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Native Plants and Rain Garden Information

Ask the Expert! Get Design and Installation Advice!
Saturday, March 15, 10am-2pm
Sunday, March 16, Noon-4pm

1280px-Echinacea_purpurea_Punahattu_Arto_AlanenpääVisit our booth at the Washtenaw Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show. We have two fantastic experts on hand to answer questions and offer advice on all things native plants and rain gardens:  Susan Bryan, Rain Garden Coordinator for the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office and Drew Lathin, from Creating Sustainable Landscapes. Get a basic introduction or in-depth answers to your native plant and rain garden design and installation questions.

Throughout the three-day show, HRWC and WCWRC are teaming up to share outdoor water saving tips and native plant and rain garden design and installation materials and information with the public.

Free copies of Landscaping for Water Quality, Garden Designs for Homeowners, 3rd Edition will be available.

Susan will be at the booth on Saturday and Drew will be there Sunday for limited hours (see below).

Booth: E169
Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show, March 14-16
Friday 2-8pm
Saturday 10am-7pm (expert available 10am-2pm)
Sunday 11am-5pm (expert available noon-4pm)
Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd
Admission $5, 12 and under free

For info, contact Pam, plabadie@hrwc.org, (734) 769-5123 x 602.



News to Us

Sign of Spring? Credit: John Lloyd

Sign of Spring? Credit: John Lloyd

There has been a wealth of relevant news we have run across here at HRWC over the past couple of weeks.  So much so, that for this edition of News to Us, I couldn’t pick just five.  So, in addition to the five article summaries I usually post, I have a list of headlines that may be of interest to you as well. Read about the loss of several key stream gages in the watershed, the proposed Lyndon Township sand mine, Ann Arbor’s new Green Streets policy and several articles on the implications of the severe winter weather we are experiencing.

Deal sought to keep flood predictor intact The Huron Clinton Metropark Authority recently pulled funding for several stream gages in the Huron River and its tributaries. These gages provide river flow measurements used by municipalities and other groups to monitor water levels in the river. Hamburg Township is one community looking into how to keep these gages in operation. They provide critical early warning during flood conditions.

The Crushing Cost of Climate Change: Why We Must Rethink America’s Infrastructure Investments Our nation’s aging infrastructure crisis coupled with more extreme weather events are adding up to burdensome level of expenses shouldered by states and local municipalities. This article discusses action at the national level to support critical infrastructure improvements and rebuilding after disasters.

Ann Arbor adopts ‘green streets’ policy to address stormwater runoff, pollution Ann Arbor’s City Council voted to adopt a policy that requires road projects to address stormwater. Road projects will use engineering and vegetation to infiltrate at least the first inch of rain from storms improving water quality and stream flows, reducing the risk of flooding and minimizing wear and tear on the stormwater system.

CHELSEA: Public sounds off about Lyndon Township sand mine proposal The public hearing pertaining to a proposed sand mine in Lyndon Township between the Pinckney and Waterloo Recreation Areas drew hundreds voicing opposition to the project including State Representative Gretchen Driskell. Concerns about water quality, groundwater wells, wildlife, traffic and noise were among those voiced at the public hearing.  A second hearing is scheduled for March 13th and a petition is circulating for those who oppose the development.

Convicted sewage dumper loses another court challenge  The conviction of a man charged with violating Michigan’s Natural Resources Protection Act, stands after a recent court challenge. Charges came from an incident where raw sewage was dumped into the Huron River for three days from a property owned by the defendant.

Also:

Rebecca Esselman

Rebecca keeps one eye on the river and the other on climate.She is a bit of a news buff too, bringing you News to Us twice a month.When not at the office you can find her and her family enjoying Hudson Mills and Mill Creek Park.

Latest posts by Rebecca Esselman (see all)



Senate approves bill to battle algal blooms

The Senate last night approved legislation from a bipartisan group of lawmakers to boost federal efforts against the harmful algae blooms that haunt many of the nation’s waters.

S. 1254, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and 18 colleagues, would authorize interagency work on algae blooms and the dead zones, suffering from a lack of oxygen, or hypoxia, that they frequently spawn. The legislation would also create a national program with a research plan and action strategy. The legislation also requires the interagency Task Force to: (1) submit within 18 months to Congress and the President an integrated assessment that examines the causes, consequences, and approaches to reduce hypoxia and harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes; and (2) develop and submit to Congress a plan, based on such assessment, for reducing, mitigating, and controlling such hypoxia and blooms.

