Posts Tagged ‘huron river’
River and creek sampling
Thanks to 137 volunteers who contributed a total of 548 volunteer hours, the 2013 Fall River Roundup was a great success! Our volunteers split into 25 teams and traveled to 50 different creek and river locations across the Huron River Watershed to assess the aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate community.
This study is one of the most effective ways that HRWC has to keep its finger on the pulse of the stream. From the data collected from this semi-annual event, we get a better understanding of which creeks and rivers are getting better, which are getting worse, and how we can direct our management activities.
You can see all the results in Fall 2013 River Roundup Report.
Current Watershed Health
In a nutshell, the health of the watershed as judged by our macroinvertebrate sampling is holding steady. Of the 62 sites that we monitor to judge this, 30 sites have had no statistically significant changes over time, and 6 sites are too new to make this judgment.
12 sites are declining, and these include locations on Chilson Creek, Davis Creek, east branch of Fleming Creek, Norton Creek, and South Ore Creek. The majority of the declining sites are in Livingston County. Eight of the declining sites are in Livingston, two are in Washtenaw, and three are in Oakland.
14 sites are significantly improving. 11 of improving sites are in Washtenaw County, including Boyden Creek, Horseshoe Creek, the main and west branches of Fleming Creek, Huron Creek, the Huron River in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and several places on Mill Creek. 2 sites are improving in Livingston County (Horseshoe Creek at Merrill Road and Mann Creek at Van Amberg Road), and 1 site is improving in Wayne County (Woods Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark).
1. For many years HRWC has held up Millers Creek in Ann Arbor as an example of what can happen to an urban creek- the stream flow is flashy, the channel is incised, the riparian vegetation is shrubby invasive plants, and there is little life in the creek. In 2009 HRWC finished up a green infrastructure project in the headwaters of Millers designed to reduce the amount of stormwater rushing into the creek, and at the same time the City of Ann Arbor finished a major streambank stabilization project where the creek crossed Glazier Way.
The efforts spent restoring Millers Creek seems to be paying off. The sample taken in Millers Creek at Glazier Way contained the most insect families ever seen since sampling began in 1993. While the overall trend since 1993 is unchanged, from 2004 when the creek was at its worst (3 insect families), until now in 2013 (12 insect families), there is a statistically significant increase. Insects that are particularly susceptible to pollution and disturbance have yet to be found here however, and we will continue monitoring in hopes that these insects will make their way back to the stream.
2. Starting in this past January, HRWC has been sending volunteers to two new stream sites on Portage Creek near Stockbridge. This is a long drive from Ann Arbor and we appreciate the volunteers who have made this journey. This Roundup, volunteers in the Portage Creek at Rockwell site found a treasure trove of insect diversity. Twenty insect families were found which puts this new site up there with the very best places we go. We will look forward to visiting this site again in the future!
Norton creekshed in Oakland County is a Detroit suburb and industrial hub. Historically, the creek has suffered from numerous impairments and has seen little improvement as the area has become increasingly suburbanized.
In terms of the macroinvertebrate community, samples taken here have always had terrible diversity and low abundance, but in recent years things have gotten worse. When sampling started in Norton Creek at West Maple Road in 2000, it was normal to find between 8 and 10 insect families. However, volunteers during the past four fall River Roundups have found 3, 4, 4, and 3 insect families. Two of the insect families found are actually water striders, which are only semi-aquatic as they live on top of the rather than in the water.
These poor samples have made Norton Creek the worst location of all of those that HRWC monitors. For more information on Norton Creek, see our Norton Creek page and associated creekshed report. http://www.hrwc.org/norton
On January 26th, HRWC staff and volunteers will gather for the 19th annual Stonefly Search. This event is very similar to a River Roundup except that we are only looking for stoneflies. Some of these little guys can be found year round, but there are a couple of stonefly families that are only reliably found in the winter months, and they are great indicators of healthy water. We hope you and your family and friends will join us for this fun outdoor event! Register here! http://www.hrwc.org/volunteer/stonefly/
In addition to HRWC’s own PSA, “A Hero Rises” produced by our Saving Water Saves Energy project with Detroit Public Television and funded by the Masco Corporation Foundation, we are happy to report that several local college students have been bitten by the film arts bug! I am currently working with a terrific group of Washtenaw Community College students and their instructor Matt Zacharias to review and debut a bevy of Huron-related PSAs (coming in January).
