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My Huron River (Hudson Mills to Barton Pond)

Dad and daughter enjoying a paddle.

Dad and daughter enjoying a paddle.

I fell in love with the Huron on this beautiful stretch of river. River mile 67 to mile 56 is one of the longest undammed strands of rolling water in SE Michigan. The banks along the river are thick with large, old willows, maples and a good diversity of hardwoods and a smattering of cedars, thanks to a wide riparian corridor protected by the Natural River Zone. My family and I like to take a nice, slow paddle along this piece of river to forget our worries and reconnect with the living planet as we flow through it. I find my mind wandering as I scout for trophy bass in deep pools, and sometimes forget I am only a few miles from home.

This Father’s Day my wife Kathy, son Foster and daughter Ally took me out for a beautiful trip. The water was high and fast from recent rains and a bit tawny, but clear at the start of the trip. Song birds called out across the river to potential mates or rivals on the other bank. We crossed a sad run where a tornado ripped across the river three years ago and tree damage is still evident. When we reached the confluence with Mill Creek the mixing zone is stark. The clear waters of the upper Huron get colored by the roiling, sediment-filled outwash from Mill Creek. The water volume almost doubles here and the river picks up pace, quickly taking the boat along its course to the rapids at Delhi, where we took the canoes out. Along the way, the kids jumped out and enjoyed a free-form float to cool off in the river’s embrace.

Fly fish the Huron River.

Fly fishing downstream of Delhi Rapids.

I also like to spend a few hours fly fishing on the upper parts of this river stretch. The river varies nicely from wide, shallow riffles, through quick narrow runs, to long stretches of slow, deeper water and pools — great for hiding big fish (though I never seem to be able to find them). I cherish the moments of quiet reflection as a gentle breeze rustles the leaves and I attempt to flick my fly into that hole where I just know a big one is waiting for a meal to swim by. To be honest, though, I find that any time spent on or in the Huron is time well spent.

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on FacebookTwitter and InstagramUse #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.



My Huron River (Kensington MetroPark)

HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.

Growing up in Farmington, Michigan, the Big Beach trip in our family was to take a cooler and some lawn chairs up to Kensington MetroPark, where I had a great time digging in the sand, picnicking, and swimming at Maple Beach.  But the highlight of the trip was always the visit to the Kensington Nature Center.  Here is where I could actually touch Things From Nature!  Like furs, and skulls, and the mystery boxes you put your hand in to guess what was inside.  Here is where I could watch the bees for hours (well, I’m sure now it was really minutes) toiling away in the glass-walled hive.  It was here, I believe, (along with weekly episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” on Channel 7), where I also discovered the importance of wildlife, natural areas, and water to our quality of life, and thus was planted the seed of my future career as an advocate for the environment.  Little did I know at the time that I was recreating on the Huron River and enjoying its surrounding natural beauty, and that it would be my future workplace.

So, thank you Kensington, MetroPark, for helping to make me who I am!

IslandDriveKensingtonbyEllenm1Kensington MetroPark.  Photo: ellenm1

 

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on FacebookTwitter and InstagramUse #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.

 



My Huron River (upstream of Hudson Mills)

At Dusk

At Dusk
credit: J. Lloyd

One of my favorite spots to visit on the Huron is just downstream of the Flook (Portage Lake) dam and upstream of the old Bell Road bridge on the main stem of the river.  The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA) opened a fishing access site on Dexter-Pinckney Road about 10 years ago.  This section of the river is noted for it’s exceptional smallmouth bass fishery, but I love it for the gravel and cobble bottom, the shallow depth, and the clear, cool water.

Rocks and Riffles

Rocks and Riffles
credit: J. Lloyd

It’s an perfect place to visit on a warm summer day for some wading and swimming.  You must wear some footwear to protect the soles of your feet (the zebra mussel shells are pretty sharp!).  But my family simply wades in and walks upstream and downstream exploring the rocks and riffles and the occasional plunge pool.  It’s a popular spot for anglers but when I’ve visited it is relatively quiet and you feel like no one is around.

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.



