Posts Tagged ‘City of Ypsilanti’
In the last 2 months I’ve been asked a lot about my thoughts on sustainability and climate going forward. At a recent climate rally I shared what we do best at HRWC—the climate science and trends, and what people can do.
Here is a synopsis of my comments:
For 50 years our job has been to study and protect the Huron River, which runs right through many communities, including Ann Arbor. We have 25 years of data about this ecosystem. And the data confirms what we’ve seen this February. We have a migrating climate. Days like this are what we would have expected to see in Kentucky 20 years ago. Within 50 years our seasons will feel more like Oklahoma. This has massive implications for our natural ecosystems and our economy, and our quality of life!
So let me tell you about what our science shows us about Michigan today:
- It’s warmer. Annually by 2 degrees F; by 2070 an increase of 3.5 to 6 degrees.
- Today, the growing season, or the frost-free season, has gotten longer by 9 days. In the future, it could increase by 1-2 months.
- Today, Michigan gets more rain and snow—an 11% increase. In Ann Arbor 24% more.
- The strongest storms have become more intense and more frequent. These rain storms are so heavy they overwhelm our storm sewers, our dams, and our wastewater treatment plants.
But, that’s facts and figures, let me tell you a couple of stories about how that affects us all.
- People might remember that three years ago, a rain caused flooding in our watershed and in particular, on the UM campus. It was so intense and with so much water, students kayaked down the East University Street.
- HRWC researches the river. Every January, we send about 100 volunteers out, up and down the river, to collect Stoneflies. Stoneflies are little bugs that are sensitive to changes and pollution, so they tell us how healthy the river is. Two years ago we had to cancel because of the extreme cold. The volunteers couldn’t break the thick ice to get in to the river. This year, we had the opposite problem: our volunteers could not get in the river in certain places due to high flows from a 50 degree thaw. We heard from volunteers that they were already seeing stoneflies that had hatched rather than in their larval stage. This means that when the fish start spawning in April, they won’t have as many stoneflies to eat….that damages the entire aquatic ecosystem.
So we’ve had an extremely warm February, but these unexpected extremes should now be expected.
So what can we do about this? Engage, engage, engage. I hear from people day in and out that they are frustrated and yearning to take action. We need big change; to change the way we operate major infrastructure systems of this country—transportation, energy, stormwater, housing, waste, and food.
As somebody who has spent my career working on environmental issues, here’s what I find effective: 1. Take individual steps on your own and with your family; 2. Build connections with people (your colleagues, elected officials, friends, neighbors) to work on issues at a larger scale.
Stand up against the things you don’t want (a weaker EPA, the Dakota pipeline, Line 5), but at the same time take actions to create the things you do.
There’s lots of things we can do as individuals. We also have elected officials, business, and government employees, and it’s important to do things collectively and scale them up.
- To change our transportation systems, Take the bus—and advocate for robust public transit;
- To change our stormwater systems, Put in a rain garden or rain barrel—and work with neighbors to push your university or town to install better rain capture systems on roads, parks, and rooftops;
- To change our energy system, Put in solar—and help your elected officials pass tax incentives and ease of permitting for alternative energy; and
- To improve our housing system, Live near your work or school—and encourage affordable housing so others can too.
Finally, it’s important to volunteer—engage in your community, sit on a board or commission. This is tough but necessary work. This is where change is made.
In my work as Director of HRWC, I bring very different people together to protect something we all love, the Huron River. I do that by talking to everyone who plays a part—farmers, drain commissioners, hunters, anglers, politicians, scientists, and homeowners. We’re all really different people with different political perspectives. We don’t always agree, but we find ways to make real change. Because all these people work together, the river is cleaner than it’s been in 50 years. It’s that steady engaged work that makes a difference and gives me hope.
Go get involved, take up the challenge, and let’s get to work!
Here are some of our projects that exemplify how our partnerships address climate change.