And this is just in from the University of Michigan!
Ever wonder how people understand and make sense of climate change? Ever wanted to convince people that the issue is important? Well now is your chance.
The Erb Institute, in collaboration with the department of Screen Arts & Cultures, has sponsored a competition to create the best student-produced video aimed at engaging the public in climate change.
Public voting for student-produced videos for the Climate Change Communication Challenge is now open!
They challenged U-M students to create a public service announcement that would inspire positive action on climate change. Eleven teams of students put their skills to the test. Now is your chance to weigh in on the best video!
The video receiving the most votes will receive the $1,500 Popular Vote Award. The poll closes at 12 PM EST onThursday, November 21.
Spread the word! Encourage your friends, family, students, and colleagues to vote!
Want to meet the Lions, Tigers, and Bears of the Huron?
We’re happy to show them off – but you’ll have to help us hunt them down! (Though ours are a tad smaller, as they are aquatic insects.)
Join us on Saturday, October 12 for HRWC’s autumn River Roundup. You can bring a small group of friends or we’ll put you on a team with other awesome HRWC volunteers. The outing takes about 4 hours and starts at either 9:00 or 10:30 am (you get to choose!). We’ll send you to some really cool spots around the watershed to track down some of those critters. When you return we’ll have a nice snack to share over your stories in the wild!
For info and to register, please check out www.hrwc.org/volunteer/roundup.
*Lampyridae, Tabanidae, and Belostomatidae are, respectively, fireflies, horse flies, and giant water bugs – OH MY!!
**Note: If you are looking for the October 9th edition of News to Us please click here. An incorrect link was circulated in our recent email.**
This edition of News to Us describes new projects dedicated to protecting the Huron River and other freshwater resources throughout the state. Read about the increasing popularity of the Huron as well as a recent bird sighting.
European frog-bit: the next invasive plant to watch – Fast moving aquatic invasive that colonizes marshes, ditches and swamps as well as shorelines of lakes and rivers discovered near Alpena.
Helping Michigan cities plan for a warmer future – A Michigan Radio interview with Beth Gibbons, project manager for the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities (GLAA-C) on helping cities like Flint, Michigan plan for climate change adaptation.
Jackson officials accept court’s decision nullifying stormwater fee; services such as leaf pickup eliminated — The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the city’s stormwater fee an unconstitutional tax that violates the Headlee Amendment. Jackson declines to appeal the decision.
Ann Arbor officials credit large increase in river trips to popularity of Argo Cascades – Liveries along the Huron reported record numbers of river trips this summer, including HRWC’s neighbors at the Argo Canoe Livery. The recently installed Cascades are said to be the reason. Get out on the river before the summer ends. Register here for HRWC’s last paddle trip, September 21.
Washtenaw County to back $3.33M in bonds for flood control in Ann Arbor — The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners recently approved support for five exciting projects within Ann Arbor and the Allen Creek watershed that will help to mitigate flooding and reduce E. coli and phosphorus levels in the Huron. Projects range from installing new stormwater control measures in drains to planting trees!
Sewer overflows declining, but heavy rains still push sewage into streams – Michigan’s sewer systems seem to be out of sight and out of mind — until they break. Recent reports find that current systems will take billions of dollars to upgrade and fix. Many cities and counties are trying to adapt these systems to a changing climate, with more intense rainfall that stresses stormwater plants. Fortunately, new legislation is funding grants to be used by cities throughout the state to alleviate the problem.
