Posts Tagged ‘huron river’
FLAT ROCK — The culmination of more than 10 years of work will be recognized at 4 p.m. today at Huroc Park with the groundbreaking for the Flat Rock-Oakwoods connector trail. HRWC will be there to celebrate the work of many partners over the past decade who made this important link happen. In addition, we’ll kickoff the Huron River Water Trail Paddlers Companion in this Trail Town.
Sponsored by the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, the one-mile trail will be the final piece of the east-west connector trail. The project includes construction of the path from Huroc Park to Oakwoods Metropark in Huron Township, work at a railroad crossing and route signage.
Funding for the $684,300 trail is provided by federal funds and a local match from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources.
The 24-mile east-west route stretches from Belleville Lake to the shores of Lake Erie. It encompasses nearly 20,000 acres, runs through four metroparks and follows the Huron River. In fact, just a few undeveloped trail miles in Van Buren Charter Township separates the downriver route from the Border to Border Trail system in Washtenaw County, an eventual 35-mile contiguous non-motorized path along the Huron River.
The ceremony will feature remarks from Rodney Stokes, special adviser for city placemaking for Gov. Rick Snyder; Vince Ranger, grant coordinator for the Michigan Department of Transportation; Mayor Jonathan Dropiewski; Tom Woiwode, Community Foundation Southeast Michigan’s Greenways Initiative director; John McCulloch, Huron-Clinton Metroparks director; Elizabeth Riggs, Huron River Watershed Council deputy director; and Anita Twardesky, co-chair of greenways initiative.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-12th District) is invited to attend.
Join us today at 4 p.m. to help celebrate the realization of a vision where residents and visitors come together to live, work and play on the shores of the Huron River.
Let’s hear what you think about the future of state public lands……
Governor Snyder has tasked the Department of Natural Resources with developing a public land management strategy which will assist regions in meeting their prosperity goals. The plan is a requirement under a law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder last year that capped how much land the DNR can own. The DNR has drafted a strategy and wants to hear from you.
I attended a regional meeting last week that provided an interactive discussion on our region’s priority community, economic, and environmental strategies that are impacted and enhanced by public land resources (state parks, recreation areas, access, and game areas). We discussed the main strategies in the draft plan–the pros and cons, what is missing, the challenges to meet them, and how to have better collaboration.
To summarize: “The draft land use strategy calls for improved access on DNR-managed public lands and, for the first time, sets a standard for public access to the Great Lakes and rivers. The draft plan also includes a new strategy for the possible disposal of approximately 250,000 acres of DNR-managed public lands and promotes increased opportunities in southern Michigan. The plan also discusses objectives to grow Michigan’s natural resources-based economy through the use of DNR-managed public lands.”
The highpoints for me are:
1. Improved management and greater collaboration are needed and I welcome the emphasis!
2. Increasing public land opportunities and/or access and recreation in Southern MI, where the greatest population lives, makes sense and supports HRWC RiverUp! efforts.
3. The word BIODIVERSITY is missing and given the current threats (see earlier blog Forests and Waters At-Risk in Michigan) I worry about an overly strong emphasis on timber and mining where the economic benefits are more easily quantified than biodiversity and habitat protection.
The Huron River Watershed is lucky to have a wealth of state public lands from Highland to Proud Lake State Rec. Areas and from Island Lake to Pinckney State Rec. Areas. If you use these lands and care about the future of them please review the DNR strategy and comment!
This edition of News to Us starts with a success story and we all like success stories. Learn also about the islands of plastic polluting our Great Lakes. We share a few opportunities to attend public events on flooding and fracking. Read also a refreshing perspective on approaching river conservation by finding common ground among individual objectives.
A Tern for the Better: The Detroit River Comeback The common tern has returned to Belle Isle after a 50 year absence. The refuge on Belle Isle is a bright spot showing what can be when we invest in wildlife habitat even in the most urban of places. Read about the successes of our neighbors to the north.
