Posts Tagged ‘Restoration’

Follow the Huron River Water Trail to adventure . . .

Try Fishing a Stretch of the Huron’s Productive Waters


I love to explore the watershed and hunt for fish habitat. The Huron River watershed is full of great habitat for a variety of species including sport fishes like small and large-mouth bass, rock bass, perch, steelhead, walleye and pike, and many other unique and diverse species. I like to fly fish the river and some of the larger tributaries for bass because bass are aggressive predators and strong fighters and I enjoy trying to mimic their prey. I am getting better at actually catching them, and our productive river is a good teacher with its wide gentle flow and lots of good hidey holes for big and small fish alike. Mostly, I just like the peaceful time to stand in the flow and take in the sights and sounds of life along the river.

Fly fish the Huron River.

Fly fish the Huron River.

Now that my kids are bigger, I have started taking each of them along with me. Both enjoy different aspects of the experience. Foster likes to think like a fish, while Ally likes being in the water and perfecting her casting skill.

One of our favorite places to fish is along Riverside Park in Ypsilanti. The river is wide there and fairly easy to navigate. We usually start by paying a visit to Schultz Outfitters to get the low down on river conditions and what the fish are feeding on. They have lots of great flies to fill our bait boxes as well. This stretch of the river has LOTS of bass! Most of them are on the small side, but since the RiverUp! restoration project was completed, the guides have been seeing some larger catch.

Ally with her first lake fish

Ally with her first lake fish

There are other great places to fish along the river. There is really good lake fishing in many of the in-line lakes throughout the watershed, and many river runs near Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, and Flat Rock. One of our most memorable times was when my wife caught her first fish while we were canoeing upstream of Barton Pond. She was so excited that she screamed and frightened then 2-year-old Ally.

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! 

Huron River Appreciation Day is sponsored by TOYOTA.

Geomorphologists Assemble!

HRWC recently hosted the first Michigan Aquatic Restoration Conference (MARC) with partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources, as well as business sponsors Stantec, North State Environmental, Inter-Fluve, and Spicer Group. Located at the retreat setting of the Kettunen Center, the MARC brought together over 120 agency and academic scientists and engineers and industry professionals from all over Michigan as well as several other Great Lakes states. Much of the conference focused on geomorphology, or the study of the processes that shape a river channel and produce the habitat that exists in its present state.

Studying the Pine River

Participants visited the Pine River to study a recent restoration effort.

The MARC was led off with a workshop on “Woody Debris Management” by one of the founding fathers of geomorphology, Dr. David Rosgen from Wildland Hydrology. He also provided a keynote presentation on lessons he has learned from more than two decades of stream restoration work. National restoration expert Will Harman from Stream Mechanics discussed a popular conceptual framework he developed — the “Functional Pyramid” — and discussed how restoration practitioners should seek to provide rivers and streams with “functional lift.”

Other presentations and discussions focused on the various and sundry nuances of stream restoration in practice throughout Michigan, the Great Lakes region, and parts south and west. There was a genuine excitement in the air throughout the conference as participants engaged in vibrant discussion about how to apply principles (some theoretical at this point) to stream restoration, in what is a relatively new applied science.

Local TV news coverage of the MARC

If you missed the conference this year, check out the MARC website for a sampling of the presentations and discussions, and keep your eye out for an announcement of the next iteration.

Honey Creek Plan Released

HRWC recently received final approval to release a new watershed management plan to address impairments in Honey Creek, a tributary to the Huron River in Scio Township. The creek is identified as “impaired” by the state Department of Environmental Quality because water samples routinely show levels of bacteria above the state’s water quality standards.

Target areas for reducing bacteria contamination in Honey Creek

Target areas for reducing bacteria contamination in Honey Creek

HRWC developed the plan in consultation with partner organizations and stakeholders in the watershed following two years of extensive study. The study included sampling throughout the creek watershed, genetic “fingerprinting” of bacteria source animals, as well as in-stream and neighborhood surveys. Overall, the study helped to identify a few critical areas of possible septic contamination and it eliminated as problem areas some other parts of the watershed. Beyond septic sources, HRWC identified pet waste, livestock waste (e.g. horses and chickens), and manure application as sources of bacteria.