Bird battle stuns shutterbug — A great blue heron recently got a little too close to a mother osprey and her nest. Mama osprey went above and beyond the call of duty to teach heron a lesson.
River Network recognizes HRWC executive director for inspirational leadership.
Laura Rubin has been recognized as a 2013 River Hero by River Network, a national association of watershed protection groups. The award celebrates rivers and watersheds, recognizes victories, and honors those who provide leadership that inspires the work of others and uses innovative strategies and techniques to achieve significant results.
Laura, who is celebrating 15 years at HRWC’s helm, has been instrumental in establishing HRWC’s reputation as a regional and national leader in river protection work. Her leadership makes it possible to undertake innovative new initiatives like RiverUp!, a million dollar campaign for a river renaissance of the Huron River.
HRWC is known for its outstanding citizen scientist programs like Adopt-A-Stream and the Bioreserve Project, its stormwater and pollution management services for regulated communities, and programs that address natural areas protection, climate resiliency and water efficiency. Laura’s efforts have shaped HRWC into an organization that provides a framework for local governments, citizens, non-profits, industries and regulators to partner for the benefit of the Huron River and its watershed.
Rubin and HRWC have made a difference. A few notable achievements include:
- Implementing the first phosphorus reduction strategy in the state and seeing phosphorus numbers falling;
- Seeing the Village of Dexter embrace the river and build a vibrant downtown around the river through the successful removal of Dexter Dam;
- Protecting over 6,000 acres of high quality natural area and farmland with our partners in the watershed;
- Tackling climate issues making local communities more climate resilient and residents aware that saving waters, saves energy; and
- Developing a sound financial foundation for the organization, with a diverse source of funding. HRWC’s budget and ability to implement water quality programs has increased more than tenfold in her tenure, with an annual budget of $1,200,000 for fiscal year 2014.
“Laura has exceeded our expectations in building and leading team success–success in achieving measurable water quality results while creating programs designed to measure and accelerate further improvement of water quality throughout the watershed,” Evan Pratt, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and HRWC Board Chair.
Laura and four others were named River Heroes at River Network’s national conference, River Rally, in May. Long time colleague and friend Matt Naud, Environmental Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor traveled to St. Louis to introduce Laura at the award ceremony. “She has enthusiastically led our communities to the river . . . and we are better for it. Neither the Huron River nor the watershed communities who enjoy her will ever be the same thanks to our River Hero, Laura Rubin,” stated Matt.
Laura has also been recognized for her outstanding public service with a “Special Tribute” from the State of Michigan and a “Proclamation” from the City of Ann Arbor declaring May 20, 2013 “Laura Rubin Day”.
Catch the video of the award ceremony at River Rally.
Celebrate the River and meet HRWC’s H2O Hero!
Location: Gallup Park, 3000 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor
HRWC will be there with information about the Huron River and our many projects that restore and protect it. Our streamside education team will be on hand to show which river bugs help us determine the river’s health and share information about our river monitoring efforts.
Ride your bike for a free boat rental!
Family-friendly activities at the festival include:
- $5 Canoe & Kayak rentals
- Childrens Activity Tent with art and science fun
- Bubble play with the Bubbleman
- Live animal program with Leslie Science Center
- Butterfly House
- Music: Gemini ~ Juice ~ Mysty Lyn and the Big Beautiful
- Fun River Exhibits
- Kids Envirochallenge
- Fishing Fun
- Classic Small Boat Show
- Fly Fishing Demonstrations
For the early birds:
- Run the Gallup Gallop 5K at 8:30am
- Canoe with a Naturalist at 11am
For more information you can visit the HURON RIVER DAY website here.
Who can take the shortest showers?
This past year, a group of six students from Ann Arbor’s Skyline High School tapped into HRWC’s “Saving Water Saves Energy” project by producing a “how to” video for their school’s community. Inspired by the water conservation information they were learning, they decided to create a unique contest for their fellow classmates.
