Posts Tagged ‘Huron River Watershed Council’
Stonefly Search 2015 Wrap Up
A Surprisingly Pleasant January Day
You never know what a Michigan January will bring; last year HRWC was forced to cancel the Stonefly Search because of sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions. But this year, on January 17, 125 intrepid volunteers enjoyed bright sunshine and 30 degree weather as they spread across the Huron River watershed. They were in search of stoneflies, which are only found in clean and healthy streams. Everyone made it back safe, and not a single leaky wader was reported! Overall, it was a great success!
The results are in, and are given in this pdf report.
What We Found
1. Usually when we look at the data after an aquatic bug search, we see that some sites do better than normal, some sites do worse, but most sites stay the same. This was a strange year because while most sites stayed the same, several did worse than normal, and none did better. Overall, the count of stonefly families was down about 10% from our last sampling event (2013). There is no clear explanation for this; weather conditions were great and the ice wasn’t any thicker than other year. We will start to be concerned if we continue to see this happen year after year. However, there is always natural variation in the data and collecting and this year will likely not be the start of a downward trend in terms of the overall sampling.
2. That being said, there are specific locations that have shown long-term degradation. For example, Honey Creek in Ann Arbor. The team searching for stoneflies in Honey Creek at Wagner were unable to find stoneflies. This site has been sampled 14 times since 1995, and this is the first time that stoneflies could not be found. This is a site with lots of turbulent highly oxygenated water and should be a great place for stoneflies. Taken in isolation, the absence of the stoneflies at Wagner Road would not be concerning given that this is a single sample. However, two upstream Honey Creek Adopt-a-Stream sites used to have stoneflies but haven’t in years. Stoneflies haven’t been seen in Honey Creek at Jackson Road since 2008; they haven’t been at Honey Creek at Pratt Road since 2003. All of the pieces combined indicates that the overall quality of Honey Creek is degrading over the last decade.
3. Davis Creek at Pontiac Trail is another location where the stonefly population has dropped over time. This change is concerning because it happened slowly over the last ten years and our spring and fall samples show a very similar pattern. In the early 2000s we regularly found one or two stonefly families at the creek, but they started to drop off and now have not been found since 2009.
4. All this doom and gloom needs to be put in perspective, though. Remember, most of the sites we visited were as healthy as ever. Of the 61 Adopt-a-Stream sites that HRWC uses to assess the overall water quality of the watershed, stoneflies are regularly found at 38 of them. In other words, 62% of our watershed has very high water quality and habitat. This agrees with recent analyses of other HRWC data, showing that 66% of the watershed was good to very high quality, 28% was fair to good, and 7% was highly impacted (2014 State of the Huron)
Next on the horizon!
Interested in doing more with our macroinvertebrate searches? Think about becoming a trained leader or collector by coming to the next training on March 29. This is an extremely important job because every team needs both a trained leader and collector, and we often do not have enough to meet the demand. Sign up for the training!
Fly fishing in Ypsilanti.
Three short films are being released by the Huron River Watershed Council that share stories of the renaissance happening along the Huron River.
“Fly Fishing the Huron” is the first and features small business owner Mike Schultz and his Ypsilanti-based Schultz Outfitters: Fly Fishing Guides & Destination Travel. The film revolves around the Single Fly Tournament, hosted by Schultz Outfitters on July 20, 2014. Schultz’s enthusiasm and commitment have contributed to the revitalization of the local Ypsilanti business community and have helped sparked the popularity of fly fishing along the Huron River.
7 Cylinders Studio of Ann Arbor worked with HRWC over the summer producing “Fly Fishing the Huron” to share the vision of RiverUp!, a plan for the Huron River’s future. RiverUp! is a strategy to realize the goal of a vibrant, robust, and restored river as a destination for residents, visitors, and businesses. Additional films to be released in the RiverUp! series include Dexter’s transformation of its waterfront and the creation of the Huron River Water Trail.
HRWC leads RiverUp! in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and the Wolfpack, a group of 75 business and community leaders and organizations.
We have a paddle trip for people looking for adventure and an interest in trying their skills at biking and paddling. This Sunday, September 21st, at 1:00 we are hosting a paddle trip from Hudson Mill Metropark to Dexter-Huron Metropark with a bike to the beginning along the recently completed border to border trail.
