners

Take a look at the Bioreserve Map. Are portions of your property on the map? Do you think they should be? HRWC would be delighted to help you find out more about the natural areas on your property. This information can help you make decisions about maintaining your land, including developing options that could provide tax incentives for conserving high quality areas. An assessment will give you a base knowledge about what natural features exist and the benefit they may provide.

Here is an example of the report that we create for your property.  We send the report to you, your community, and your local conservancy.

Contact Kris Olsson to find out  how you can be involved. Phone: 734-769-5123 x 607, Email:

Communities and Conservancies: Partner with HRWC

HRWC is seeking partnerships with local governments, conservancies, and parks departments to actively pursue strategies to permanently protect high quality natural areas. HRWC will work with partners in recruiting volunteers to assess sites, holding training sessions, and developing ordinances and policies to protect natural areas.

Contact Kris Olsson to find out more about how you can be involved. Phone: 734-769-5123 x 607 Email:


A volunteer team assesses a bioreserve site.

A volunteer team assesses a bioreserve site.

For Everyone

Here’s a great chance to get outdoors, see beautiful natural areas, and conduct real science to help the Huron. Our volunteer teams  travel to natural areas in the watershed, where they assess the area’s environmental quality. This information helps us understand which areas are most important to preserve, and why, so that we can give helpful advice to governments and landowners who want to help protect the Huron River.”


For Those Who Really Know Their Plants

If you are experienced in plant identification, we especially need your help doing field assessments! Every field assessment team will need at least one “expert” (someone who has some experience with identifying plants). If you have had a plant identification class, or have become familiar with wildflowers, grasses, and trees over time spent hiking this beautiful watershed, we’d love your help!
For additional information or to sign up, contact Kris: or 734/769-5123 x607.


Check out our online plant guides, showing all the plants identified on our assessment sites so far:

Wetland Plants--These are plants that can be found in wetland environments. Species are organized in this set by those most frequently found to least frequently found.

Grassland Plants-– These are plants that are found in local grassland environments. Each species is organized in this set by those found most frequently to least frequently.

Forest Plants-– These are plants that are found in the Forest. Plants are organized in this set by most frequent to least frequent.

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