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News to Us

Adult Emerald Ash Borer. Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Adult Emerald Ash Borer. Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Today’s News to Us shares an article on how the winter impacted Emerald Ash Borer populations in the area.  Also read two articles on the status of a couple of developments on Huron riverfront properties- Milford has a new brewery and Ypsilanti struggles to fill Water Street.  Finally, Washtenaw County has a new reporting service for flood and drainage issues.

After the Trees Disappear: Ash Forests After Emerald Ash Borers Destroy Them  The cold weather did nothing to deter the Emerald Ash Borer’s march through the northern Midwest and east coast. The insect is decimating ash tree populations with implication far exceeding the loss of landscape and street trees. This article shares the status of the invasion and potential consequences for forests in our area.

Water Street property falls short of initial expectations  Debate about the fate of Ypsilanti’s Water Street property continues. There are high hopes for this riverfront property to provide river and open space recreation activities along with benefits for downtown businesses and residents. But interest in the property from investors has been sparse. Read about the latest discussions in this article.

New River’s Edge Brewery now open in downtown Milford  A new brewery has opened in the watershed.  River’s Edge in Milford will bring brews to the river front.  Stop by and welcome our new neighbor, either in car or kayak!

Residents can now report flooding, drainage problems to county using online form  Washtenaw County residents can now submit reports of flooding and drainage issues online.  Photos can be uploaded too, to help identify the problem.  This is a new feature.  Residents can still report issues on email or by phone.  Emergency issues should still be reported using 911.



Michigan trails get a boost with new legislation

A few weeks ago I promised to share an update on the status of the bills package being considered in Lansing to expand the definition of ‘trails’ to include water trails and provide funding to support trails across the state.

Today, Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills, now Public Acts 210-215 of 2014 that redefines the designation process of special trails in the state and supports the development of a statewide network of multiple use trails and water trails.

The bills give the director of the Department of Natural Resources the authority to name trailways as “Pure Michigan Trails,” water trails as “Pure Michigan Water Trails” and towns as “Pure Michigan Trail Towns,” pending approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. They also allow statewide volunteer activities to include trail enhancement programs in support of trail upkeep and maintenance.

More from the State’s press release here.

Our RiverUp! work includes establishing the Huron River Water Trail and developing Trail Towns in each of 5 largest towns on the river. We’ll all pretty excited here about this new investment that can benefit these efforts. Anita Twardesky, our Trail Towns Coordinator, shares, “What an exciting time for trails in our State! Southeast Michigan is home to many water trails, Trail Town programs and bike paths. Our trail systems are poised to become a great addition to the statewide system.”

We applaud this legislation and look forward to working with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure that Southeast Michigan is well-represented to help showcase our unlimited outdoor recreation activities.

Delhi Rapids on the Huron River Water Trail. Photo courtesy of T. Janiuk

Delhi Rapids on the Huron River Water Trail. Photo courtesy of T. Janiuk



Progress on Climate Change

On June 2, the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.

The proposal would

  • cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
  • Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits (in Michigan, our nine oldest power plants cost Michigan families $1.5 billion each year in healthcare costs); and
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system. Recent reports for Michigan show that renewable power is 26 percent cheaper than comparable coal-fired electricity, while Michigan customers save $3.83 for every dollar invested in energy efficiency programs.

States have until 2030 to reach the goal, and will be allowed to use a variety of strategies to reach the goal.  This flexibility will allow states to reach the goal with a minimum of disruption to their economies.  In fact, many studies predict that the rules will spur markets in alternative energy and energy consumption, creating jobs and resulting in cheaper electricity bills.

EPA published the proposed rule today (June 18) in the Federal Register and will take comments for the next 120 days (up until October 16).  EPA will finalize the standards next June.  Please add your voice and let EPA know you support the new rule.  You can use the suggested text below (from the Natural Resources Defense Council) or write your own, and submit to the EPA.

“Comment on existing source pollution standard [Docket: EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602]

“Dear Environmental Protection Agency,

“Thank you for proposing this standard to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. Without these standards in place, polluters will continue to dump an unlimited amount of carbon pollution into our air.