Ron Sell and Barry Lonik, experienced paddlers (and bikers), will be leading this trip down a beautiful stretch of the river in the Natural River’s zone. Elizabeth Riggs, HRWC’s River-Up Manager will be on the trip too, adding her expertise and knowledge of RiverUp! and Huron River Water Trail improvement projects within this section of the river. Join the fun and learn about the river and try your skill with paddling and pedaling! Register here.
Searching for ways to care for your waterfront?
“Waterfront Wisdom” provides helpful information regarding how to best maintain shoreline property and protect water quality at the same time. Every waterfront homeowner has a unique opportunity to help improve the health of the Huron River watershed while maintaining a beautiful shoreline and keeping waterways clean for swimming, fishing and boating.
Some of the many tips that can be found inside:
- Minimize runoff by installing a rain garden
- Use native plants to keep geese away
- Prevent soil erosion by growing a natural shoreline along the water
- Choose phosphorus-free fertilizer or avoid fertilizer altogether to help reduce algal blooms
- Prevent excess nutrients and harmful pathogens with proper septic system maintenance
You will not only provide healthy habitat for wildlife and support recreation, but also protect drinking water.
If you have any questions or would like a printed copy mailed to you, please contact Pam Labadie at email@example.com.
For Further Information:
The adventure comes to a close!
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!
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.
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.
Our big thanks go to Mark and Erin, and all our other creekwalking volunteers, from this past summer!
The Huron River Watershed Council is pleased to announce that Andrea Kline has joined the RiverUp! initiative as Construction Manager. Andrea is responsible for the planning and construction of projects to make river recreation safer and easier at new and rehabilitated trail-heads and portages. The Huron River Water Trail is a project of RiverUp!, 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.
Andrea is a respected figure in landscape architecture and natural resource conservation throughout Michigan with extensive experience in the Southeastern part of the state. In addition to senior positions with The Nature Conservancy-Michigan Chapter, ECT, Inc., and Merit Network, Inc., Andrea has volunteered her time with The Stewardship Network and the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance, serving as a founding member of both groups. Andrea works with RiverUp! Manager Elizabeth Riggs and Trail Towns Coordinator Anita Twardesky to implement priority projects of RiverUp! from Milford to Lake Erie.
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!.
Scout and Walk a River
This past summer, several teams of volunteers participated in a new program: Creekwalking!
Mark Schaller was one of those volunteers, and he wrote about being a Creekwalker for the Downriver Walleye Federation newsletter, the fishing organization that he belongs to. Mark has given HRWC his permission for us to reproduce his adventures here on our blog.
Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at email@example.com to volunteer.
Guest Author: Mark Schaller
Several months back I received an email from the Huron River Watershed Council. They were looking for volunteers for a new program they were starting up, Creek Walking. The council members are trying to collect data on the hundreds of miles of creeks and tributaries that feed into the Huron River. Since funds are tights for this kinds of field work they need volunteers. I volunteered!
I had to attend a training meeting to find out what this was about. I was going to be part of a 5 person team that was assigned to Woods Creek. This little stream is located in Lower Huron Metro Park. My team and I would be making visits throughout the summer to take readings, pictures, clean up garbage and record any observations concerning wildlife or any aquatic critters. Seems simple, right? Oh, was I in for a surprise.
I was worried about the water levels at this time as the prior weekend the levels were about 4 feet above normal and made wading the stream hazardrous. I stopped by two days prior to our field day and the water had dropped some. My fingers were crossed that a few more days and no rain would finally allow the team to do the initial testing.
On our field day, myself and another teammate, Erin, were the only ones who were able to make it. The two of us packed up the gear and headed to the stream. The water level was back down to normal so we waded in. After one step I remembered that I never fixed the leak in my hip boots. Erin just waded in with what she was wearing. She soon found out that the all natural insect repellant that she was wearing didn’t do a thing for her. They attacked her in swarms. For some strange reason they left me alone, not that I was complaining.
