Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coast Guard launches "Paddles Up Great Lakes" campaign

"Paddles Up Great Lakes"  is an educational outreach campaign aimed at raising safe boating awareness among the region's paddlesports community.



Monday, August 30, 2010

Another successful clean-up maintenance day on the Shiawassee River

HeadWatersTrails / Keepers of the Shiawassee  had a very productive river-cleanup day Sunday August 29th.

With a crew of 20 people pitching in personal gear along with canoes from  Fairbanks Canoes & Kayaks;
a good deal of trash and deadfall woody debris was removed from the Shiawassee River.
Low water levels made for tough paddling conditions but allowed for easier chainsaw access to fallen trees.
Many, many thanks to Karen Monetta who graciously fed the crew back at her house after a very long day on the water.

I'll attach pictures as they filter in during the week.  Everyone was just plain beat and went to bed very late last night.
Many had to go into work this Monday morning.
Uploading photos from cell phones, cameras, etc. was just not happening from anyone until they got some rest and recovered.

Volunteers make it all happen ! They are the ones who have made the river into a beautiful paddling destination.

 Keepers of the Shiawassee  - and HeadWatersTrails     - are a great way to help out


Sunday, August 29, 2010

$500,000 grant for Shiawassee River project

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 12:00 pm

The Shiawassee River is about to get a little healthier thanks to a hefty dose of federal funds.
The Shiawassee Conservation District recently received a $500,000 grant from the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil and Sediment Control, a program through the Great Lakes Commission, to fund the Mid-Shiawassee River Watershed Sediment Reduction Project — a three-year program that will focus on reducing sediment erosion into the Shiawassee River.
“I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the Shiawassee Conservation District in obtaining this prestigious grant,” State Rep. Richard Ball stated in a press release. “I am very excited to see their efforts in addressing these natural resource concerns in the Shiawassee River Watershed and improving Michigan’s Great Lakes.”
The Mid-Shiawassee River Watershed Sediment Reduction Project will focus on areas along the Mid-Shiawassee River Watershed that are known contributors of significant amounts of sediment into the river. The Shiawassee Conservation District will be working with a private landowner, the Shiawassee County Drain Commission and the city of Owosso in tackling three large-scale stream bank stabilization projects in tributaries that directly contribute water to the Shiawassee River, said Andrea Berry, Watershed Technician with the Shiawassee Conservation District.
Berry added many of these area drainage sites were installed years ago with the intention of getting water out of the area as quickly as possible, but unintended side effects such as soil erosion have occurred overtime.
“They’re losing soil and causing sediment to go over to the river,” Berry said. “The reason why that’s bad is because sediment can have different toxins attached to it like oils, chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers...and that becomes attached to the sediment and that is then delivered downstream to the river. And it effects fish and wildlife habitat and also can effect water quality so that the water isn’t safe for people to use.”
Additionally, the district plans to work with Baker College to do an educational project focusing on making the college’s storm water retention pond a more efficient system, Berry said.
The Mid-Shiawassee River Watershed Sediment Reduction Project will also include an investigational incentive program involving the application of a powder called gypsum on soil to encourage water infiltration in clay-based agricultural soils and, in turn, reduce soil loss, according to the press release.
“We’re really only focusing on 1,500 acres and working with partners to get the use of gypsum on these fields,” Berry said. “The application of gypsum to clay soil increases infiltration potential resulting in less runoff and therefore less soil loss from the field.”
Planning for the projects will begin in October, but implementation of the projects won’t begin until Spring 2011 at the earliest, Berry said. A kick-off event for the project is also scheduled for October, and the public will be invited.
Berry added the Shiawassee River has a long history of pollution-related issues, and reducing sediment erosion and polluted water runoff is just another part of making the river and other waterways in the county more healthy.
“By having a cleaner and healthier river, people will be able to use it more and not have the risks (associated with polluted water),” Berry said, adding cleaning up the pollutants in the river can better fish and wild life habitat, as well as improve people’s perception of the river, increase tourism in the area and  better the local economy. “The river is a big part of Shiawassee County and having these practices and this program addressing issues that have been ongoing for years and years will help to improve the quality of, not only the river, but the tributaries of the Shiawassee River...In downstream areas, it all ends up in the Great Lakes. So not only are we improving our community, but we’re improving communities all along the river and throughout the Great Lakes Basin.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CleanUp - Sunday August 29, 2010 at 9am Waterworks Park Holly MI

Headwaters Trails will be having a cleanup of the Shiawassee River on Sunday August 29, 2010.

We will meet in Holly at Waterworks Park on Broad Street at 9:00 am and go till 4 pm.