Open for business this summer is the renovated canoe and kayak launch at Frog Island. Ypsilanti’s Frog Island Park on the Huron River, located just north of Depot Town between Forest and Cross, is getting a makeover. This access is located at river mile 40.7 on the Huron River Water Trail.
Since last November, invasive shrubs were removed and sight lines to the river opened up, hand rails on the stairs were installed, concrete cleaned, and an access path and launch graded and gravel added. The access is safer and easier to use. A new river-themed mural is in the works, too.
Try out the river in Ypsilanti and visit Frog Island. This section features mature tree canopy, newly restored fish habitat, and an unimpeded paddle trip into Ford Lake. Put in below Dixboro Dam, paddle the meandering river past the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital campus, portage the Superior Dam and Pen Park Dam, and see Ypsilanti from the water before taking out at Frog Island. Or start your trip at Frog Island and paddle past Riverside Park and Waterworks Park before entering Ford Lake. Paddle the upper end of the lake before taking out at Loon Feather Park. For a longer trip, paddle Ford Lake and take out at the new dam portage into North Hydro Park.
Ypsilanti Fall River Day on Sunday, October 9th offers a great opportunity to see the city by water in your own kayak or rent one that day.
Before your paddle, check out our podcast series that profiles three waterfront locations in Ypsilanti each with an important role in the city’s position as an automotive powerhouse:
- The Faircliffe Home on Ford Lake
- Motor Wheel
- Water Street
Learn more about the Automotive Heritage Trail District.
HRWC leads this RiverUp! project, in cooperation with the City of Ypsilanti. Thanks to Bill Kinley for championing this project, with support from the Walter J. Weber Jr. Family, and many individual donors. Much gratitude to Washtenaw County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Margolis Landscaping for the many hours of labor and materials generously given to this renovation. Thanks to all of the community volunteers who kicked off the work in November 2015.
Take a look at another short film released by the Huron River Watershed Council — one of a series that share stories of the renaissance happening along the Huron!
“Paddling the Huron River Water Trail” showcases this recently designated National Water Trail along its 104 miles of prime paddling for canoes, kayaks, and stand-up boards. The film features stunning aerial and underwater footage and focuses on three adventures: a solo canoe trip in the pristine Proud Lake area to the north; a group paddle trip in the dynamic Hudson Mills section; and a father and son kayak trip near Flat Rock and into Great Lake Erie.
Paddling enthusiasts can plan their own adventures with the newly released Second Edition Paddler’s Companion, a waterproof map flip book of the entire Huron River Water Trail or use the trail’s online interactive maps to plan a trip or explore.
RiverUp! is a strategy to realize the goal of a vibrant, robust, and restored river as a destination for residents, visitors, and businesses. 7 Cylinders Studio of Ann Arbor worked with HRWC over the fall and winter months producing “Paddling the Huron River Water Trail” to share the vision of RiverUp!, a plan for the Huron River’s future. Additional films in the RiverUp! Stories feature two of the Water Trail’s five Trail Towns, sharing fly fishing with local expert Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti and the transformation of Dexter’s waterfront.
We have some exciting news for you!
A new and improved Huron River Water Trail Paddler’s Companion is now available.
- Improved realistic map features to give paddlers a better understanding of the trail, launch sites, and nearby available amenities.
- Distances and float times for selected popular trips, including access points and the Trail Town traveled through.
- Our personal favorite: A new Trail Town section detailing the Five Trail Towns; Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock. Read for tailored paddling information, special highlights, places to go, popular events, and the history of each town.
Paddle down the river with ease and confidence, while learning about the rich history and culture of each Trail Town you pass. The Huron River Water Trail offers more than a quick paddle: each trip abounds with wildlife, beautiful scenery, and now a deeper connection to the people and history that helped develop our commitment to the river.
You can also purchase it through our Southeast Michigan Retail Partners.
In the news, rx the Huron River continues to receive more attention from both local governments and the national government. Also, oil reached the river from a leak at a private residence near Portage Lake. Finally read two stories covering new research, one fueled by data collected by citizens, the other from a University of Michigan researcher on microplastics in the Great Lakes.