Part of our work was to take temperature and water conductivity readings. The meter that HRWC gave us takes both temperature and measures the ions in the stream. Anything under a reading of 800 microsiemens meant that the water was clean and healthy. We had to take a reading every 30 feet and make it with GPS coordinates as well.All of our readings were around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and a conductivity of around 800. All seemed good. The stream itself had a gravel bottom the whole length we checked. A good sign for all those Steelheaders out there. A staff member of HRWC told me that they have had reports of steelhead fingerlings this far up the Huron so this may be a viable spawning area for them.
Another part of our job was to take pictures of the surrounding vegetation and make notes of any aquatic or land based wildlife. We didn’t see any critters but did see lots of baitfish in the stream. As far as insects go, there were a lot of damselflies and of course about a gazillion mosquitoes. Because of this and the total failure of Erin’s repellant we hurried through our sampling and got off the stream in a hurry. She was was a little annoyed that I never got bit. Sometimes it’s good to be me. She was a good sport about it though and offered to enter all our data into the spreadsheet we were given. I volunteered to go through the pictures and the file names and GPS coordinates to the datasheet.
Mission Accomplished! Our task for another day was to walk upstream in Woods Creek and continue the process.
Stayed tuned for part 2 of Mark’s creekwalking experience.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the third of four reports that make up it’s Fifth Assessment Report on climate change, and the news is predictably dire, but includes a surprising ray of hope.
As the New York Times reported on March 31, the first two reports address the science and impacts of climate change. Their conclusions include that the ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.
These impacts will likely cause starvation, increases in poverty, and violent conflicts over water and food resources throughout the world. HRWC’s special issue on Climate Change describes probable impacts on our own Huron River watershed. These impacts include shifts in fish and other species that live in the watershed, increased intensity of storms, and snowfall decreases.
The third report (as reported in the New York Times) gives the world 15 years to significantly reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and switch to alternative sources of energy. If reductions do not occur by then, it will be nearly impossible to stabilize the climate.
The reports do provide a ray of hope. The world is becoming more aware of the problem, and many governments and businesses are beginning to devise plans to adapt to coming changes. HRWC is working with communities, utilities, and scientists here in the watershed to develop strategies to increase our resilience to climate change.
But adapting to the changing climate will become nearly impossible if we don’t act to stem the continuing tide of greenhouse gas emissions.
What can you do?
Check out HRWC’s Saving Water Saves Energy page to find tips for your own energy and water use.
Encourage your state and federal Representatives and Senators to support climate change legislation, be it by requiring emission limits on power plants and cars, setting a price on carbon and other emissions to allow the free market to reduce climate change, or providing incentives for alternative energies.
And be sure to vote whenever you can, for candidates who acknowledge climate change and pledge to for climate change reduction policies!
We are putting together a fantastic conference for you and couldn’t be more excited for the 2014 State of the Huron Conference!
Learn about the focus of the April 24th event including keynote speakers, conference theme, and registration details at www.hrwc.org/sohc2014.
Join us for the only conference dedicated solely to the Huron River where community leaders, planners, scientists, educators, engineers, residents, and business owners engage in a conversation and celebration of this irreplaceable river.
The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and the Herpetological Resource and Management are asking for help in collecting dead specimens of Mudpuppies. Due to the extreme weather conditions this year, herpetologists are anticipating a large winterkill, which provides a unique opportunity to assess population health.
What is a Mudpuppy?
• Michigan’s largest, fully aquatic salamander
Why Are They Important?
• “Bioindicator” species: Due to their sensitivity to pollutants and poor water quality, these salamanders act as an early warning system for environmental problems
• Are the only intermediate host to the Endangered Salamander Mussel
• Great Lakes populations are declining, and the true abundance is currently unknown
How Can I Help?
Place the whole Mudpuppy(s) in ziploc bag, seal, and freeze the bag. Tissue samples may be placed in storage tubes containing ethanol.
Include the following information on a 3×5 card placed within the bag (using pencil) and on the outside of the bag (using permanent marker). In the case of tissue samples, label outside of tube with permanent marker.
3.) Precise Collection Location
Contact one of the following people:
1.) David Mifsud 517-522-3525 DMifsud@HerpRMan.com
2.) Maegan Stapleton 517-522-3525 Stapleton@HerpRMan.com
3.) Amber Stedman 815-761-8941 AStedman@EMich.edu
4.) Greg Schneider 734-647-1927, 734-763-0740 ES@UMich.edu