“This is a critical part of President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution coming from power plants each year. With these limits we can avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.

“Carbon pollution fuels climate change, drives extreme weather, threatens communities and cuts too many lives short. I urge you to stand strong against their pressure and adopt this critical new standard (Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602).”



News to Us

dte site

In this edition of News to Us read about the impact of water resources on Michigan’s economy and how the State and energy providers are responding to the recent EPA rule on reducing carbon emissions associated with power production. The MichCon cleanup site and Nichols Arboretum’s School Girls Glen are also highlighted in the news recently.  Finally, dive into Popular Science this month for a full read on water.

Michigan’s University Research Corridor plays major role in protecting and advancing Michigan’s ‘Blue Economy’  At the recent Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference a report was released quantifying the impact of local universities’ investments in water research, education and outreach.  “Innovating for the Blue Economy” speaks to the importance of water resources to Michigan’s economy.

Michigan gets ready for EPA’s proposed carbon rules  What is the response, in Michigan, to EPA’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants? This piece reveals, generally, the State’s major power companies are not surprised by the rules and have been decreasing the amount of energy derived from coal for some time now. However, coal is still the primary source of energy in DTE’s portfolio at around 50%.  The State is left to determine how to reach the federal goal of 30% reduction in carbon pollution from power generation by 2030.

Redevelopment of riverfront MichCon site in Ann Arbor in the works  A 14-acre riverfront environmental cleanup site in Ann Arbor may have a developer to lead the redevelopment as soon as this fall.  Mixed-use development is proposed for the site including public access to the river and greenspace.  HRWC has been an advocate for the cleanup and smart redevelopment of the property which could help connect downtown and the river.

The vanishing of Schoolgirls’ Glen Read a historical account of a special spot on the watershed map – Schoolgirls’ Glen.  The Glen has a unique history. Now part of the UM Nichols Arboretum, it has been damaged by the encroachment of development and poor stormwater management. Efforts are currently underway to help restore this place which is home to a diversity of plant and bird species.

Popular Science – Water Issue 2014 And if you really like to get your feet wet in water issues and news, this month’s Popular Science magazine is designated entirely to the topic of water.  The What’s in Your Drinking Water infographic is a particularly interesting look at the problem of pharmaceuticals in our water. There is also a good Q&A on the water/energy nexus, a concept we explore here at HRWC in our Saving Water Saves Energy project.  There is also a compelling piece on water conservation and conflict, among others.

And that is the news to us.



Join HRWC and celebrate the summer solstice!

There is still room available on our next paddle trip; don’t miss an opportunity to experience the quiet waters of the Huron River with expert paddlers Ron Sell, Barry Lonik, and the HRWC staff. Our summer solstice paddle includes discussion regarding the river’s water ecology, history, and unique features. Shuttle transportation is provided. Bring your own watercraft, gear, food, drinking water and appropriate clothing for the weather. Every paddler must wear a flotation device – bring your own!

Gallup_Park_-_Huron_River_1

For a Paddler’s Safety Checklist click HERE.

  • Saturday, June 21
    Summer Solstice Paddle
    Island Park to Peninsular Dam*

*Exact location of each put-in will be sent to participants upon registration.

Registration is required and available HERE.

More information and how to register for all of our summer recreation events HERE.



Two “Families” Save Their Way To Winning!

The Thomas-Rupley family and the Benjamin Linder Co-op in Ann Arbor save water, energy and money, reduce their CO2 emissions and earn free water from HRWC.

Both entered the HRWC Saving Water Saves Energy Project’s “Pledge, Save, Win” Contest in March. Both will get their first quarter water bill paid (up to $250) for their efforts.

Save Water Comic

A comic book of savings from Benjamin Linder Co-op.