Polluting Plastic Waste Invades Great Lakes: Pacific Garbage Patch May Have a Rival This article brings to light a less often cited, yet major source of pollution in the Great Lakes. Plastics in our waters have implications for birds, fish and other organisms in the food chain. Consider finding ways to keep plastics out of our waterways like switching to reusable bags and cleaning debris and trash away from stormdrains that carry plastics directly to our waterways during rain events.
Ann Arbor kicks off $1.2M study of sewer system, footing drain program and basement sewage backups It is the wet season again. Spring rains rejuvenate our rivers, groundwater, forests and landscaping. But for some households the rains can mean problems when water ends up in basements or sits on roads. Ann Arbor is holding a public meeting to provide updates on ongoing efforts to reduce damaging flooding including an assessment of the sanitary sewer system and footing drain disconnection program.
Sunday Brunch: A tiny trickle turns into a torrent of conservation issues for Michigan This blog from Helen Taylor, State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Michigan, shares a nice perspective on river protection. She encourages individuals and groups to consider the “whole-system” rather than a more personal view of the river with an eye on shared goals rather than win-lose propositions—a healthy lens through which to envision the path to a healthy river serving many purposes for many interests.
University of Michigan to hold town hall on future of fracking in the state For those interested in learning more about the practice of fracking to extract natural gas, University of Michigan is hosting a forum on the topic this evening. As far as we are aware, there are no plans for fracking in the watershed at this time but there is very active debate on this topic at the national and state level.
- A beautiful Huron River, where it crosses Zeeb Road. credit: John Lloyd
- Dave Wilson samples Woods Creek! credit: Nate Antieau
- Digging through the muck of Port Creek. credit: Mark Schaller
- A quick break for the camera! credit: John Lloyd
- "Do you see anything?" credit: John Lloyd
Bring on the “brrr!”
On January 26, 110 intrepid volunteers faced the harsh winter elements and spread across the Huron River watershed in search of stoneflies, which are only found in clean and healthy streams. Everyone made it back safe, which is the number one priority, and it seemed that a good time was had by all.
In 2012 the Stonefly Search volunteers had to deal with melting snow and flood conditions, but this year we had a deep freeze in the week preceeding the Search, and most of the teams had to break their way through the ice in order to sample the stream macroinvertebrates. Despite this challenging problem, stoneflies were found in great abundance at many locations. The results are in, and are given in this pdf report.
1. The status quo is being maintained for most of the sampling sites. Sites that have had stoneflies in the past are still able to support them, and sites that were not healthy enough to hold stoneflies still do not have them. That being said, we did see a few changes this year which are detailed below.
2. Four sites had the best stonefly samples that had ever been seen at those locations: Chilson Creek at Chilson Road, Fleming Creek at Galpin Road, the Huron River at Flat Rock, and Woodruff Creek at Buno Road. At each of these sites, the stoneflies normally found at the location were there, but also new stonefly families were found that had never been seen there before! A greater diversity of stoneflies indicates greater stream health. These are promising results and hopefully it will continue into longer term trends.
3. The team searching for stoneflies in Woods Creek in Belleville came back disappointed. Wood’s Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark has been sampled 12 times since 1997, and this is the first time that stoneflies could not be found. The problem likely comes from the thick ice and difficult conditions rather than pollution or disturbed stream habitat, but we will keep an eye on Wood’s Creek next year.
4. Traver Creek is a stream in north Ann Arbor that has typical urban stream problems- in particular, flashy flows and runoff, oil, and sediment from roads. In the past couple of years, part of the train track berm washed out and released a large plume of sediment to Traver Creek. However, we were pleased that both of the sites sampled on Traver Creek this year turned up stoneflies. The sites were both upstream and downstream of the wash-out.
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 24. 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!
Our weather patterns are definitely becoming less recognizable! Remember the really warm and early spring (and the frost snap where we lost our prized fruit!), to the summer drought and heat with little to no water in the river, and now to Sandy who devastated much of the East Coast and gave us early sleet and wind gusts that caused power outages.
And why isn’t climate change and adaptation a conversation in the current elections? There may be disagreement about who caused the mess we are in, but there can’t be disagreement about the massive climate extremes we are experiencing. Storms are increasing in number per year, by intensity, and by the amount of rain. Republicans and Democrats are now talking about building and re-building our cities to be more climate resilient.
