Posts Tagged ‘huron river’
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.
We have a very large whiteboard in the conference room at HRWC, and the holidays prompted some doodling across its vast expanse. Suddenly, the Huron River was populated with all sorts of creatures having some winter fun, skating away…you know, like they do.
The scientists loved it – mostly. Just a few quibbles, really, and what struck me was that the concerns were NOT that the scene included Santa and his reindeer, a snowman, and that all the watershed animals were on skates. Oh, no. That was all fine! The two issues were:
- the crayfish was skating forward and not backward as nature intended
- there was a bear in the scene, and there are no bears in the watershed
The ensuing conversation, while amusing (the 2011 black bear sighting at Hudson Mills was submitted, and rejected, as evidence as it seems he/she was “just passing through”), showed the depth and breadth of scientific inquiry that is the norm at HRWC. We take a good hard look at everything, and that is to the advantage of the river, the watershed and all the creatures in it.
You just can’t get away with fake news at HRWC. A skating bear on the Huron is going to get fact-checked in all directions. A crayfish with forward momentum is simply not right, and all the
scientists on staff are going to let you know this (nicely, of course!), and then you are going to get to examine the crayfish poster (yes, we have a crayfish poster!) for information, and the conversation spirals off into what are common to the watershed (virile, northern clearwater and others) and can you eat them like crawdads (yes) and what kind of crayfish are crawdads anyway (red swamp crayfish – invasive to Michigan).
And when you have that level of examination over a cartoon crayfish, you can imagine what happens here on the more serious issues. Impacts of 1,4 dioxane on aquatic life? We are searching globally for the latest science. PAH content of “synthetic” coal tar sealants? We’re on it.
Because that’s how we do things here.
To learn more about the science behind our work, please join us on Thurs, Jan 19, 6-8pm for our Volunteer Appreciation and Season Results Presentation. Through the lens of the Huron’s many creeksheds, HRWC staff will share stories and lessons learned from our 2016 field season at this fun annual event. We will feature 2016 highlights and 2017 plans from our Bioreserve, Fish Habitat, River Bug Studies, and Water Quality programs. NEW Center, 2nd Floor, 1100 North Main Street, Ann Arbor. Register by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Rebecca Foster, Development Associate
Kindness matters. We experience that every day through our donors. It comes in the mail, through an email, in a Facebook post, or my favorite–fan mail notes included with year-end gifts that encourage us to keep doing the work. All from the kindness and generosity of our friends, members and donors. I know many people think of donations as “support” and it is that. But to me, it the person’s kindness that makes the gifts of support happen.
We continue to build a future on hope in a rapidly changing world. We know how, because the Huron River Watershed Council takes the long view and stands up for what is right for our home river. It is an environmental success story, built over fifty years, that has been a powerful force for good in our watershed community.
Thanks to your generosity HRWC has built a strong track record of upholding protections, advocating for our community’s safety and health, investigating our home waters and teaching tomorrow’s scientists. We are able to stand strong for our free-flowing Huron River and ensure ample clean water for the 650,000 residents of our watershed. Together we make a difference every day for clean water in our community.
During this season of caring, and just before the late December madness really sets in, I wanted to thank all of you for your many acts kindness to HRWC. Thank you ever so much.
New benches at Barton Pond offer peaceful waterfront viewing
Visitors to the dam at Ann Arbor’s Barton Nature Area are in for a pleasant surprise. This fall, the Huron River Watershed Council with funding from the DTE Energy Foundation installed a set of three unique riverside viewing benches along Barton Pond.
The benches are the result of an artistic collaboration between Rizzolo Brown Design and local contractor IronWoodStone. The benches are inspired by nature and designed to be beautiful in form and innovative in function. HRWC engaged Rizzolo Brown Design to survey the river corridor from Milford to Lake Erie for places that could feature inspired design or art as part of the Huron River Water Trail project. HRWC, which in 2015 earned the Huron a National Water Trail designation, seeks to bring people to the river for enjoyment and recreation. Rizzolo Brown developed an “ideas book” based on site visits to numerous park locations along the river that HRWC has shared with communities all along the Water Trail for potential projects.
