Dive into our April News to Us to learn about what’s hiding in a vernal pool near you! This month’s edition also provides the latest updates on Michigan’s fish consumption advisories, statewide polluter pay legislation, and the 1,4-dioxane cleanup near Ann Arbor.

Frogs, salamanders, and fairy shrimp are appearing at a vernal pool near you

Scientists observe a “breeding ball” of spotted salamanders at a vernal pool near Ann Arbor. Photo credit: Lester Graham, Michigan Radio

During springtime, forests are home to small pools of water rich with critters, including bugs, snakes, frogs, salamanders, and even tiny shrimp. These abundant yet ephemeral pools, called vernal pools, are important breeding habitats for Michigan’s bugs, amphibians, vertebrates, and other key indicator species. Local conservation groups, government agencies, scientists, and nonprofits are joining forces via the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership to ” increase awareness, understanding and protection of vernal pools through conservation, research and mapping, education and outreach, and collaboration.”

Amid human health fears over PFAS, Michigan weighs new fish guidance
As new research continues to underscore the health risks associated with PFAS compounds, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is eyeing potential expansion of  fish consumption advisories across the state. Many human and environmental health advocates are concerned the MDHHS guidelines are based on outdated science, prompting MDHHS to review the latest research and update advisories accordingly. For more information on PFAS contamination in Southeast Michigan fish, read a recent study by the HRWC and local partners.

Milford DDA plans to remake Central Park with riverfront boardwalk, more
The Village of Milford recently approved plans to improve Central Park located along the Huron River. The new improvements will add a perimeter walk along the Huron River as well as sheltered seating and new landscaping. Village officials hope the renovations will improve the aesthetics of the park and connectivity between two areas of the downtown Milford. In total, the DDA and the Village will be investing nearly $1.5 million in Central Park improvements. For more information about water recreation and paddling opportunities in the Huron River Trail Town of Milford, visit the Huron River Water Trail website.

In Michigan, polluter liability can be elusive but reforms are in the wind
Michigan elected officials are developing new legislation to hold polluters accountable. Also called “polluter pay,” the proposed law would require entities that cause pollution or benefit from polluted property to pay for environmental clean up rather than taxpayers. The bills have not been introduced into the Michigan House or Senate, however, many legislators are optimistic that the time is right for adopting new safeguards to Michigan’s water, air, and land especially after last summer’s hexavalent chromium spill. Click here to read about HRWC’s 2023 policy priorities, which incudes polluter pay legislation.

Michigan attorney general announces new plan for Ann Arbor dioxane plume
In late March, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and Gelman Sciences reached a new consent judgement to address the 1,4-dioxane plume within the Huron River watershed near Ann Arbor. The consent judgement, which outlines terms for cleaning up and monitoring the plume, will now go before the Washtenaw County Circuit Court for approval on April 20th. According to new reporting from WEMU, some stakeholders, including the City of Ann Arbor, feel the new consent judgement leaves much to be desired. HRWC and other intervenors were not part of these negotiations due to a decision at the appeals court last summer. Overall the new consent judgment is a significant improvement over the one it is replacing but is not as aggressive as we had been advocating for. HRWC will continue to track the cleanup closely and work with our municipal partners to demand vigilance as EGLE and Gelman Sciences implement the new cleanup plan.

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