We plan to first clean the stretch of River between Bush Park and Torrey Road then jump to the section between McCaslin Lake Road and Bird Road in Argentine Township.  That section of the river had many trees down in it with some log jambs.  We cleaned out much of that on August 15th.  Now we need to complete that section and maybe go on below Bird Road.  Rex and Maggie suggest that we start at Torrey Road and work up stream due to the low water.  We could then go to get the blockage just below McCaslin Lake Road starting from McCaslin Lake Road, then pull out again at McCaslin Lake Road and move on down to Bird Road to go down stream.   

With this, the river will be open from Waterworks Park to Bird Road in Argentine. 
We will only have two more miles to go to get to the Byron Mill Pond.

Please join us if you are able to.
We need people with chain saws as well as boats to transport those saws and other supplies on the river. 
You are still welcome and encouraged to come along even if you have neither.  Once the trees are cut, they need to be anchored along the banks to provide shore protection and fish habitat.  We will also pick up any trash we are able to.

Wear shoes or boots that you don't mind getting wet.  A hat and safety glasses are also a good idea. 

We plan to work on the river rain or shine. 

Call me if you have any questions.
I would also appreciate knowing if we should be expecting you to come by email or phone.

My home phone number is 248-634-3513.
If I am not home, leave a message on the machine and I will get back to you.

If you are not able to come for the full day, please call me on my cell phone when you are ready to leave
and I can tell you where to meet us.
248-866-3069.  Normally, my home phone is best.  I leave the cell phone in my car.

We had a great time with a great group of people on August 15th.
I hope you can make it to help us out again.

Chuck Julian

Waterworks Park is in Holly, MI.

Torry Road crosses the river just below Long Lake Road.  We would park in an unused
parking lot on Long Lake Road.

Bird Road Bridge is on Bird Road just north of Silver Lake Rd. in Argentine Township.  If you take
Silver Lake out of Fenton, go through Linden.  The next town is Argentine.  Bird road is west
of town.  McCaslin Lake Road is between the town of Argentine and Bird Road.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CleanUps: Volunteers make it all happen

A group of us attacked the debris in the river between McCaslin Lake Rd. and Bird road.  We got a lot done and had a good time at it.  Steve Hoffman thinks that there is only one major blockage in the river left in that stretch.  It is near McCaslin.  We started at Bird and worked our way up stream.  We also cleaned out the debris between Water Works Park and Fish Lake Road.  We started at 9 and finished at 6.  We could have used a couple of more canoes.  That flat bottom boat is a bear to paddle.  After that, some of us went to Maggie's house and she fed us.  I had to leave early because my legs were cramping from walking in the river.  There is more to be done down stream from Bird Road.  That will have to wait for another time.  I'm sure we will talk about it this Thursday at O'Mally's.  We would have finished that last blockage but we didn't want you to feel left out.  : )  Maggie did not find volunteers to clean out the section from Bush Park to US-23.  We will also need to tackle that.  The water was quite low, so we didn't have trouble reaching any of the trees and they weren't too far under water to make them impossible to cut.  There is also a lot more trash in the river.  We brought all we could carry.  We used the plastic wedges when cutting trees suspended over the river.  That worked really well.  The hard part was finding the wedges after the log dropped in the river.  We had to wait for the water to clear.  The water was also really warm.  We encountered a snake swimming in the river and after looking at photos on the web, I think it was a northern water snake.  There were several small mouth bass swimming near the bridge.  We thought they might be trout, but a fellow living on the river assured us that they were small mouth bass.  They were only around ten inches long.  With the condition of the river, I doubt that very many people have fished that stretch.  Four of the people who promised to come, didn't show up but we still had enough people, six guys, two women and two teens.  We only drowned one chainsaw, when Rex cut a limb, got the saw stuck in it and then dropped it in the river.  It didn't appear to be damaged, just full of water.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Corunna seeks hearing with state over dam

Corunna seeks hearing with state over dam

Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 12:00 pm

By JULIANNE MATTERA, Argus-Press Staff Writer | 1 comment

CORUNNA — Following a series of correspondence between the city and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment concerning the future of the Shiawassee River dam, the Corunna City Council voted Monday to set up an administrative appeal hearing with the DNRE over what to do with the aging dam.

“It’s part of the administrative procedures that we have to follow to protest. Next step is if we can go to circuit court we could sue the state. Not saying that we want to, not saying we’re going to, but it’s not even an option until we’ve done the first step,” City Manger Joe Sawyer said, adding he hopes the disagreement between the DNRE and the city will be resolved at the administrative hearing. “The lower level that we can resolve things at, the better obviously.”