Oakland County: Learn About Invasive Plants

Phragmites is an invasive grass forming dense stands in wet areas of the Huron River watershed

Phragmites is an invasive grass forming dense stands in wet areas of the Huron River watershed

Wednesday, July 8, 7pm in Waterford

Join the Oakland County Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area group to learn about invasive plants, how they can harm property values, safety, and water quality.

The FREE presentation will also explain how invasive plants can be controlled, who can do it, and how property owners can all work together to reap the benefits of having a proactive plan to control invasives.

Wednesday, July 8, at 7pm at the

Executive Office Building 
Conference Center
2100 Pontiac Lake Rd.
Building 41West
Waterford, MI 48328

For more information about what you can do to control invasive plants, see HRWC’s Invasive Plants Web Page

 



Green Infrastructure for Bees

BeeOnConeflowerByMisko

Photo: Misko

A recent HRWC Green Infrastructure Workshop has spurred a Northfield Township resident to promote native landscapes to help our struggling bee populations. Cecilia Infante has begun a campaign to increase backyard habitat for honey bees and other pollinators. “Anyone can participate by planting pollinator friendly plants in gardens or just window boxes (you don’t even need a yard). We also want to educate residents and business owners about this environmental emergency, and encourage them to make small changes that have a big impact on the environment, such as considering alternatives to pesticides (especially neonicotinoids) and to the manicured lawns that are “food deserts” for honey bees and monarchs. Landscapes of native flowers and grasses would provide forage for pollinators while requiring far less maintenance and cost than a green lawn.”

On May 19, the White House announced its National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators (Pollinator Health Strategy 2015 (pdf)). Michigan is one of the five states slated to receive a portion of the $11 million designated to support this national cause (USDA Provides $8 Million to Help Boost Declining Honey Bee Population). While the deadline to apply for the initial $3 million has passed, there are myriad other opportunities available for those interested in participating in the recovery of the honey bee and monarch populations through the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the DNR’s Wildlife Habitat Development Efforts.

In addition to forming a network of residents creating habitats, green infrastructure and applying for conservation support, Cecilia’s group hopes Northfield Township residents will consider promoting Whitmore Lake as one of the first “Bee Cities” in Michigan (Ypsilanti is currently exploring this certification–see http://www.beecityusa.org/ ).

HRWC has long advocated for native landscapes, including installation of rain gardens as stormwater-control green infrastructure – rain gardens provide great habitat and refuge for pollinators of all kinds, including honey bees and they help protect water quality by infiltrating stormwater runoff.

Other resources:

The Xerces Society

DNR Guide to Backyard Wildlife Management 

Michigan State University Extension

If you would like to learn more about enhancing habitat for pollinators, or want to connect with the newly-formed “MI Pollinator Project,”  email Cecilia at writing4all@aol.com.



My Huron River (Hudson Mills Metropark)

HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.

Hudson Mills Metropark is literally in my backyard.  It is arguably the reason we bought our home.  My husband and I are both river scientists and enthusiasts so when it came time to raise a family we knew we wanted our children on the river. A lot. hudsonmills

The park is such a great setting to access the river. You can bike (or take a wagon ride) along the border-to-border trail.  In this section, that trail is lined by beautiful forest and offers many river views. My favorite time on the trail is during the spring bloom. Trout lily, trillium, spring beauty and marsh marigold are just a few of the gems that carpet the forest floor in early spring.

IMG_4472Paddling this stretch is a treat too. The river is wide, meandering, forested and full of wildlife.  The clear water makes fish and turtle sighting easy and there is no shortage of birds. The water is clean, often shallow and slow moving with a welcoming bottom so we let our kids wade around, swim, throw sticks and rocks to their heart’s content.

And then there are days where we are looking for the company of others.  We head to the visitors center for one of their many events like the Easter egg hunt or maple sugaring demonstrations. Or we picnic and let the kids burn some energy on the play ground.

We are incredibly fortunate in the Huron River watershed, to have the Metroparks system. They own the land along an incredible 40 miles of the river protecting it from development and maintaining the natural setting that people and animals alike enjoy.

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.