Increasingly, community leaders, planners, and natural resource managers are expressing the need to understand local impacts of climate change and implement adaptation strategies. The HRWC has been leading an effort to create climate-resilient communities within the watershed by working with three sectors likely to be significantly impacted by climate change and in a position to take actions to reduce and respond to those impacts.
Downscaled climate models predict more frequent large rain events, a shift in the timing of these events, and increases in the frequency and severity of droughts. These changes threaten safety of residents via increased risk of flooding, stormwater runoff, infrastructure failure, availability and quality of drinking water and the quality of natural areas that mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.
HRWC has created a model process for watersheds where need is determined by sector members. The process creates climate-informed decision-makers who can influence relevant practices, policies and emergency management. Participants representing in-stream flows (dam operators, fisheries biologists, hydrologists), natural infrastructure (wildlife biologists, aquatic ecologists, natural lands managers), and water infrastructure (drinking water, wastewater, stormwater professionals) sectors have met over the last year to discuss local climate data, determine vulnerabilities and decide a course of action to reduce vulnerability to climate change.
Actions currently proposed for implementation include:
-Initiate and coordinate a network of dam operators to improve preparedness and communications strategies for larger, more frequent storm events and drought conditions and allow for proactive management to changes in flow and exchange of knowledge and solutions
-Revision of regional rainfall frequency curves to improve the ability to establish appropriate stormwater management regulations and storm drain sizing, reducing risk of flooding, property damage and infrastructure failures; and
-Report and provide training on predicted impacts to species and natural communities to inform urban forestry, land management and protection.
HRWC is collaborating with NOAA’s Great Lakes Integrated Sciences & Assessments Center (GLISA) to provide local climate data. The River Network, EcoAdapt and others are following this effort in order to export the process to other watersheds.
At Huron River Day on Sunday!
Over 70 H20 Heroes pledged to save water and energy with the help of a 5-minute shower timer at Sunday’s 32nd annual Huron River Day in Ann Arbor. The crowd braved the record warm weather to talk with HRWC volunteers and staff and get a photo with the H2O Hero, meet Congressman John Dingell, try a Huron Mystery Geocache Challenge hosted by the Michigan Geocaching Organization (MiGO), and enjoy food, music, paddling on Gallup Pond, a classic small boat show and plenty of family friendly activities.
HRWC was there presenting information on the Saving Water Saves Energy project and other initiatives like RiverUp! and the Huron River Water Trail. It was inspiring to see so much enthusiasm and excitement for the Huron River.
Thanks to the HRD Committee for organizing such a great event, to Bob and Beth Hospadaruk and Steve Fritz of MiGO, to HRWC volunteers Korinne and Joe Wotell for helping with the HRWC booth, and to Congressman Dingell for his support of HRD.
Hope to see you next time at HRD 33!
The future of fish
This past week I had the opportunity to attend a two-day workshop exploring the connections between streams, climate change, and fish populations. The centerpiece of this workshop was a climate change-fish vulnerability model developed by a partnership between the US Geological Survey (USGS), Michigan State University, and state agencies in Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This model makes predictions of how likely stream fish populations are to change under a range of climate change scenarios. The information can be used by water resource managers trying to understanding which fish and which streams are most at risk from climate change.
Nuts and bolts of the fish vulnerability model
Global circulation models (GCMs) are used by climate scientists to make predictions about how the Earth’s climate is going to change in the future. There are a wide variety of GCMs, all based on differing assumptions, and as a result they produce different results in terms of the predicted rates of climate change. Interestingly, all of the models do share some commonalities:
- The Earth is warming
- Winter is going to warm more than the summer
- Winters will be wetter
- The northern US will warm more than the south
- Inland areas will warm more than along coastlines
- Extreme events will be more common
The fish vulnerability model produced by the USGS and its partners uses ten of these differing GCMs and combines their climate predictions with predictions of fish presence and absence. An example is the best way to show how this works. Let’s say a particular stream holds brook trout currently. Due to temperature increases and changes in water flow by 2050, this stream is predicted to have lost the fish under GCMs #1-7. However, under GCMs #8-10, the fish is still expected to remain in the creek. Therefore, 7 out of the 10 climate change scenarios predict that the fish will be eliminated from this creek by the year 2050. The fish’s vulnerability to climate-change is said to be 70% for this particular stream.
