Kris Olsson presenting a green infrastructure map to Dexter Township Planning Commission.  Credit: Nathaniel Siddall/For Heritage Media
Kris Olsson presenting a green infrastructure map to Dexter Township Planning Commission. Credit: Nathaniel Siddall/For Heritage Media

This edition of News to Us highlights some shifting sands in the State and watershed that could have negative implications for water resources in the Huron.  At the same time, local action is leading to protections for our natural areas and communities in Dexter Township and Ann Arbor.  Finally, learn about an interesting new application of crowdsourcing to monitor water levels.

Michigan in danger of losing wetlands permitting program: Just signed by the Governor!
New legislation (SB 163) is being put in front of Governor Snyder that would weaken protections on Michigan wetlands.  HRWC has signed on to a letter opposing the bill.  Wetlands are extremely important in maintaining the water quality of the Huron River and Great Lakes and provide valuable services to communities across the state. We think the bill fails to comply with the federal Clean Water Act in a number of important ways.  In addition, many of the changes unnecessarily increase program costs and reduce revenue being raised from those parties that utilize and benefit from the program. Our 3 main concerns are the creation of exemptions that will jeopardize the program assumption, mitigation issues, and the contiguous language.

Highland to host ‘fracking’ meeting
We have been keeping our eye on the issue of the use of new fracking methods to extract natural gas in the State of Michigan.  The deeper horizontal wells require a large volume of water and has the potential to contaminate ground water sources with the chemicals used in the process.  To date, fracking has been a bigger threat in other parts of the state. This articles shares that new state-issued oil and gas drilling leases in Oakland County are opening up thousands of acres to exploration, extraction and possibly fracking.  The County is hosting a series of public meetings on the issue.  Many residents and the County itself are concerned about the threat.  Some areas cited for exploration are in the headwaters of the Huron River.

DEXTER: Township adopts green infrastructure map
Last week Dexter Township was presented with a Green Infrastructure map developed by HRWC and Township officials and residents earlier this year.  The map captures the natural areas in the township that provide many benefits to the community, wildlife and water resources. The map was adopted by the township planning commission and can be used to inform master planning and ordinance development.  This is part of a larger effort at HRWC to protect the quality of the Portage Creekshed.  Learn more about the program here.

Transforming adversity into opportunity: Bringing resiliency to every community in America
Ann Arbor is one of 50 inaugural signatories on the Resilient Communities for America Agreement in which leaders pledge to take actions that create cities and towns more resilient to the impacts of climate change.  Congratulations on being a leader in climate resiliency by making a local commitment to minimize the risk and impacts of extreme weather events and energy challenges.

There are 7 places in Michigan where you can text data to scientists
HRWC collects water level data at many locations throughout the watershed but we could always use more.  Here is a fun, citizen-driven solution to getting more data about the status of our streams and rivers.  CrowdHydrology allows citizen to text water level measurements to a central database for further analysis.  What do you think? Would you participate?