Get your hero on!
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, this year’s version features 15 of your neighbors who are doing their part to protect water quality in their everyday actions!
Your mission if you choose to accept it is to become an H2O Hero yourself. Pick a sidekick, choose your color, select hero gear and decide which “bad guys” you will fight. You can get your hero on in seven easy steps — check the hero handbook that starts on page 28 of the calendar. Once you’ve done it, “like” HRWC on Facebook and update us with your hero name (clever or not). We’ll enter you to win one of 50 H2O Hero t-shirts that we’ll give away in January.
How to get your calendar.
By mail. City of Ann Arbor, City of Brighton and Village of Dexter are direct-mailing to most households in their communities the week of November 4th.
In person. Calendars will be at these customer service counters:
-Livingston County Drain Commission and Road Commission
-Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission and Road Commission
-City of Ypsilanti
-Village of Pinckney
-Green Oak Charter Township
-Pittsfield Charter Township
-Charter Township of Ypsilanti
From HRWC. Contact Pam Labadie at email@example.com 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.
About the Calendar.
The 2014 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.
This edition of News to Us provides updates on a couple of emerging threats to Michigan’s water – Asian carp and fracking. Also, learn where Osprey go to escape the winter and how water can be the basis of a strong and growing economy.
Osprey from Michigan refuge arrives in Cuba You may recall, back in September, we shared some news about our local Osprey getting a new accessory (Osprey to wear backpacks in Southeast Michigan). Well, it seems our friends have traveled long and far. Read this article to find out where for local Osprey are wintering this year.
Michigan DEQ proposes new fracking regulations in light of environmental, health concerns In response to growing public concern, MDEQ has updated regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’. The new regulations require more reporting and closer monitoring of high volume fracking operations. While this is a step in the right direction, there is still room for improvement to ensure our waters are protected from depletion or contamination from fracking.
Water, water everywhere in Michigan – but is it enough? While water in Michigan hardly seems scare, this article highlights why we should not take this for granted and how even in a state with abundant water resources, we can experience scarcity.
Asian carp reproduce in Great Lakes watershed Scientists have found evidence that the non-native Asian Carp has reproduced in the Sandusky River in Ohio. While individual carp have been found in the Great Lakes watershed in the past, this is the first time it can be confirmed that they are here and reproducing.
Great Lakes state playing catch-up in effort to build water-based economy You may have, by now, heard the term “Blue economy”. It is the idea that water and all of its uses can form the basis of a burgeoning economy. While there are many examples in Michigan of communities making strides toward a robust blue economy, one study shows Michigan is lagging behind other Great Lakes states in this area. RiverUp! is an example here in the Huron River watershed of building a water-based economy.
Recently, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their Fifth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis; the first since 2007. The report chronicles the state of the science on climate change. The impressive work is the collaborative product of hundreds of scientists from nearly 200 countries drawing on thousands of research studies. It is the authoritative source on the subject. And unfortunately much has changed since the 2007 report and not for the better.
Overall, the report shows increased certainty pertaining to those trends you hear the most about. Surface and ocean temperatures are warming, sea level is rising, ice sheets are melting, weather is becoming more extreme and scientists are more confident than ever that humans are the cause of this warming and the resultant impacts (95% certainty, up from 90% in the 2007 report). This is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels. Weighing in at 166 MB of facts, figures, probabilities and citations, the full report is not for everyone. However, if you are interested in the main messages, there is a Summary for Policymakers, that at 36 pages with highlighted key points, is much more digestible.
The hardest hitting statement for me as I was reviewing the report is that “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped”. With no meaningful effort to curb the release of CO2 into our atmosphere on the global table, it is certain that at the local level, we will need to respond to changes. It drove home the importance of the work of HRWC and the communities of the Huron River watershed toward achieving climate resiliency. Climate resiliency is the ability of communities, both built and natural, to (pun intended) weather the storm. When rain events dump more water in shorter periods of time, when summer droughts and heat waves become more common, when shifts in seasonal patterns challenge the balance of nature (e.g. flowering of fruit trees ahead of potential for frost events or arrival of pollinators), will we have the systems in place to minimize the impact?
The river can be our friend or our enemy as climate changes. The river and our watershed have an amazing capacity to absorb and slow the energy of flowing water. Given natural areas to allow water to reach the soil and undeveloped floodplains to contain high water, the river can protect us from flooding. On the other hand, adding more pavement and building in the floodplain can exacerbate the damage a storm can cause. By making smart choices now, we build in protections for what may come. We can’t say exactly where, when or how the impacts of climate change will make its mark on our place but we can take action that prepares us for an uncertain future. Sounds good, right?
Learn more about local climate resiliency efforts on our website.
Portaging Argo Dam is a bit of a challenge. Do you float the cascades, or walk your watercraft around them and the dam?
This video, developed for the Huron River Water Trail, will give the proper directions for your trip! And hopefully it will make you laugh a little bit too. Make sure your sound is on!
The Huron River Water Trail website contains many useful trip planning tools to guide you on your next paddling excursion. The website include online maps, a store to purchase the waterproof Paddler’s Companion, tips on river safety and trail etiquette, real-time river flows, fishing updates, and suggested itineraries.