We hope you will visit and enjoy the benches!
Short stories from four of our members on what giving to HRWC means to them.
On this Giving Tuesday, November 29th, a global day of giving, we hope to inspire and encourage you to stand strong for clean water with us. All gifts to HRWC and our local home waters — the Huron, will be matched dollar for dollar. Click HERE to donate today.
Thank you to our videographer and editor David Brown and our storytellers, Dieter Bouma, Chatura Vaidya and Jeremy and Aubrey Lopatin of Arbor Teas for your gracious contribution to our cause.
Dear HRWC Family,
Given the uncertainty of future environmental protection, I want to assure you that HRWC will stand strong to protect clean water. In this past presidential election, we saw a lack of conversation or priority placed on environmental issues. We saw a denigration and disregard for environmental agencies and regulations. And we saw a discrediting of science. All things that deeply concern us at HRWC.
Our strength has been and will continue to be making progress on environmental policy, science, and citizen stewardship and engagement at the local level. We are the crucial link between environmental problems and effective solutions. We educate the public, businesses, and decision makers on the problems and the solutions. We secure funds for these solutions. We advocate for policy changes. We identify emerging threats and demand action. We get out in the rivers, lakes, and woods to monitor the conditions and measure progress.
Our programs start small and local. They are built around volunteer monitoring and science, local government leadership and citizen stewards, and political advocacy. They grow from collaboration with a slew of partners and funders who share our commitment to clean water. They are based on the belief that individuals can make a difference and small changes can lead to large impacts. From local ordinances that protect us from coal tar to fish habitat improvements, from pollution reduction partnerships to building a Huron River Water Trail, we believe that our future is one of clean and plentiful water for people and nature where we all are effective and courageous champions for the Huron River and its watershed.
In the next 6 months, we will learn more about the direction of our federal and state government’s environmental agenda. I want to assure you that HRWC will be there to face any new challenges coming and will continue our work to protect and restore the river for healthy and vibrant communities.
With your support, we will stand strong and focus on our core values to generate sound science to ensure reliable supplies of clean water and a resilient natural system, to work collaboratively with all partners to engage an inclusive community of river guardians, and to passionately advocate for the health of the river and lands around it.
As I go in to the holiday season I am I am thankful that we — this community that calls the Huron its home waters — have the courage to protect the river for current and future generations. Your donation helps us stand strong. Thank you.
For the river,
Laura Rubin, Executive Director
Help protect local water and prevent teen substance abuse!
You can make a difference.
Take your unused medications (both for people and pets) to the UM’s Pain Medication Take-Back Day
Saturday, October 8, 10am-2pm, Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School Parking Lot
Check the link for a listing of accepted items.
(hosted by the Ann Arbor Police, the Institute for Healthcare and Policy Innovation, and the Division of Pain Research)
Unused prescription medications are both a water quality issue–(A US Geological Survey study concluded that 80% of streams sampled contained detectable levels of compounds found in common medications) and a teen substance abuse issue (Partnership for Drug Free Kids reports that prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds).
Disposing of medications through a take back program keeps them out of our water and gets them away from the home where teens have access.
There are lots of drug take back options (many Sheriff Stations, pharmacies, State Police) throughout the Huron River watershed. We have found the most complete information at Washtenaw County’s Don’tFlushDrugs.com. Look closely at listings for what drugs each program accepts. Some will not accept controlled/scheduled drugs (in compliance with the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), enforced by the Drug Enforcement Administration) and some will.
Quick links at HRWC’s Take Action Take Back Drugs page.
Explore the scenic Huron River in Milford
The natural beauty of the Upper Huron can be explored by kayak, canoe, paddle board, or tube, and the gentle flowing river can be enjoyed by beginners to advanced paddlers alike.
Milford is proud of its heritage and connection to the Huron River, and boasting two liveries plus being a designated Trail Town, Milford is a destination for paddling recreation. Many times during the summer months I venture out to paddle, sometimes with my husband in our tandem kayak, and sometimes on my own in my single person kayak.
