Summer is here and we’re ready for some fun! Our June News to Us touches on a few things to look for as you head outdoors to recreate such as PFAS foam, algal blooms, and ticks. Other articles below highlight the work of watershed councils by Great Lakes Now, recent discoveries on microplastics in stormwater and new plans for Great Lakes habitat restoration.

A new report from the National Audubon Society provides the blueprint for habitat restoration of birds across the Great Lakes, such as the Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) seen above. Photo credit: National Audubon Society

Big Convener: Watershed councils provide critical support across municipal boundaries
HRWC and the Huron River enjoyed some coverage from Great Lakes Now Senior Correspondent Gary Wilson. He recently talked with HRWC’s executive director Rebecca Esselman on a range of topics, including the unique role watershed councils play in conservation of water and land across municipal boundaries. PFAS and preventing pollution from chemicals were also part of the discussion.

To help the birds, nonprofit organization looks to Great Lakes habitats
A new report by the National Audubon Society outlines plans for wetland and coastal conservation across the Great Lakes. Restoring the Great Lakes for Birds and People addresses threats to bird populations such as climate change, coastal development, and invasive species. Priority restoration projects outlined include a few near the mouth of the Huron River at Pointe Mouillee State Game Area and Lake Erie Metropark.

Stormwater could be a large source of microplastics and rubber fragments to waterways
A recently released study from the University of Toronto and the San Francisco Estuary Institute reveals stormwater can be a large source of microplastics in waterways. As rain falls on surfaces, microplastics are dislodged and carried away by stormwater and often discharged into nearby wetlands, creeks, or rivers. Also noted—rain gardens can capture 91 to 98 percent of the microplastics from stormwater.

Michiganders again advised to avoid foam on lakes & rivers
Now that the heat of the summer has arrived, more and more Huron River residents are looking to get in, on and near the river. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services continues to remind residents to avoid contact with river foam. Given some foams can accumulate high levels of PFAS, recommendations include avoiding contact with foam and rinsing it off if contact is made. HRWC has several resources. See our PFAS and Recreation on the Huron River blog and our Field Day Fridays Instagram posts for more information.

2021 Lake Erie harmful algal bloom prediction: smaller but more severe
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict the 2021 harmful algal bloom along Lake Erie’s western basin will be smaller than average. However, they also note that the bloom maybe be more severe than last year, up to a rating of 6 out of 10 from that last year’s bloom of 3. The western basin of Lake Erie, to which the Huron River drains, is annually plagued by algal blooms, which are overgrowths of algae or bacteria that produce dangerous toxins in water.

Rise in Midwest tick-borne disease due to climate change
In the most comprehensive Midwest study on ticks to date, University of Missouri researchers aim to better understand the threat of tick-borne disease. The study attributes the risk in the number and severity of tick-borne diseases to a suite of factors, including suburbanization, increased popularity of outdoor activities, climate change, and the rise in white-tailed deer populations. For more on ticks, read a recent HRWC blog post about the role of wildlife in limiting ticks or tips on protecting yourself from ticks and Lyme Disease.