News to Us has been coming to you via a guest editor (one of HRWC’s summer interns Jhena Vigrass — Thanks Jhena!) for the past couple of months while I was out on maternity leave. After many weeks of very minimal exposure to news and current events, I have resurfaced to mixed news on the state of our river and the waters of Southeast Michigan. There have been an alarming number of reports of sewage overflows and other hazardous spills recently. This may be due to better reporting, coincidence, aging infrastructure or negligence. Likely it is a combination of several of these reasons. What it means for certain is our river has taken some hits and diligence on the part of HRWC, local governments, the State and watershed residents is as important as ever. Read about some of these setbacks and the steps several of our neighbors including Oakland County, the City of Ann Arbor and the communities of the Raisin River watershed, are doing to improve the situation.
COLUMN: Crucial issues need to be addressed regarding Great Lakes health Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash shares his opinion on some of the most pressing local issues that affect our waterways and the health of the Great Lakes. He discusses stormwater management and what he hopes the recent summit hosted by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office will do to raise awareness about stormwater issues and solutions.
Ann Arbor’s increasing sewage overflows and aging sewer system a concern of officials This article discusses recent sewage spills in Ann Arbor, possible reasons for more frequent infrastructure failures and what the City is doing in response. These spills often reach the Huron River or its tributaries directly, impacting water quality. Rapid response and prevention are key to protecting our water from sewage contamination.
Popular Bathroom Wipes Blamed for Sewer Clogs. In related news, this national piece was recently released. There are things, we as residents of this watershed, can do to help our cities and villages keep sewer systems clean, functioning and less susceptible to failure. Avoid flushing anything that does not breakdown readily such as the bathroom wipes mentioned in this article but also diapers, disposable toilet bowl cleaners, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, oil and grease all of which contribute to clogged sewage pipes.
Unknown fluid draining into Huron River near EMU campus Washtenaw County HAZMAT and EPA are investigating the spill of an unknown substance to the Huron River last week. The spill occurred near the Eastern Michigan University campus by the bridge on Forest Avenue, near Frog Island.
River Raisin Less Polluted, Officials Say Good news coming from our neighbors to the south. The Raisin River watershed, draining areas of Washtenaw, Jackson, Lenawee, Hillsdale and Monroe counties, has realized enough improvement in the river that several “beneficial use impairments” (BIUs), set by USEPA, have been removed. Two of fourteen BIUs were removed because of marked gains on E. coli and nutrient levels in the river. This is great progress made through the efforts of the communities and residents of the Raisin River watershed.
Want to meet the Lions, Tigers, and Bears of the Huron?
We’re happy to show them off – but you’ll have to help us hunt them down! (Though ours are a tad smaller, as they are aquatic insects.)
Join us on Saturday, October 12 for HRWC’s autumn River Roundup. You can bring a small group of friends or we’ll put you on a team with other awesome HRWC volunteers. The outing takes about 4 hours and starts at either 9:00 or 10:30 am (you get to choose!). We’ll send you to some really cool spots around the watershed to track down some of those critters. When you return we’ll have a nice snack to share over your stories in the wild!
For info and to register, please check out www.hrwc.org/volunteer/roundup.
*Lampyridae, Tabanidae, and Belostomatidae are, respectively, fireflies, horse flies, and giant water bugs – OH MY!!
On Wednesday afternoon I joined a group of paddlers (all women!) to test drive a few rafts down the river with the idea of developing senior programming for the City of Ann Arbor and possibly in concert with the UM Turner Geriatric Center. Yep, I never thought of rafting the river but it is a great way to get small children and senior citizens out on the river safely while providing some education and guidance about the river.
It was a gorgeous sunny day to take the trip from Argo livery to Gallup Park. Gallup Park canoe livery and launch is under construction but you can take out at the boat launch just a bit downstream. Unfortunately the river in this section was considerably impacted by some odd operations at Barton Dam so the water level dropped off. Where we were expecting about 400-500 cubic feet per second (CFS) of water in the river; we were greeted with only a mere 200 cfs. This made the ride through the Argo Cascades very bumpy and wet and then past the cascades, it meant a lot of walking and pulling the raft over rocky bottom.
We were the only boats on the river and it provided us an opportunity to see many birds. We saw two osprey as they hunted their way down the river from Riverside Park in Ann Arbor to downstream of Island Park. And we saw numerous blue herons (its hard to tell if you are seeing the same 2 over and over again, or new ones). They enjoy perching on logs or taller branches overlooking the river. Despite the river being very low, the water clarity was great and being up on a raft allowed a better vantage point to see the tons of fish and river bottom. The section below Island Park back by Fuller fields seems like a great, remote fishing spot.
In terms of senior programming, we had a few findings:
- the Argo Gallup trip is too long for seniors to sit without back support and being jostled. A shorter trip (maybe Argo to Island Park–our new launch!) was a better offering than the longer trip to Gallup;
- getting in and out of the raft using the docks works very well for creaky bones and limited mobility;
- one camp chair fits in the middle of the raft for someone in need of back support;
- an experienced and “youthful” river guide is needed to steer the boat and assist entry and exit;
- we would need to set a lower limit of water in the river (probably 400-500 cfs) so you can stay in the boat the whole trip!;
- and finally, we need to tie in a pre-raft class at Turner as part of the programming.