When I am with my husband in our tandem kayak, we usually start in Proud Lake Recreation Area, and finish at Kent Lake. During the journey we are often greeted by many turtles sunning themselves on logs, swans, ducks, and herons. Dragonflies land on our kayak to hitch a ride with us. Looking down into the clear water fish can be seen darting about. Other paddlers pass and wave or smile with a friendly hello. Tubers float without a care in the world, and anglers in boats or on the shore wait for their bait to be nabbed. We pass by natural areas, and lovely waterfront homes in the Village of Milford. Central Park is a good place to take a break, or take a short stroll and visit downtown Milford.
If continuing on downstream, portaging over Hubbell Dam is simple enough, but helpful if there is a buddy or other kind paddler to assist in taking your vessel over. After that you will be rewarded with seeing the part of the river that feels more like you are up north in a less populated area as you paddle through the wooded shorelines of Kensington Metropark. The river opens up to Kent Lake, where beautiful water lilies abound.
The Huron River in Milford is calm enough that one can paddle upstream, so you do not necessarily have to worry about where to park your car or drop off your kayak or canoe. Just park at a launch site, and you can paddle upstream and then back downstream, or vice versa. There are many options for paddling short or long distances, from 0.9 river miles to 8+ river miles. You can opt to stay near the Trail Town, or venture out to see the river in the natural areas of Proud Lake Recreation Area or Kensington Metropark.
View an interactive map of the Huron River in Milford and plan your next paddle trip there.
Have fun, stay safe with these TIPS from the Trail!
Join HRWC for Huron River Appreciation Day, Sunday July 10! Come along on a guided trip of the Huron River Water Trail in Dexter, paddle the Lower Huron from Flat Rock or paddle to Milford from Proud Lake, hear a talk on paddling safety and get a free life jacket, hear a river history talk or learn to fly fish! Sponsored by TOYOTA.
Fish, paddle, or play at the Bell Road access point
Located slightly north of the intersection of Huron River Drive and North Territorial, this Huron River access site has it all. The river is absolutely lovely here, with lush forested riparian zones, shallow rocky riffles, deep pools, and a path that stretches upstream and downstream along the river.
The parking area is a little confusing. It is at the end of a dead-end road and there is no parking lot and you can’t see the river. The site is officially a DNR access point though, so parking is allowed here. Park at the end of the road and walk fifty yards down the path to get to the river.
I now call this location my “swimming hole” and regularly take my six year old son to play in the river, tube up and down the small rapids, throw rocks, and jump off logs and the small rock dam. It is also on a section of the river known for a superb smallmouth bass population (please catch and release!), and many people use it as a starting point for paddling instead of the busier Hudson-Mills Metropark slightly downstream.
Explore tubing on the river between Dexter and Ann Arbor
If you’ve never tubed on the river you should try it. At first I was intimidated by the young, more rowdy crowds of tubers but found quickly that tubing can be a quiet, cooling, and beautiful way to experience the river. The tubes are relatively inexpensive. Grab a pump that can run off your power outlet in your car. Pick a hot day and leave a bike or car at the Washtenaw County Stokes-Burns Park on Zeeb Road and then head to Dexter-Huron Metropark.
The rest is easy. Relax into your tube (wear a bathing suit or shorts that can get wet) and the steady current will take you gently down the river. The mile-long trip takes about an hour and a half and takes you through a beautiful stretch of the river where you catch glimpses of fish, very large and colorful dragonflies, indian paintbrush plants, herons, osprey, and other plants and animals I can’t name. On a hot day, its just about perfect! We do try to avoid the weekend river rush-hour and usually have a very relaxing experience.
If you are looking for a more lively adventure with lots of people and action, check out Tube the River from the City of Ann Arbor for info on trips through the Argo Cascades.
Join HRWC for Huron River Appreciation Day, Sunday July 10! Come along on a guided trip of the Huron River in Dexter, paddle the Lower Huron with Motor City Canoe Rental, hear a talk on paddling safety and get a free life jacket in Milford or Dexter, learn the history of the Huron or take a fly fishing lesson in Ypsilanti! Sponsored by TOYOTA.