In this edition of News to Us, read up on recent strides in local water and land protection efforts, including a land conservation acquisition in Scio Township, new money for water quality monitoring at Oakland County beaches, changes to a roadside herbicide spraying program in Washtenaw County, and the dismissal of a challenge to Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule. Also included is the latest developments on a federal rollback of the Endangered Species Act.

A whooping crane seen with its wing spread along with three sandhill cranes.
A whooping crane, seen with spread wings, is among the dozens of species now at further risk due to the rollback of the Endangered Species Act. Photo credit: Jim Hudgins/USFWS

U.S. significantly weakens Endangered Species Act

On Monday, the Trump Administration announced it has finalized its proposed rollback of the Endangered Species Act. These new proposals, which significantly weakens one of the United States’ landmark conservation laws, makes it easier to delist endangered species and more difficult to protect their habitat and populations.

Another important step for land preservation in Scio Township

Scio Township recently finalized a $2.3 million land conservation acquisition to protect a 160-acre property within the Honey creekshed of the Huron River watershed. The acquisition, made possible by Scio Township’s land preservation millage, requires any future landowners to maintain the property as green space. Thank you to the Township’s Land Preservation Commission for advancing this important land protection effort.

Oakland County receives help from state to enhance water quality monitoring efforts

The Oakland County Health Division has received a $66,925 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to implement it’s beach water quality monitoring program. Oakland County will use the funding to detect E. coli, provide timely results to the public, and identify sources of contamination at selected beaches.

Michigan’s lead rules allowed to stand after lawsuit, judge rules

Statewide lead and copper drinking water regulations, implemented following the Flint drinking water crisis, were ruled valid by a Michigan judge. A lawsuit to Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule, filed by a suite of southeast Michigan municipalities and water utilities, argued the rule’s mandates fail to consider affordability and funding.

July was the hottest month in recorded history

This past July was officially the hottest month in recorded history as announced by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Programme. Fueled by record-breaking heat waves across the globe, July 2019 was 0.07 degree Fahrenheit (0.04 Celsius) warmer than the previous record holder of July 2016. With the scorching July temperatures, 2019 is on track to be among the top three hottest years on record.

Washtenaw County Road Commission ends herbicide spraying

The Washtenaw County Road Commission Board voted unanimously on July 16th to end their roadside herbicide use, largely due to growing public concern over possible impacts on water resources. The Road Commission will continue mowing, but rural county roads in Lyndon, Dexter, Webster, Sylvan, and Lima Townships will no longer be sprayed with herbicide to control vegetation.