The USGS and its partners ran this model across the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota for 14 species of fish (i.e. brook trout, brown trout, mottled sculpin, northern pike, smallmouth bass, common carp, etc). For each fish and on every stream in these states, they have produced a predicted vulnerability for that species- the percentage chance that the fish will disappear in the future.
If the model predicts a fish to be missing from a stream under all 10 of the GCMs, this means that even under lenient climate change scenarios, this fish will disappear and managing this stream for the preservation of the fish is most likely to be a lost cause. The predicted vulnerability of this fish in this stream is 100%.
If the model predicts a fish to be present in a stream under all 10 GCMs, this indicates that this fish is very resilient against climate change, or that the stream is not expected to change much, even under the most severe climate change scenarios. Managers can leave these streams alone; the predicted vulnerability of this fish in this stream is 0%.
However, if the model predicts that under some GCMs the fish will leave, and under other GCMs that the fish will stay, then water resource managers have something to work with. This model result means that the stream may be borderline for the fish in the future, and managers have a chance to keep the fish there if they can work towards making the stream more “climate change resilient”. Management activities should center on promoting rainfall infiltration and groundwater recharge. Activities like building rain gardens, maintaining and expanding our natural areas, and reducing the amount of impervious surface will provide greater opportunity for rain to percolate into the ground rather than running overland to the stream.
Groundwater is the key to climate change resiliency because in the summer when fish populations are most stressed due to high water temperatures and low rainfall, groundwater inputs maintain flow and cooler temperatures. Groundwater temperature is usually the same as the average annual air temperature because of the length of time the water spends underground. Therefore in the summer, groundwater is relatively cold as compared to surface water. Also, groundwater is released consistently to the stream, unlike sporadic rainfall, thus giving constant flow even under drought conditions.
The USGS is in the process of developing a web-based map to display their model results so that the information can be readily used by water resource managers. This web-based map and the model results are not ready for public consumption, but I will post a link from this blog when it is.
If you see a cell phone tower, look up!
You may notice in the upcoming months, HRWC is featuring the Osprey as a Huron River success story. As part of our slight obsession with this amazing bird of prey, HRWC staff recently traveled to Kensington Metropark for a staff outing. We take a half-day occasionally to venture out of our office as a group to learn about the unique attributes of our watershed. This time, led by Barb Jensen, a volunteer of Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan, we visited with a mated pair of Osprey and their young family of three fledglings on Wildwing Lake.
Osprey, a fish-eating bird of prey, once lived throughout Michigan. Known as the “fish hawk,” these birds live near water and use their keen eyesight, superb flying skills and sharp talons to catch fish. Loss of habitat and the use of DDT and other pesticides led to their decline in the southern region of the Lower Peninsula to the end that there were no nesting osprey in SE Michigan. Barb reported to us that thanks to a 1998 reintroduction project and cleaner water here in our watershed, the Osprey are rebounding. In 2011, 37 nested pairs were sited with close to 50 counted this year.
In order to protect themselves from predators like Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls, Osprey like to build their nests away from dense cover and high up enough to maintain a 360 degree view of the space around them. Cell phone towers fit the bill nicely!
HRWC staff would like to extend a special thank you to Barb, for her excellent talk on all things Osprey and for her passionate stewardship of these amazing birds. Stay tuned for more Osprey info in our Fall 2012 Huron River Report.
Lakes and rivers within the Huron River Watershed are great areas to find a great diversity of bird life and observe mating and feeding behaviors. On the Osprey outing, staff also observed Great Blue Herons, Sandhill Cranes, Baltimore Orioles and lots of water birds. On a separate walk last weekend with the City of Ann Arbor’s ornithologist, Dea Armstrong, about 20 novice birders (most of whom were new to birding) learned how easy and fun it is to observe birds, even in an urban park like that of Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. The group even spotted an active oriole nest by the river being tended by active (and beautiful) parents.