There is no date scheduled for a hearing.

According to the Shiawassee history website, the Corunna dam was constructed in the mid-1800s to provide power for a grist mill. The dam consists of a 200-foot wide overflow spillway with a 25-foot wide stoplog bay section located adjacent to the right abutment (west side of river). The dam has a height of 10 feet, a normal head of 7 feet and creates an impoundment with a surface area of about 17 acres.

The dam has been the site of several drownings in the last 150 years. The most recent fatal drowning took place in 2008.

Since the DNRE ordered the city to draw down the Shiawassee River dam and address its deficiencies in December 2009, the city and the DNRE have mainly corresponded by letter in the process of trying to resolve what work the dam requires.

Relying on recent reports from engineer Gary Croskey and those from more than 30 years ago, the city felt allowing the dam to deteriorate naturally does not pose a hazard to homes downstream, Sawyer said. Conversely, a review by Croskey indicated a “draw down to the impoundment would create more hazards than it would alleviate,” Sawyer wrote in a letter to the DNRE.

Yet, the DNRE has repeated its order to draw down the dam and present the state with a long-term plan for repairing the structure, removing it or building rapids or a dam in its place, Sawyer said.

“Now the long-term plan, that part of it we really can’t address until after November because we have to know, ‘Do we have any financial wherewithal to replace, repair or to build?’” Sawyer said, referring to the city improvement millage appearing on the November ballot, which would allocate funds to repairing, improving or replace the dam. “The state, realistically, they know that a long-term plan is potentially a one-, two-, three-year process to get there.”

If residents vote against the millage during the November election, the city will lack the funding to repair the dam and will resort to the cheapest possible option, Sawyer said.

Speaking about the city’s most recent correspondence with the DNRE, Sawyer said the DNRE’s letter in July was “frustrating.”

After sending a letter to the DNRE in June including Croskey’s engineering analysis of the dam, as well as questions regarding the DNRE’s analysis of the dam and potential impacts of a draw-down, the city received a short letter from the DNRE in July requesting the city submit a plan and schedule for fixing the deteriorating dam.

“They seemed to ignore many of our questions and many of our concerns,” Sawyer said. “They seemed to just write them off. In one point in the letter they suggest that if we have these concerns, we should hire an engineer to evaluate them.”

But Byron Lane, chief of the dam safety program at the Michigan DNRE, said he felt the letter adequately addressed the city’s concerns while advising the city of its obligations under the law.

“We have an obligation to enforce the statue, and the fact that someone asks a question doesn’t mean we have an obligation to respond to it,” Lane said. “If they have a legitimate question then sure, we will respond to it and clarify the law but, as you might guess, with 1,300 regulated dams in the state, we can’t afford to answer every question, every phone call, every letter we get. We do the best we can to provide accurate relevant information, but that aside, we can’t fulfill every request.”

Now, with the city council’s approval to seek the administrative hearing, there’s a chance the city and the DNRE will be able to work out their differences in court.

“One thing about juries is they believe in fairness, and I think we definitely can demonstrate they’re not being fair to Corunna,” Sawyer said.

Posted in Corunna, News local on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 12:00 pm

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Recent events

Discover the Shiawassee River By Pam Elder
We share our love of the water with a new group that has formed, Keepers of the Shiawassee. The Keepers started as a way to
continue the effort to develop the river as a paddling trail with river cleanups and safe kayak landing sites on the Shiawassee River
in Genesee County.
The Keepers help support the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail which goes through our lakes. It enters by the sandbar in
Lake Ponemah and exits in Tupper Lake.
The trail was a vision of the Headwater Trails group from Holly. They hoped to create a designated water trail in Oakland County.
The Keepers have helped to extend the trail through Genesee County. The water trail would not stop in Genesee County. The
development and promotion of the river is supported by Friends of the Shiawassee River in Shiawassee County. These three
groups hope to see a paddling trail that’s almost 100 miles long from Holly all the way to the Shiawassee Flats. The trail begins at
Water Works Park in Holly.
Recently a moonlight paddle was held when a group of 30 kayakers paddled from the Linden Mill Pond to TeeBonez to have
dinner and then paddled back to the Mill Pond in the light of the moon. The group had so much fun that they plan to repeat the
event in August.
They meet on the third Thursday of every month at O’Malley’s Galley on Owen Road. Check out their website,
www.keepersoftheshiawassee.com or join them on Facebook to find their next event. Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation has
been providing administrative support to the group and information on events can also be found on their website www.slpr.net.