These students, who were members of the Communications, Media and Public Policy magnet, wanted to see how their classmates were doing – how much water were they using? And if they were using a lot, why not teach them a little about water conservation?
Are you ready to rumble?
They challenged 30 students from each of the four magnet programs offered at Skyline to cut their water – and as a result, energy — consumption. The classes were competing for the shortest shower, and were encouraged to bring their times down to a quick five minutes per shower!
Our students talked to their peers about where their water comes from as well as the energy it takes to process and deliver the water they use every day. They hoped that with this awareness, students would bring advice home to their families and friends about water usage and conservation.
Each competitor took an initial survey to set a baseline, and then took daily surveys in the following week to see if they were able to cut down their shower time. At the end of the week the students looked at the results and found that the Health and Medicine magnet class cut their average shower time by five minutes, going from 15 minute showers to ten.
But I don’t want to!
The students found that coordinating this competition had some challenges. These included recruiting participants and making sure that everyone submitted accurate data. They visited classrooms often to remind everyone to take part. One class seemed to be submitting false data, and the students actually threatened to disqualify them!
Our students thought that this was a great project to work on within their school and would like to expand it in the future. They would like to include the rest of the school, or maybe even their district! They all acknowledged that there is a lot of potential in changing the habits of high school students, and with their input we can make a significant impact on the way Ann Arbor views water.
Ever think about the water and energy connection?
These six Skyline High School students sure do. They recently worked with HRWC to produce two great videos about the Huron River watershed and how saving water saves energy!
Pat Jenkins, the teacher in charge of the Communications, Media and Public Policy magnet, approached HRWC last summer with the goal of having these students work directly with the organization on specific issues. This group chose to work with HRWC on the “Saving Water Saves Energy” program – above other options!
Each student had their own reasons for choosing HRWC. Nivetha, who was already passionate about environmental issues, thought that it would be a good way to get involved with and change the local environment. She wanted to raise awareness about the problems our community faces in terms of water usage. Eric, on the other hand, had no prior knowledge of water use or conservation issues. This gave him the opportunity to learn more about it. The group had some experience with energy conservation projects, but had never specifically thought about water conservation or the relationship between water and energy.
The group first decided that their goal for the videos was to raise public awareness about the water issues in Ann Arbor, and to provide solutions that everyone could use. They particularly wanted to target high school students as their audience. So how do you do that, you may ask?
For “Saving Water Saves Energy,” the CMPP students took a clever approach by including HRWC’s H2O Hero. Each student dressed up in the hero costume throughout the video in order to show that if they can do it, you can do it! They demonstrated making easy, small changes at home that have a big impact in the community. Their video can be found here.
Okay, so – what exactly is a watershed? That’s what our students got to figure out while producing their second video. Through doing research and participating in River Roundup, they saw the term “watershed” shift from an abstract concept to a very specific one. They learned what it is, and what role it plays in our ecological system and our own drinking water. “What is a Watershed” featured students from multiple high schools in the area. So, you recognize your friend in the video? Hey, maybe you’ll want to learn what a watershed is, too! The video can be found here.
Let’s get dirty!
In order to get a better understanding of the issue and HRWC as an organization, the students participated in multiple events outside of school. They went to an HRWC River Roundup and a bug identification day, and said that both were great experiences. For River Roundup, they accidentally drove in the wrong direction – for 40 miles! Once they got to the stream monitoring site, the girls weren’t too keen on touching a bunch of bugs. The boys did the dirty work while the girls kept track of exactly how many bugs they found.
Maybe I should stop taking those 45 minute showers…
Before working on this project, Nivetha was always aware that she should probably be taking shorter showers. But that’s okay, right? After producing two videos on water conservation, she had a very different perspective. Now, she is actually motivated to follow her own advice! She felt that participating in River Roundup really helped the message hit home. She saw the source of her own drinking water in front of her and understood that she needed to take better care of it. The other students also felt that they have been conserving more water lately than they did before participating in the project with HRWC.