There are lots of opportunities to see birds on water walks all across the watershed. Look for opportunities in your neck of the shed and tell us about your experiences on this blog!
With the huge rain last week and the flood warnings, I visited the U.S. Geologic Survey’s (USGS) real-time stream flow gages on the river to see how the river reacted . In the Huron, we have 4 permanent USGS gages in the river that measure stream flow constantly. The sites are the Huron River near New Hudson, the Huron River near Hamburg, Mill Creek in Dexter, and Wall Street in Ann Arbor. These gages allow us to see how the river responds to rain and snowmelt. A slow, gradual rate of stream flow increase (and corresponding decrease) is indicative of a more natural and higher quality river with natural areas for infiltration. An erratic rate of increase (and decrease) is indicative of a more impacted and degraded river where pavement and pipes prevail.
The USGS also has a map of real-time streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of the year for Michigan. Only one of the sites on the Huron, that farthest up on the system, is “normal”, two other sites being “above normal” and the stream flow at Wall St. in Ann Arbor is “much above normal”. Normal flow patterns change due to increased impervious surfaces such as roads and rooftops, a loss of natural areas such as wetlands, floodplains, and forests, and dams that alter the natural flow of the river. There may also be a regional variation in annual rain amounts.
In this and coming decades, meteorologists project more intense storms for Michigan, warming and cooling periods in close succession, and an overall warming trend. HRWC is working hard to restore the river and creeks to a more natural and healthy system so they can respond to the “weird” weather–taking up and storing more rain water in storms, slowly releasing the water in to the groundwater, creeks, and rivers over time to keep steady flows in drier weather–overall, allowing for a more dynamic system to respond to the extreme weather. Examples of this kind of work include the recent protection of 40 acres of wetland in the watershed and in cumulative over 6,000 acres in Washtenaw County, the removal of Mill Pond Dam in Dexter, buffer ordinances passed in 4 watershed communities in the last 4 years, the installation of over 1300 rainbarrels and 2 dozen rain gardens, and much more.
Without funding from the USGS and local government partners to maintain these gages, it would be far more difficult to “read” the river through stream flows. Unfortunately, the gage in Milford was discontinued in the past year due to tight budgets. More, not fewer, gages are what we need on the river.
Please join us in building resilient communities and watershed. Visit our website at hrwc.org.
Winter Stonefly Search is Saturday, January 28, 2012. You’re invited to come on your own or bring a small team of friends and family for a unique wintertime activity in/on the Huron River.
As part of a long-term river study, each January, HRWC looks for “winter stoneflies,” which grow, feed, and find their mates in the coldest months when most fish are too sluggish to eat them. Stoneflies are very sensitive to changes in water quality and habitat. Like canaries in a coal mine, they tell researchers a lot about the health of the river.
Trained volunteer collectors take each team to two of HRWC’s 70 designated study sites throughout the Huron River system, where the group helps search through stones, leaves, and sediment taken from river bottoms. All equipment is provided. Participants are encouraged to dress for the weather. Volunteers meet in Ann Arbor and car pool to their assigned sites.
Participants must register to be assigned to a team. Children are welcome to attend but must bring their own adult.
DATE: Saturday, January 28, 2012
WHERE: Meet in Ann Arbor. Then car pool to two streams in Livingston, Oakland, Wayne and/or Washtenaw Counties.
WHEN: Two starting times: January 28, 2012 at 10:30AM or NOON. Takes 4 – 5 hours (2-3 hours outdoors).
DEADLINE: Registration closes on January 20, 2012.
First time volunteers, please fill out both forms:
Returning volunteers, please fill out the registration form only:
MORE INFO: Please email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out this article: http://www.annarbor.com/lifestyles/hrwcs-annual-winter-stonefly-search-a-chance-for-anglers-others-to-learn-about-stoneflies-and-stream/