The Co-op’s savings, estimated at 100 gallons per day, were led by Emma Kelly, the group’s sustainability steward. Emma helped her housemates save water by installing 5-minute shower timers and providing grey water collection buckets in each shower. Residents re-use the grey water to flush toilets. Emma also focused housemates on saving at the washing machines — advising them to wash only full loads on cold water cycles.

SWSE Pledge Contest Rain Barrel

The Thomas-Rupley’s save with a rain barrel.

The Thomas-Rupley family, estimated savings 31.5 gallons per day, has been living a water-saving lifestyle for some time. They made their own rain barrel for watering their garden, retrofitted their toilet to make it dual-flush and installed a low flow shower head. They also use left over drinking water for houseplants, and catch excess cold water from the kitchen faucet for use in their washing machine.  The Thomas-Rupleys also wash only full loads in their clothes washer.

Entries were judged for the amount of water saved, the savings techniques and for creativity in showing and telling how savings were achieved. Extra points were awarded for saving energy-intense hot water and full participation of the entire household!

Congratulations to the Thomas-Rupleys and the residents of the Benjamin Linder Co-op! Save on!



Being a Creekwalker (Part 3)

The adventure comes to a close!

You can read Mark Schaller’s first post and second post about his experiences with HRWC’s Creekwalking Program.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. The training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at jfrenzel@hrwc.org to volunteer.

____________________________________________________

Guest Author: Mark Schaller

It all comes down to this, the final visit.  This time, I arrived early so I could set some crayfish and minnow traps.  I had seen fish on earlier visits but could never get a good look at any of them.  The deepest part of the stream was where I placed the thermometer so I figured that would be a good site for a trap.  I also placed a crayfish trap further upstream in a rocky area hoping to catch some more crayfish and get a good positive ID.  Everything was set!

Creekwalkers look pick up trash, take water measurements, and record and photograph erosion and infrastructure problems.

Creekwalkers pick up trash, take water measurements, and record and photograph erosion and infrastructure problems.

As I walked back to my Jeep, Erin was heading down the trail.  After our “Hello’s” we headed back to the parking lot to get the rest of the gear.  We picked up the paperwork, meter, measuring stick and my camera and headed back to the stream.  Our starting point was where I placed my crayfish trap and we had 6 crayfish already in the trap.  As I started to pull them out for pictures I found that 3 of them were the invasive Rusty.  The other 3 were northern crayfish.  They were a lot bigger than the Rusty’s so I’m hoping they are holding their own against them.  Too bad; after our last trip I thought that there weren’t any Rusty’s in here.

In midsummer, Woods Creek is a great place to sit down and soak in the cool water... if the mosquitos aren't too bad.

In midsummer, Woods Creek is a great place to sit down and soak in the cool water… if the mosquitoes aren’t too bad.

We then started by taking the water temperature and conductivity readings. When we reached the halfway point I handed the GPS and water conductivity meter over to Erin.  She wanted to see how the meter worked and I needed to get some pictures of her as well.  She took about 4 more readings and then next thing we knew we were at the end of our sample area.  All that was left now was for Erin to compile all the data and for me to turn it in with all the equipment. Mission Accomplished!

I have to say the creekwalking experience was a lot of fun.  Walking up and down Wood Creek brought back a lot of fond memories of myself as a kid exploring all the creeks and streams of my youth.

Good times.

________________________________

Our big thanks go to Mark and Erin, and all our other creekwalking volunteers, from this past summer!



Fly fishing lesson’s foster a summer of fun!

FFL Kids

This past Sunday HRWC held our annual Fly Fishing Lessons; thanks to our instructor, Mike Mouradian of Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited, along with the help of experienced instructors from AATU, and Dirk Fischbach, of Bailiwicks Outdoors in Dexter. This year’s lessons were held at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor and we couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions. During each of the lesson’s instructors explained casting, knot tying, fly identification, and the entomology of fly fishing. The lessons were comprised of informative lectures, as well as, hand’s on activities where the participant’s hone their newly learned skills.

A very special thanks to all of the participants, and to the dedicated instructors for contributing their time and knowledge so that participants could understand the essentials to foster a summer of fun!