My Huron River (Milford Trail)

HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.

A swan poses for a photo in front of Hubbell Pond on the Milford Trail.

A swan poses for a photo in front of Hubbell Pond on the Milford Trail.

Being from Milford, I have several options within walking or biking distance where I can enjoy the natural beauty that is a part of the Huron River watershed. However, my personal favorite place to go is the Milford Trail. The Milford Trail is a paved hike/bike trail which opened in 2009. I did not discover it until 2012, when I decided to start bicycling again.

The trail starts near the YMCA on Commerce Rd, then continues across the dam and along G.M. Road, then south near Martindale Road, and ends at the Kensington Metropark entrance at Milford Road, running about 3.6 miles. The trail connects with the Kensington trail loop, if you want to continue on from there.

The Milford Trail route.  Numbers indicate mileage. Credit: http://www.milfordtrail.com/

The Milford Trail route. Numbers indicate mileage. Credit: http://www.milfordtrail.com/

The Milford Trail winds through beautiful wooded areas and meadows around Hubbell Pond, challenging the bicyclist with hills, but also welcoming a rest on one of several benches along the way where you can take a break to regenerate and enjoy the picturesque view. The people on the trail are often pleasant, nodding or saying hello to each other as you pass, a reflection of the friendly spirit of the people in the area, making the trail a comfortable place to be.

A turtle greets me on the Milford Trail.

A turtle greets me on the Milford Trail.

While visiting the Milford Trail I have had encounters with all sorts of wildlife, such as turtles, snakes, deer, frogs, and swans who have stopped long enough to pose and allow me to take their picture.

I want to add that if you are in to mountain biking, there is also a mountain bike trail within the Milford Trail area that is quite challenging from what I understand. It crosses over the paved path several times, so it would be easy to connect to it if you decide you are up for the challenge.

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.



What’s Going on in Norton Creek?

Volunteers Mary Bajcz and Larry Scheer monitoring at Norton Creek

Volunteers Mary Bajcz and Larry Scheer monitoring at Norton Creek

On June 3, 2015, the Huron River Watershed Council started sampling at 10 sites on Norton Creek, located in Oakland County.   In addition to water quality monitoring, volunteers and interns are also assessing the area by looking at the road/stream crossings, creek walking and paddling on the creek, and conducting neighborhood assessments.

Norton Creek, a tributary to the Huron River, drains 24.2 square miles and is located in portions of Commerce, Lyon and Milford Townships, and the cities of Novi, Walled Lake, Wixom and Wolverine Lake in Oakland County.

Norton Creekshed Map

Norton Creekshed Map

Bill Lee at Norton

HRWC Volunteer Bill Lee grabs samples at a Norton Creek site.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality designated Norton Creek as impaired due to excess sediments and low dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen refers to the amount of oxygen that is available in water, and it is essential for aquatic life and good water quality. The cause for low dissolved oxygen in Norton Creek is attributed to high biological and sediment oxygen demand — meaning that algae and bacteria are consuming all available oxygen, leaving none for bugs and fish.

HRWC was awarded a SAW grant (Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater Program) to fund the Norton Creek project.  Based upon the data collected from our monitoring efforts, a watershed management plan will be developed to address and fix the impairment.

HRWC intern Gianna Petito sampling at a Norton Creek site.

HRWC intern Gianna Petito sampling at a Norton Creek site.

 

 

The extent of impairments and the likely source contributions will be evaluated, along with the development of a realistic prescription of remediation, restoration, and protection actions.  HRWC has been and will continue to work with key stakeholders and concerned citizens in the Norton Creek communities in a collaborative effort to help restore this at-risk creek.

We want to thank the volunteers and interns who are helping HRWC with the data collection effort!  It is because of your help that we are able to quickly and efficiently gather the data we need to develop an effective watershed management plan to improve Norton Creek!



400 Parts Per Million

The latest cry for our individual and collective attention on climate change

One of the most high profile advocacy groups fighting to curb greenhouse gas emissions is 350.org, whose name embodies the goal of the organization.  At around 350 PPM of CO2 in our atmosphere we are ensured a livable planet.  Above this, we embark on a grand experiment. One where we cannot know all the outcomes but have a growing understanding of the consequences of destabilizing Earth’s climate.