If you have ideas about river trip programming for seniors please let me know as we will be developing our ideas over the winter.
I’m sorry I have no pictures of the trip, but my phone was in the drybag the whole time! Highly advised when you go through the Cascades in low water.
- Quiet waters for landing and launching at Island Park
- Soil erosion and sediment control measures are installed prior to earth-moving
- The site is graded to achieve an easy slope for hauling canoes and kayaks
- Boulders at the site are used to stabilize the new design. This gravel won't scratch canoes and kayaks
- Our friend Mike happened to be fly fishing near the project site. Catch anything?
- The perfect spot for one, two or ten boats to rest.
RiverUp! strikes again! Another makeover at the river’s edge is nearing completion, this time in Ann Arbor’s Island Park.
The construction crew just wrapped up at the new canoe and kayak access located at river mile 49.4 on the Huron River Water Trail. The new launch and landing replaces the eroded and undersized (and unofficial) landing just upstream near the footbridge that had become the taking out spot for paddlers. Way-finding signage will be installed soon directing river users to the improved access point.
City of Ann Arbor Liveries Manager Cheryl Saam envisioned a better option at the new site. RiverUp! program staff and project consultant SmithGroupJJR worked with Cheryl and the city to design and implement the project. Upon visiting the site this week, Cheryl offered, “All looks really good. I think the landing is easily seen from the main river, and I really like the pea gravel mix for boat dragging.” Island Park is situated along the popular Argo to Gallup paddle trip. Cheryl adds, “We will be directing many groups to this launch since Island Park is the best stopping off point for wading, playing, picnicking and restroom breaks.”
This river access improvement was made possible through the generous support of Marguerite Smith whose own experiences with the river motivates her philanthropy. “My husband was an avid outdoorsman and particularly enjoyed solo canoeing,” shares Marguerite. “The Huron River was a favorite of his and he paddled the entire length over a period of two summers,” she recalls, “He would be pleased with the improvements that are underway through RiverUp! to enhance access and enjoyment of this wonderful resource.”
RiverUp! is the signature placemaking initiative for the Huron River and its communities. Through this effort, we are working to assist communities to maximize the Huron River as a community asset to attract residents, visitors, and businesses. From the launch of the initiative in August 2011 to present, RiverUp! is generating interest in the river and its communities, and is part of a broader Great Lakes vision to maximize freshwater resources for community development.
Nearly absent from much of Michigan due to the effects of DDT and other pesticide use, Michigan’s Osprey population continues to recover year by year. In Southern Michigan, monitoring efforts are in place to track the revitalization of this species. (See the Fall 2012 issue of The Huron River Report to hear about HRWC’s staff outing to visit ospreys nesting at Kensington Metropark). Historically, Osprey chicks have simply been banded each year as part of a National effort to monitor the species.
This year, in addition to banding, three osprey chicks from area nests will be outfitted with “Backpack” satellite telemetry units. These units were funded by grants from DTE Energy and American Tower Corporation and will help scientists track the young birds’ daily movement and seasonal migration patterns.
The exciting part is that anyone can follow along and find out where the birds are at any time on the DNR’s website. The DNR plans to use this website for educating youth and bringing wildlife into the classroom.
Please contact Holly Vaughn to schedule an osprey education program in your classroom: (248) 359-9062.
It’s the end of the first week of September, and, for many of us, the start of a new school year (at least for our kids). As the days start getting shorter, the leaves start falling and the nights begin to cool, this time of year often causes me to reflect on the past year or at least the past summer.
In particular, last night, as I ran along the river, I reflected on the many ways I’ve interacted with the Huron over the past summer and year. Like a number of us on staff, I like to run along the many trails that border the river. Last night, as sunset was approaching, the river and natural area views were particularly striking. It reminded me how hard many of us have worked to protect these important ecosystems and how lucky we are to have a high quality river because of it.
As I ran along the river, I observed some bikers out for a challenge among the riverside hills, a few paddlers out for a late afternoon float, two sets of high school seniors posing for their senior photos, and different sets of rowers perfecting their technique on the impounded quiet waters of Argo Pond. People experience the river in many different ways, and, for most of us, the relationship is a personal one. The river can be a source of challenge, a source of inspiration and energy, a muse, or a place of solitude. The river can provide provide physical, emotional and spiritual sustenance.
I personally have found myself in the Huron’s waters quite often this summer in many old and some surprisingly new ways. Each experience provided a slightly new perspective on this tremendous resource that I spend so much of my life working to maintain. I invite any of you reading this post to share your experiences with the Huron (or any other of Michigan’s many waters) this summer. We would love to read about them.
I hope your summer was as refreshing as mine and that you will continue to work with me and the rest of the staff here at HRWC to pass along this tremendous legacy to those who just embarked on a new year of learning and exploration. Roll on, sister Huron!