Fly

Upcoming recreation events:

Birding, Saturday, June 7, 7:30 AM, Gallup Park Canoe Livery Boat Launch

Paddle Trip, Saturday, June 21, 4 PM, Island Park to Peninsular Dam

 

More information and how to register for all of our summer recreation events HERE



Livingston County Compost Bin & Rain Barrel Sale

Order by Monday, June 9th.

Livingston RB SaleAvailable items are the “FreeGarden 55-gallon Rain Barrel” for $55 ($150 value), the “FreeGarden Compost Bin” $45 ($100 value), compost pails, aerators, and thermometers. Details and ordering information HERE.

This is a Pre-order sale only.

The PICK UP DAY for all pre-ordered units is Saturday June 14, 2014, 9am-3pm at the Livingston County East Complex parking lot located at 2300 E. Grand River Ave in Howell.

This is your opportunity to purchase high quality products while taking advantage of high volume pricing. Hosted by the the Livingston County Solid Waste Program, this sale is made possible through the Livingston County Drain Commissioner, Brian Jonckheere, and the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. Further information is available at www.livgov.com/dpw or by calling the Solid Waste Program at 517-545-9609 during normal business hours or by e-mail at solidwaste@livgov.com.

 Details and ordering information HERE.



News to Us

IMG_1850

High water levels in the watershed after a series of heavy spring rains

Look out for cooler summer temperatures and high water levels in the Great Lakes this summer.  Also keep a lookout for ticks as populations are booming in some locations.  Read a couple of articles on how river flows, both high and low, can impact communities and ecosystems.  Finally, read the latest on two hot local topics – the proposed Lyndon Township sand mine and the oil and gas prospecting taking place in Scio Township.

Extensive Great Lakes ice and El Niño equals cooler Michigan summer Forecasters are predicting a cooler than average summer this year.  Historically, years with high ice cover on the Great Lakes also have cooler summers and this year had some of the highest ice cover on record.  Meteorologists also predict a delay in the typical severe storm season for Michigan.  We may be seeing some severe events into June.  Another outcome of this year’s Great Lakes ice cover is that lake levels are expected to be significantly higher in recent years.

There’s a tick boom in Michigan – Here are 5 things you should know There is a population boom of blacklegged ticks in Michigan this year.  This is the species of tick that can carry Lyme disease. It is good to know how to identify a deer tick and how to remove it correctly.

Ann Arbor canoe liveries temporarily shut down river trips due to high water in Huron River  Following a series of larger rain events in mid-May, several canoe liveries shut down operations because of high water levels which result in fast flows and otherwise unsafe conditions for less experienced paddlers.  Stream gages that measure flow in the river were measuring over 2,000 cubic feet per second; double the flow beyond which liveries close down operations.

A Sacred Reunion: The Colorado River Returns to the Sea In national news, we celebrate a momentous occasion this month.  For the first time in well over a decade, (and one of only a few occurrences since 1963) the Colorado River has reached its outlet at the Sea of Cortez. The fact that the river has run dry in its lower reaches for so long serves as an illustration of how over allocation of our freshwater resources has cascading impacts for both wildlife and people.  The river is reaching the sea due to a recent agreement between the US and Mexico.  The agreement allows for a five year experiment that implements a pulse flow at a critical time of year.  While this is not a permanent solution to a very complex problem, it is a heartening step in the right direction.

City attorney for Chelsea responds to sand mine public hearing For those of you following the dialog around a proposed sand mine in Lyndon Township, this latest article shares that the application for the mine has been tabled for six months.  Delaying a decision on the application will allow the City of Chelsea and Lyndon Township time to update ordinances and do more research into impacts of the mining operation.

Area lawmakers express concern over oil, gas drilling proposed for Scio Township  In other local extraction news, opposition to proposed oil and gas drilling in Scio township continues to grow.  Several local legislators have submitted a public comment asking the State to deny a permit for an exploratory well.  Read the letter and learn more about the issue in this article.  The public comment period on the permit is still open.

 




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