Recently we learned that for the first time in millions of years, CO2 levels in our atmosphere reached and remained at 400 PPM (for all of March).  2015 is predicted to be the hottest year on record and actual data from the first four months are upholding the prediction. To add insult to injury, we are experiencing an El Niño event which, driven by warm ocean temperatures in the Pacific, tends to cause more extreme weather over much of the globe.

I try to keep my communications on climate focused on solutions and hope.  I have to say, this 400 number has me thrown for a loop.  The number itself is not any more significant than say, 399 or 401.  But, what it does represent is a warning signal—a  number that should cause alarm and provoke thought on what exactly we are or are not doing to slow the rise of this number. If 350 PPM represents the safe zone, what is 400? What is 450? How fast are we heading in that direction? Climate scientists regularly model different future scenarios that account for changes in the amount of CO2 we emit through the burning of fossil fuels. Reaching 400 PPM in 2015 has us clearly aligned with the highest (business as usual) emissions scenario. In spite of all we know, we are more or less proceeding as before.

I just returned from a week of inspiring talks and conversations on how communities throughout the nation are preparing for climate change at the National Adaptation Forum (NAF).  The conference provides a forum for sharing and learning how people and governments are implementing practices that will help our towns and cities adapt to climate impacts like more drought, higher heat, severe storms and higher sea levels. The existence of an event like this (attended by over 800 adaptation professionals) illustrates how people throughout our country are acknowledging the need to prepare for a future where the weather looks significantly different from the past.  I’ve come home from this conference each time, with a renewed sense of hope and energy to help my work here at HRWC.

Prayer Wheels for the planet

A tale of two contrasting realities. The threat and the hope. Prayer wheels by artist Chris Moench.

This year however, with the conference coinciding with the 400 PPM milestone (forgive me) there has been a little rain on my parade. It reminds me, that though adapting to a new climate is essential at this point in the game, we cannot, must not, lessen our efforts to curb global greenhouse gas emissions.  As the country that is responsible for 25% of global emissions each year, the weight is heavy on our shoulders here in the US.  Continue to take personal action to reduce your carbon footprint (here are some ideas pertaining to water) and consider participating in a vocal advocacy group like 350.org to help apply pressure at the national and international level for action.

At NAF, artist Chris Moench displayed two prayer wheels (a Tibetan Buddhist tradition) he created as part of an ISET’s Resilient Narratives project. One with art to reflect a positive future. The other to represent the threat. Conference participants were asked to contribute their hopes, wishes, prayers, promises, to the urns. What are your hopes for the future?  What would you contribute to the prayer wheel? And what can you do to help us collectively get there?



My Huron River (Happy Hour on Little Portage Lake)

HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.

A typical view while sipping wine on Little Portage Lake In Pinckney

                                            A typical view while sipping wine on Little Portage Lake in Pinckney

I live in Pinckney and one of my favorite places is Little Portage Lake on the Chain of Lakes. Little Portage is a small lake that is the western end of the Chain and is also fed by Portage Creek, one of the most pristine creeks in the watershed.

This is not your typical Michigan inland lake, crowded with houses and docks. The lake is surrounded on 3 sides by woods and wetlands, and on weekday evenings in particular, there is virtually no boat traffic.

We rent dock space from Klave’s at the mouth of Portage Creek, and my husband and I often head out for happy hour, knowing we will only be sharing the lake with swans, swallows, frogs, turtles, and the occasional muskrat and sandhill crane.

We like to drop anchor in a cove at the west end of the lake. The water is about 15′ deep here, and there are no houses at all. Just woods and wetlands, and the background music is the soft slap of the water against the boat, bird calls, insect songs, and sometimes a swan kerfluffle with wings batting at the water surface and echoing across the lake.

It’s the very definition of peace and tranquility, and goes well with a chilled sauvignon blanc or your favorite microbrew.

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on FacebookTwitter and InstagramUse #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.

 

 

 




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