Key recommendations in the plan include:

  • Identification of specific septic sources, elimination of illegal connections to the creek and remediation of failing septic systems;
  • Establishment of an ordinance in Scio Township requiring the removal of pet waste combined with the installation of pet waste stations at key locations;
  • Targeted agricultural funding in the creekshed for manure and nutrient management, animal exclusion from waterways, and the restoration of stream buffers and wetlands; and
  • Education throughout the creekshed on issues contributing to bacteria contamination.

HRWC is working with partner organizations like Scio Township, the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, Washtenaw County Environmental Health, and the Washtenaw County Conservation District to raise funding to implement plan activities in 2015 and beyond.

News to Us


**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.**

Kayakers enjoy the Huron at Gallup Park

Kayakers enjoy the Huron at Gallup Park

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.

Volunteer! It May Be Good For Your Health — Researchers find a connection between volunteering, longevity and mental well-being. Volunteer with HRWC for the upcoming October 12 River Roundup!

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.

HRWC Kicks off Bioreserve Field Season

Emma Maack, Ingrid Weisz, Becky Gajewski, and Robert Finn enjoy a sunny day at Huron Meadows

Emma Maack, Ingrid Weisz, Becky Gajewski, and Robert Finn enjoy a sunny day at Huron Meadows

A team of volunteers and staff from HRWC and the Huron Clinton Metroparks found over 80 different species of wildflowers, trees, and grasses on just under a mile-long stretch through a 100-acre portion of Huron Meadows Metropark recently.  The metropark, one of 10 that run along the Huron River for much of its length, is home to 1,000 acres of upland forest, wooded swamp, grassland, fens, and wet meadows, as well as the Huron River itself, which makes it a great destination for hikers in the summer and cross country skiers in the winter.

This summer, HRWC’s bioreserve project is leading field assessments on Metropark properties, as well as properties local land conservancies are working on protecting, in order to provide the Metroparks and conservancies with detailed ecological information to aid in their management and preservation efforts.

The field assessment for Huron Meadows will help Metroparks staff target invasive control efforts in the natural areas within the parks.  For instance, the team found a large wetland complex on the west side of their survey area that flowed beyond the park to border Ore Lake.  While high quality, the wetland would benefit from a glossy buckthorn control effort on its southern side, but was mostly free of invasives to the north.  The team also discovered several vernal ponds pocketed in low lying areas within the oak-hickory forest hills that are most likely great habitat for frogs and salamanders.

A walk in the park…County Farm Park

CFP enteranceThis past Wednesday we hosted our first guided nature walk of the summer. With the help of Washtenaw County’s Environmental Manager, Harry Sheehan, we learned of the efforts to restore Malletts Creek. The project will improve water quality and habitat while maintaining safe, stable drainage throughout the Malletts Creek basin.

The location for our walk was County Farm Park in Ann Arbor. The restoration in County Farm Park was a part of a larger project to protect Malletts Creek and the Huron River. The watershed of Malletts Creek drains a majority of south and southwest Ann Arbor, and is a large source of phosphorus inputs and high flows.  The restoration was targeted to reduce stormwater flows and phosphorus inputs. The walk was very informative, and it was exciting to see the results of the project in person. If you haven’t visited County Farm Park in a while, make sure do to so. The park contains community gardens, hiking trails, and a very modern play area for children.

We have two more guided nature walks planned this summer:

Saturday, June 22 at 10 AM, Lower Huron Metro Park, Paw Paw Nature Trail, Belleville, MI

Tuesday, July 9 at 5:30 PM, Mill Creek Park, corner of Main St. and Jeffords, Dexter, MI

Free, all ages. Registration required.

For more information on these events and others click HERE.

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side

A tantalizing copse of tamarack grow out beyond the lily pads - good indicators of a fen or bog ecosystem.

HRWC’s Bioreserve project field assessment volunteers have witnessed some pretty spectacular landscapes so far this field season! This includes extensive marsh and fen ecosystems in Lyndon Township and south of West Lake in Dexter Township.  Volunteers are even taking their ipads out in the field to help with plant identification!

The field assessors are gathering data about natural areas in order to educate landowners about the ecological quality of their property and help conservancies and communities target their preservation efforts towards the most important natural areas.

For more information about the Bioreserve project, and if you’d like to join our field assessors, contact Kris Olsson

If you are a “Plant Person,” who can identify most wildflower, shrub, and tree species in a typical Michigan forest or wetland, we could especially use your help and expertise!  You can join teams of assessors on these fun forays into the “wilderness!”

Volunteers Don Jacobson and Caryn Flowers use Caryn's ipad to ID a mystery plant.