Ypsilanti adopts designation of Michigan Trail Town along Huron River Ypsilanti City Council has formally adopted the designation of Huron River “Trail Town”. Ypsilanti is one of five, along with Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor and Flat Rock, water trail towns along the Huron that are working to maximize the benefits of being situated right on the river. The Huron offers recreation, economic and aesthetic benefits as well as many ecological benefits.
Federal agencies assist in oil leak There was an oil spill on private property in Pinckney last week. Some of that oil ended up in the Huron River. Hazmat teams were called in to contain and clean up the spill.
200 years of citizen science predict the future of forests One family has left quite a legacy. For generations, the descendants of Robert Marsham continued his efforts to capture the timing of leaf out and flowering of many plant species and the appearance of certain animals at their family estate in England. A researcher has used this information to look for trends in the data that may help us understand how natural communities may respond to changing temperatures. Citizen science helps us in many ways here at HRWC. Who knows, maybe one day all of you HRWC volunteer data collectors will be part of a story told from 200 years of data on the Huron River!
National Designation Awarded to Huron River Water Trail The Huron River Water Trail/RiverUp! is the cover story of the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association publication! The recent designation is continuing to get high profile press at the local, state and national level exposing a new audience to the treasure we have right here in southeast Michigan.
UM researcher says microplastics could threaten Great Lakes fish Here at HRWC we keep our eyes and ears open for emerging threats to the river and citizen of the Huron River watershed. Microplastics (microbeads and microfibers) are a somewhat recent addition to our aquatic systems. This article discusses potential impacts of this pollutant coming out of new research from the University of Michigan. Legislation has been introduced at the State to ban products containing microbeads.
Uncork the champagne! The Huron River Water Trail is the newest National Water Trail.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell designated the Huron River Water Trail as the 18th trail of the National Water Trails System this week. The Huron River Water Trail joins a network of national exemplary water trails from Puget Sound to the Hudson River. The National Water Trails System is an inter-agency collaborative effort administrated by the National Park Service.
In the press release issued by the National Parks Service, Secretary Jewell recognized the achievements of local, state, and federal partners in the ever-growing water trail community. “Expanding water trails nationwide improves the environment and adds value to local economies”, said Secretary Jewell. “The National Water Trail System helps people discover the natural beauty and history of local places and provides fun opportunities for families to explore the world around them.”
The Huron River Water Trail will reap many benefits of designation into the National Water Trails System including:
* national promotion and visibility
* mutual support and knowledge sharing as part of a national network
* opportunities to obtain technical assistance and funding for planning and implementing water trail projects
As a result of designation, the partners to the Water Trail may gain positive economic impact from increased tourism, assistance with stewardship and sustainability projects, assistance with recognition and special events highlighting the trail, and more.
To be considered for designation, HRWC completed a rigorous application to demonstrate that the trail met criteria in seven management practice areas. The application was reviewed at multiple levels including a federal inter-agency panel review and final review by Secretary Jewell.
The Huron River Water Trail is a 104-mile inland paddling trail connecting people to the river’s natural environment, its history, and the communities it touches in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It is a consortium of interested groups and communities committed to providing residents and visitors with a safe, accessible, and enjoyable experience on the Huron River and in the Trail Towns. The Huron River Water Trail is a project of the Huron River Watershed Council and RiverUp!.
Andrea Kline, RiverUp! Construction Manager, is the author of today’s post about Ypsilanti’s Peninsular Park and the recent investments in its amenities for paddlers and residents in the neighborhood.
Fall is shaping up to be a busy time on the Huron River Water Trail! After lots of
collaborating with our partners, planning, permitting and paperwork, we finally celebrated the opening of the new floating dock at Peninsular Park in Ypsilanti. The new dock replaces an older dock on the upstream side of the portage around the Peninsular Dam that had seen better days. Huron River Water Trail signage was installed, as well.