The upper chamber approved the legislation by unanimous consent.

Algae blooms, a result of nutrient pollution that washes off farm fields and suburban streets and comes from wastewater treatment plants, are an entrenched problem across the United States. Sprawling algae blooms on Florida’s east and west coasts this summer kept people from the water and contributed to the deaths of sea animals, including the highest recorded annual death count for manatees (Greenwire, Dec. 20, 2013). Closer to home, nuisance algal blooms impact Ford Lake and Belleville Lake, impoundments of the Huron River, reducing access to the waters for fishing, swimming, and other outdoor pursuits.

“We can’t sit back and let endangered creatures disappear along with jobs in the fishing industry,” Nelson said when he introduced the legislation in June.

Elizabeth Riggs

Elizabeth directs RiverUp!, the signature placemaking initiative for Huron River communities, and also serves as Deputy Director for the Watershed Council. She thinks this may be the year that she finally invests in her own kayak or canoe - suggestions welcome.


Study Recommends More Work in Millers Creek

Focus area of impacts from Millers Creek sediment accumulation

Focus area of impacts from Millers Creek sediment accumulation. Courtesy of City of Ann Arbor.

Final results of a 1.5 year study of sediment transport in Millers Creek within the City of Ann Arbor were recently released at a public meeting on February 5. The city contracted with Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. to conduct the study following a series of flooding events near the mouth of the creek. These floods were due to a new course the creek was taking following sediment build-up in its floodway. The study estimated that  47 tons of sediment were deposited in Ruthven Nature Area over a five-year period.

The study recommends a range of small and large projects to reduce future accumulation or sediment transport to the Huron River. Recommendations run from simple annual maintenance activities priced at $2-3,000 per year, but yielding little sediment removal, to the $1.5 million stream restoration design HRWC helped develop for the former Pfizer property (now owned by the University of Michigan). Recommended projects include a sediment trap and removal approach, as well as channel modification (and restoration) to reduce sediment loading at the source. Some recommendations can be undertaken directly by the City of Ann Arbor alone, while others require participation from Ann Arbor Public Schools or the University of Michigan. All recommended projects would further benefit the Huron River by reducing sediment and nutrient loading from Millers Creek.

City staff will share the study with the city council and submit select recommendations for stormwater funding. Take a look for yourself at the project website.

Ric Lawson

Ric works on stormwater management and policy and sends volunteers out to measure the pulse of the river and help with watershed monitoring and studies. Officially, he is a Watershed Planner. Unofficially, he gets wet trying to catch fish and splashing around with his wife and kids at various undisclosed river locations.

Latest posts by Ric Lawson (see all)



Michigan Fisheries: 200 Years of Changes

Now available in print or PDF

A four part series on the history of Michigan fish,  featured in HRWC’s newsletter over the last two years, has been compiled into one document and is now available digitally and in print form. It is great for students, fishermen, history buffs, and everyone interested in fish and aquatic ecology.

“Michigan boasts 11,00 lakes, 36,000 miles of streams and rivers, and is surrounded by the largest system of freshwater lakes on Earth. Over the past two hundred years, European settlers and their descendants have done much to alter these natural systems and the creatures that inhabit them.
 
This special report examines how humans changed fish diversity and abundance in Michigan since 1830 through greed, stewardship, ignorance, and intention.”
This 1930's fisheries scientist surveys a habitat improvement project. Credit: Institute for Fisheries Research

This 1930′s fisheries scientist surveys a habitat improvement project. Credit: Institute for Fisheries Research

 

You can get the PDF version here.

 

If you would like a printed version, please email Paul at psteen@hrwc.org.  The printed version will not be mailed but will be available at the HRWC office for pickup.  Supply is limited!

Paul Steen

Paul works on the Adopt-a-Stream Program and is program manager for Michigan's MiCorps program, a statewide volunteer water monitoring network. He really likes aquatic insects, fish, stream ecology, natural history, and trying to make the HRWC website more legible.

Email: psteen@hrwc.org

Latest posts by Paul Steen (see all)



Save Water, Save Energy, Win Free Water

That’s right! HRWC will pay the April water bill for three lucky families in the Huron River watershed, up to $250 each!Pledge, Save, Win

HRWC’s “Pledge, Save, Win” Contest encourages watershed homeowners to make the connection between water and energy. Saving one, means saving the other. Up to 13% of our nation’s electrical energy goes to pumping, treating and heating our water supplies.