Volunteer Sally Rutzky wades through a sedge meadow, part of a large wetland complex in Lyndon Township.

Traver Creek to get “Bank Lift”

A section of Traver Creek that runs through Leslie Park Golf Course in Ann Arbor will be reconstructed later this year to improve and restore many of its natural features. The City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner are funding the project to address a section of the creek that has eroded over time.

Vision for reconstruction of Traver Creek

Vision for reconstruction of Traver Creek

The project partners are holding a public event to discuss the draft design tonight, nurse April 30 at 7:30 pm at the Leslie Science Center. The meeting is open to all.

The project will also reconstruct portions of ponds at either end of the creek section. Those ponds will be deepened to provide more rainwater storage capacity and be redesigned to provide sediment settling areas.

Eroded stream banks will be reshaped and repaired, pills and a new floodplain area will be created along a portion of the creek. This “two-stage” design provides streamside wetlands that slow flood waters down and filter out nutrients and pollutants. Additional wetland areas will also be recreated where there is evidence of their previous existence. The wetlands provide further stormwater filtration capacity as well as wildlife habitat. A secondary stream channel will also be re-established where it used to run prior to construction of the golf course. The whole project will be vegetated with native plant materials.

The project will begin following the end of the golf season and should be mostly completed by the spring start of the 2013 golf season. HRWC are monitoring the site before and after construction to measure its impact. Benefits should include runoff volume, healing phosphorus and sediment reductions to address problems identified in watershed management plans.

City of Ann Arbor Passes Millers Creek Plan

Eroding banks of Millers Creek

Millers Creek has severely eroding banks.

On March 21, viagra sale the Ann Arbor City Council passed the Millers Creek watershed management plan showing the City’s commitment to this watershed and their support for the actions needed to protect and restore it.  The plan sets a roadmap for actions to reduce the high flows in the creek, pharm reduce excessive sedimentation and nutrient input and to engage the residents and businesses in the watershed in these efforts.

As reported by The Ann Arbor Chronicle:

Scott Dierks gave a presentation to the council on the background for the Millers Creek improvement plan, which the council was asked to adopt by resolution later in the meeting. Dierks introduced himself as representing the Huron River Watershed Council, as a member and volunteer. He described Millers Creek as one of six creeksheds in the city, covering about 2.5 square miles in the vicinity of Plymouth and Huron Parkway. The creekshed drains to the Huron River.

He traced the origin of the improvement plan back to 1992 as a grassroots effort by Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM). ERIM had reached out to the HRWC and to the landscape design firm Peter Pollack & Associates. That eventually led to a Pfizer-funded effort in 2003-04, to develop an improvement plan, which made specific recommendations in light of current and future land use in the creekshed. The plan was approved by the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Millers Creek watershed improvement plan is still used as an example of good watershed planning by the EPA, and is accessible through the EPA’s website, Dierks said.

Jump to The Ann Arbor Chronicle for the rest of the story.

Land Preservation Helps Huron River Watershed

HRWC worked to draft, pass, and implement the City of Ann Arbor’s Greenbelt program along with supporting other natural area and farmland preservation programs in the watershed.  Having served as a commissioner since the beginning of the program, I have seen the program grow in scale, scope, and matching dollars.  It is tremendous to see the high quality natural areas and farmland, local farms, and riparian areas permanently protected and contributing to better water quality in the Huron River Watershed.

2010 was the busiest year yet for the City of Ann Arbor’s Greenbelt Commission’s efforts in land preservation.  Just this past month, the city completed 3 easements (Honke, Whitney and Clark) and partnered with Ann Arbor Township on 2 more properties (Pardon and Thomas Braun).

With the completion of these deals, the Greenbelt has protected a total of 2,802 acres.  This year alone, the Greenbelt, along with Washtenaw County partners, have protected 1,017 acres of farmland on 9 properties within the Greenbelt District.  These deals have included over $3.34 million from the Federal Farm and  Ranchland Protection Program, $2.42 million from our Washtenaw County partners, and over $90,000 in landowner donations.  On average, the City of Ann Arbor paid 43% of the Fair Market Value for deals completed this year – or secured 57% matching funds on average.  In addition, the Greenbelt has protected 1,182 acres in Webster Township and 826 acres in Ann Arbor Township – almost two 1,000-acre blocks completed. Below is a map which shows the deals completed to date, highlighting those completed this year.

See a bigger version of the picture below by clicking on it or downloading it as a pdf.

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