The ribbon cutting was attended by 40 people, including many representatives of the five Huron River Trail Towns who attended a meeting earlier in the day to share their efforts to promote the exciting experiences that await river users who visit Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Flat Rock. Several participants shared their memories of college rituals from their days at EMU that included jumping into the river from the original dock, usually under the cover of darkness!
The Peninsular Paper Mill and Dam were originally built in the 1860s, reportedly
to produce newsprint for the Chicago Tribune and the dam to power it. In 1986, the dam and 6.5 acres on the north side of the river were sold to Ypsilanti for $1. This area is now managed by the City of Ypsilanti as Peninsular Park.
If you have ever driven on North Huron River Drive near the campus of EMU, you may remember seeing the landmark Peninsular Paper Co. sign that still stands at the top of the old power house. Although it has been abandoned for some time, the powerhouse still retains some of the beautiful classical architectural features that made it a city landmark in its heyday.
Local residents and neighbors have formed The Friends of Peninsular Park to lead efforts to restore the park to its former glory. Updates and news are shared on the group’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PeninsularPark. We’re glad that the new floating dock can bring back old memories and will contribute to memories of more “good old days” in the future!
Thank you to our RiverUp! funders, especially the Austin Memorial Foundation, for investing in this section of the Huron River.
Michigan summers do a great job of bringing people out-of-doors. Schools starts soon and so I’m thinking back about all the fun that I had. I truly hope that you were busy having as much fun as I did. Our Trails Towns of Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock were filled with wonderful events all summer long.
I had planned to golf more, ride my bike daily, and plant some new flower beds, but instead I . . .
* Paddled my kayak and pedaled my bike from Flat Rock to Oakwoods Nature Center on National Trails Day in June.
* Visited every fun display and enjoyed watching kids play in the sand area at Huron River Days in Ann Arbor’s Gallup Park. There were plenty of kayakers and handmade kayaks to see. What a busy day on the River!
* Bought kettle corn, set up a lawn chair, and enjoyed outside dining in Milford as part of their Farmers Market and Concert Series. I had such a good time, I went twice! How exciting their Amphitheater at Central Park along the River is under construction!
* Enjoyed a great BBQ dinner and root beer float at Dexter Daze. I had a great time visiting with all kinds of people to share fun facts about the Huron River Water Trail and promoting our Super Moon Paddle.
* Walked across the “tridge” and marveled how pretty the Huron is in Ypsilanti during Heritage Days in Riverside Park. A hidden gem. I had great fun selling kayak raffle tickets and seeing the happy winner! It is a wonderful community event that brings together all of Ypsilanti with festivities.
The fun isn’t over yet! Flat Rock Riverfest is coming up from September 19 to 21 at HuRoc Park.
With fall on its way, you’ll find me with a cup of hot apple cider, relaxing, and watching the leaves fall. Our Trail Towns on the 104-mile will put on a spectacular display. I’m sure that we won’t be disappointed.
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.
The Huron River Watershed Council is pleased to announce that Anita Twardesky has joined the RiverUp! initiative as Trail Towns Coordinator. Anita will guide the five largest communities on the river – Milford, illness Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock – in becoming Trail Towns, trailside and gateway communities that are true recreational destinations. The Huron River Water Trail is a project of RiverUp!, medical the initiative to make the Huron River a new “Main Street” for the river towns where residents and tourists recreate, live, commute, do business, and treasure their riverfronts.
Anita is an experienced and respected recreation and trails professional. She also serves as Public Relations & Community Outreach for Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte where she is responsible for promoting outdoor recreation, paddlesports, and the ecotourism in the region. Previously, she served as Parks & Recreation Director for the cities of Woodhaven and Flat Rock. Her appointments include co-chair of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, Chair of the Trails Committee for the Michigan Recreation & Parks Association, and a member of the State Wide Advisory Group Michigan Water Trails.
The Huron River Water Trail is a 104-mile inland paddling trail connecting people to the river’s natural environment, its history, and the communities it touches in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The Huron River Water Trail is a consortium of interested groups and communities, and is a project of the Huron River Watershed Council and RiverUp!.