There are just three steps for entering.

1 —  GO to www.h2oheroes.org, to watch a 60-second public service announcement.

2 — PLEDGE to do one or more activities to save water daily.

3 — REPORT what you did to save water by March 31, 2014. Reporting can come in the form of stories, videos, photos or other creative ideas. Winners will be selected based on creativity and effectiveness.

To help jump start your family’s efforts, www.h2oheroes.org has many tips and tools, including an online savings calculator, and a map to verify that you live in the boundaries of the Huron River watershed if you don’t know.

Winners will be announced by April 15, 2014.

“Pledge, Save, Win” is a campaign of the Saving Water Saves Energy Project, funded by a grant from the Masco Corporation Foundation.



News to Us

Fish consumption advisories will likely be in place for a long time.

Fish consumption advisories will likely be in place for a long time.

Dexter’s Mill Creek Park recieves an award.  Also, learn more about the problem underlying Michigan fish consumption advisories, what all this snow means as temperatures warm, and the status of negotiations on the future of Detroit Water and Sewer. Finally, we share two articles on proposed developments in the watershed that are making waves.

DEXTER: Dexter Village recognized by Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors for Mill Creek Park   Area realtors give a nod to Dexter’s Mill Creek Park, awarding the Village of Dexter one of two Environmental Awareness Awards.  Several groups came together including HRWC and the Village to remove a dam from Mill Creek in 2008. The dam removal and riverside improvements on this tributary of the Huron River show how social, cultural and ecological goals can align and result in something remarkable.

Michigan’s toxic fish face long recovery, state finds  Most fish consumption advisories in the State are in place because of high levels of mercury and PCB’s in fish tissue.  These pollutants are particularly challenging to reduce as the majority of the pollutants originate in places outside of Michigan and are deposited here when it rains. A sobering analysis conducted by MDEQ concludes clean-up requires global commitments to reduce emissions of these toxins and could take 50 or more years before we see improvements here in Michigan.

Could all this snow bring spring flooding in Ann Arbor? City official says it depends  The weather forecast for next week shows warm temperatures at last.  Will we see flooding as record setting snowfall accumulations melt?

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson on Detroit water deal: ‘We’re probably going to walk’
Many residents of the watershed receive their drinking water from Detroit Sewer and Water, particularly in Wayne County and parts of Oakland County.  With major budget issues DSW has been in flux and one solution on the table is to create a regional water authority. Communities have mixed opinions on the current proposal for this new entity.

CHELSEA: Public hearing on Lyndon sand mine expected to attract concerned residents There are a couple of pending developments in the watershed that are creating a stir.  This article shares a proposed sand mining operation in Lyndon Township near Green Lake and Waterloo Recreation Area. To voice your concerns, attend a public hearing scheduled for Monday February 17th at 7:00 PM at Sylvan Township Hall.

Development spurs debate Another development making headlines is a proposed subdivision on one of the last remaining natural areas on Woodland Lake in Brighton Township.  A public hearing took place last week.  A rezoning proposal now resides with the Livingston County Planning Commission.



Snow: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Fleming Creek in winter. Photo: John Lloyd

Fleming Creek in winter. Photo: John Lloyd

Bucking the conventional feeling this winter, I have been loving all of this snow — this is how every winter should be!  Avid cross country skiers everywhere agree.

Lest the record snow and polar vortexes (vortices?) distract us, or worse, make us wonder how we could be in the grip of global warming, take a look at the latest

New York Times article on the topic.

The article describes the alarming long term trends in snowfall and snowpack worldwide, and it reminds us all that, taken alone, local weather events on any given day or month cannot support or refute global climate change.

Among many alarming trends the article points out is that Europe has lost half its glacial ice since 1850; 2/3′s of Europe’s ski resorts could be closed by 2100; and the American West may lose 25 to 100 percent of its snowpack by then.

In the Great Lakes region, the number of days with snow cover has decreased by 5 days per decade, since 1975. The average snow depth has also decreased.  Future projections predict later arrival of winter and earlier arrival of spring resulting in more precipitation falling as rain than snow  (GLISA, Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region).

Of course, global warming is not just about inconveniencing a bunch of skiers.  Those winter snows provide drinking water for us all and drought protection for farmers and forests.