So if it changed their behaviors, what about their friends or family? According to the students, friends were not that into it. However, their families were! Diana said her family was easy to nag and remind them to be water and energy conscious. In her house they actively try to cut down on dishwashing and laundry loads.
The main consensus of producing the videos was positive. The students really enjoyed making them because they were in charge of everything – whether it was acting, directing, or editing. They played every role! Plus, they got to dress up in the H2O hero costume. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Grand Opening Celebration, Saturday, June 22, 5:30 to 8pm.
The City of Ann Arbor, in partnership with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, recently completed a streambank stabilization project on Traver Creek,
extending through the Leslie Park Golf Course. The project corrected severe streambank erosion and addressed high volumes of sediment and attached pollutants that were being removed and deposited downstream.
This project is a partnership between the city and the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office. Departments within the city that worked collaboratively include Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation, Natural Area Preservation and Water Quality Management.
The scope of this project included Traver Creek being regraded, stabilized and naturalized. This project will alleviate downstream flooding, and address bank erosion as well as reduction of the phosphorus load in Traver Creek, tributary to the Huron River. In addition, there was an opportunity to create an area with native wetland plantings to establish an inline constructed wetland. Constructed wetlands are one of the best methods for pollutant removal, mitigation of peak flow rates and even reduce runoff volumes. They also can provide considerable aesthetic and wildlife benefits.
Interesting project-related facts:
- Length of channel: 3,300 feet
- Earth moved: 30,000 cubic yards
- Native Area/Wetland created: 6.5 acres
- Native restoration: 10.2 acres
- Erosion prevented: 687 tons annually
- Native trees planted: 79
- Native shrubs planted: 347
- Species of wildflower seed planted: over 50
- Daylighted/reestablished the Arrowwood branch of the Traver Creek
- Aquatic habitat structures installed to create riffles and runs
- Approximately $865,000 received in grant funding for water quality improvements
Flooding and bank erosion not only affect water quality, but increase golf course maintenance and sometimes limit golf play. For these reasons, the project was designed to help stabilize the creek channel and increase the drainage capacity of Traver Creek on Leslie Park Golf Course. The ponds on holes 12 and 17 were reconfigured to slow runoff that occurs after a rainstorm and will help capture sediment.
HRWC staff and volunteers conducted water quality monitoring prior to and during construction. We plan to continue monitoring for the coming 3-5 years to determine effectiveness of the project. Prior to the project, it was determined that the section of creek being repaired was releasing 48% more phosphorus than upstream and 200% more than downstream sections. Also, HRWC volunteers, along with Leslie Science and Nature Center camp youth conducted benthic macroinvertebrate evaluation, temperature study, and water chemistry analysis.
The public is invited to see and learn how the improvements benefit water quality, the environment, and enhance the golfing experience at the award winning Leslie Park Golf Course. The grand opening event takes place Saturday, June 22, 5:30 to 8 p.m. and will feature tours, games, and refreshments will be served.
We share your connection to the Huron River. HRWC wants to hear your concerns and help you protect your property and the river. HRWC’s Executive Director Laura Rubin will facilitate a series of conversations and answer resident’s questions. Working together in the watershed, works for all of us. Please join us at one of our community conversations dedicated to residents who live at the water’s edge.
Thursday May 30, 7pm, Ypsilanti Township Civic Center, 7200 S Huron River Dr, Ypsilanti
Tuesday June 11, 7pm, Dexter District Library, 3255 Alpine St, Dexter
Wednesday, June 12, 7pm, Commerce Township Hall, 2009 Township Dr, Commerce
Topics of discussion: Shoreline, Recreation, Landscape, Water Quality and Quantity, River Access, Habitat, Flooding, Watershed Restoration, Property Values, Riparian Education and Stewardship.
RSVP and questions: Contact Margaret Smith at email@example.com or (734)769-5123 x 605.