So, next time you curse the snow delaying your morning commute, think about the likely future if current trends continue, and when you eventually get to the office or other workplace, give your Senator or Representative a call.

Get out and enjoy the snow while it's here!

Get out and enjoy the snow while it’s here!

 



Fostering Resiliency in our Tree Resources

This piece was written by guest blogger Mike Kaminski who worked as a intern at HRWC last summer and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan.

Resiliency is the capacity for a system to absorb disturbance without shifting into a qualitatively different state. In this case, the system we are talking about is the Huron River watershed’s trees and forests, and the disturbance is climate change. Healthy tree communities enhance stormwater infiltration, filter pollutants picked up by rainwater, keep our rivers and streams cool, and help to preserve the overall health of the Huron. Unfortunately, the River’s tree resources may be at risk due to the impacts of climate change and the extreme weather events that are expected to come with it.

With increased temperatures and extreme weather events (especially summer drought), tree species that have long been associated with the beauty of the Huron River watershed will begin shifting their population ranges north to accommodate for the change in climate. Fall foliage characterized by the vibrant reds and golds of sugar maples and beeches will be replaced by the muted browns and yellows of oaks and hickories better suited to these new weather patterns. Even the eastern white pine, the state tree of Michigan, is expected to become more rare in this area.

Fall color of a beech maple forest (left) and oak hickory forest (right)

Fall color of a beech maple forest (left) and oak hickory forest (right)

favorability-chart

Table indicating if the future climate in the watershed will likely be favorable (+), neutral (0) or unfavorable (-) to common tree species

Many potential consequences could result from the loss of these long established tree species. High numbers of urban street trees could be lost that are not well adapted. This could mean high replacement costs for local townships. Loss of municipal services such as enhanced stormwater infiltration, air cleansing, and urban heat island mitigation may occur. With fewer native trees able to survive in the changing climate, we could also observe a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services from our surrounding parks and forests.

So, what can we do about this? Two years ago, HRWC, the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA), and several local environmental leaders from around the watershed formed the Creating Climate Resilient Communities Project: an effort to address local climate change impacts by building resiliency in the watershed. Among the issues the project chose to focus on were resiliency strategies for natural infrastructure (specifically trees) within the watershed.

Now entering its third year, the Climate Resilient Communities Project has compiled several great resources on improving climate resiliency in the area’s forests and trees. These include a comprehensive report on the state of climate change and its impacts on the local watershed, fact sheets on key tree species of the area, and a report of popular and emerging management strategies for resilience in forest and tree resources. These and many other useful resources have been compiled as a comprehensive toolkit on HRWC’s website.

 



Master Rain Gardener Training Class Offered in March

New Year’s Resolution #1: Become a Master Rain GardenerResidential Rain Garden

Train as a Master Rain Gardener – add another skill to your portfolio – and become a resource for your neighborhood by keeping river water clean!  Rain Gardens filter and cool storm water so that our streams and rivers run clean.  It is a nonpoint solution for nonpoint source pollution.  Anyone can plant one in their own back yard.  The Washtenaw County Water Resources office has been building rain gardens for 8 years, and has built more than 140 rain gardens – we can pass along what we have learned to you.  Visit the Master Rain Gardener Hall of Fame (photos).

Thursday mornings 9:30am-12:30, February 27 – March 27, 2014.

Attendees must attend all five classes, and plant a rain garden to receive their Master Rain Gardener certificate.  

Location:  705 N. Zeeb, MSU Extension Classroom

Cost:  $90  (Scholarships available)

Instructors:  Harry Sheehan, Shannan Gibb-Randall, RLA, Susan Bryan, MLA

Questions?   Bryans@ewashtenaw.org  or 734-730-9025   www.ewashtenaw.org/raingardens

To register for the class, use the Rec & Ed registration page – click HERE.

Or, register in person/phone/mail by calling Linda Brzezinski 734-994-2300 x53203 or mailing your check and this form c/o her to: Rec & Ed, 1515 S. Seventh St, Ann Arbor MI 48103.

  • You will need to write a short paragraph answering these questions:  1) Tell us a little about your gardening experience.  2) Are you a Master Gardener? (not required) 3) Why do you want to become a Master Rain Gardener?
  • Residents of Miller Avenue (Newport to Maple), and W. Madison Street receive a discount.  E-mail bryans@ewashtenaw.org for details.



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