Swimming With Dinosaurs

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

If you haven’t been to SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium lately, you might not have heard about the great work they’re doing to help protect Michigan’s Lake Sturgeon population.  SEA LIFE Michigan has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division to help conserve these sea creatures that have been swimming our waters for more than 201 million years.  Yes, that’s right – more than 201 million years.

It’s quite amazing to think that sturgeon were around during the Triassic Period which took place between 252 million and 201 million years ago, right before the Jurassic Period began.  That means sturgeon were swimming around when the first dinosaurs started to roam the earth.  What’s equally fascinating is that Michigan waters are home to these “living fossils” that can grow to 200 pounds and seven feet in length.

According to Shannon Mueller, Educational Specialist at SEA LIFE Michigan, Lake Sturgeon have become a threatened species because they have a slow life cycle compared to other fish.  They take a long time to mature – at least 15 years for males and 20 years for females, and they only lay eggs once every three to five years.  To make matters worse, these fish are highly susceptible to habitat destruction.  SEA LIFE Michigan has joined the DNR’s effort to help conserve and rehabilitate the Lake Sturgeon population in Michigan.

Here is how the conservation program works.  Lake Sturgeon are hatched in the spring at the Black Lake Fish Hatchery right here in Michigan.  SEA LIFE Michigan then receives the young Lake Sturgeon where they grow over the winter before being released back into their native home in the spring.  SEA LIFE Michigan provides environmental enrichment while they are on-site, which gives the young sturgeon the skills to survive in the wild.  Through this program, SEA LIFE Michgian is able to help repopulate a threatened species, collect and report data on sturgeon behavior, growth, and husbandry best practices.

SEA LIFE Michigan offers classes that explore the species’ adaptations, anatomy, lifecycle and the reasons they have become endangered.  Lake Sturgeon are extremely important to Michigan’s lakes because they eat decaying matter and invasive mussels!

We applaud SEA LIFE Michigan for their dedication to protecting this marvelous fish species that has survived for hundreds of millions of years.  We hope they survive hundreds of millions more.

If you’re interested in joining the effort in helping protect and preserve Michgian’s local Lake Sturgeon population, you can follow some of these simple tips:

  • Avoid eating sturgeon meat and caviar
  • Clean all of your recreational equipment to help prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases
  • Reduce litter on the ground and in the lakes
  • Only fish for lake sturgeon if you have a permit and return any accidental catches of lake sturgeon
  • Call the Report-All-Poaching number at 800-292-7800, if you witness illegal fishing or see anything that could harm Michigan’s sturgeon population.

To learn more about Michigan’s Lake Sturgeon, please visit the MDNR Fisheries Division Lake Sturgeon website at www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10364_18958_61264—,00.html.

For more information about SEA LIFE Michigan’s conservation programs, visit www.visitsealife.com/michigan.

Commitment To Clean Waters Continues

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Not many people would spend the first day of fall – especially a sunny, 90-degree day – walking the banks of the Clinton River to search out and remove trash from the area.  But on the morning of September 23rd, a group of eight dedicated individuals did just that.

The volunteers met at River Woods Park and spent two hours collecting a wide variety of trash and debris from the river and its banks.  They worked through the morning and removed eight bags of garbage, one shopping cart, a traffic cone, and a six-foot-long 2” x 6” plank of wood caught in a logjam.

Extra effort was required to find debris because not much had washed up on shore due to fewer bank-full storm events during the spring and summer. There is one thing for sure – their efforts benefit the entire community and goes a long way in maintaining the beauty of our three parks; River Woods, Riverside, and the Skate Park.

I’m sure the deer that stopped by for a morning snack of crabapples appreciated the efforts made that morning too.

Jimmy John’s (located on Baldwin Road), stopped by to provide all the volunteers with a free lunch.  They went all out by bringing four different types of subs and chips and an assortment of pop and water for everyone.

The City of Auburn Hills would like to send out a special “thank you” to all the volunteers who participated in this clean-up and to Jimmy John’s for supporting their efforts.

To find out more on actions you can take to keep our waters clean; please visit the following websites: www.auburnhills.org/stormwater.phpwww.crwc.orgwww.semcog.org/What-You-Can-Do/To-Protect-Our-Waterways

To report pollution, please call the City of Auburn Hills, Community Development Department at 248-364-6900.

The River Clean-Up Tradition Continues

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Over the last 30 years, residents and businesses from all around the Clinton River Watershed have volunteered their time to improve the health of our local rivers, lakes, and streams by removing trash and debris from our waterways.  The City of Auburn Hills is looking to keep the tradition going by hosting a river clean-up event on Saturday, September 23rd.

Volunteers for this annual event are dedicated to the preservation and protection of our waters and natural resources for our future generations to enjoy.  They also realize the wide range of recreational opportunities, including fishing and kayaking, our local waterways now provide.

So if you’re looking for an opportunity make a positive impact in your community and improve the health of the Clinton River, stop by River Woods Park in Auburn Hills on Saturday, September 23rd, at 9:00 am.  The clean-up will conclude at noon when the team at Jimmy John’s will provide free subs to the volunteers!

For additional information, please contact Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner by phone at 248-364-6926 or by e-mail at skeenan@auburnhills.org.  Advanced notice of participation is appreciated but not required.  Volunteers are advised to wear work clothes and sturdy shoes.

To learn more about future river clean-up events, please visit the Clinton River Watershed Council at www.crwc.org.

Unlimited Commitment To Our Waters

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

On the sun-filled Saturday of August 19th, dedicated volunteers from the Clinton Valley and Vanguard Chapters of Trout Unlimited (TU) worked together to improve the water and habitat of the Clinton River in an area just downstream of the Auburn Court bridge.  During their hours of dedicated service, these loyal stewards of trout streams managed to remove over nine bags of trash and other debris from the river that had been accumulating in a log jam.

They also took time to remove and reposition the logs within the log jam to open the stream so it can flow more freely and prevent the banks of the river from eroding.  All in all, the day’s efforts were a success!  The group’s commitment went a long way in improving the health, recreational use (fishing and kayaking) and aesthetics of the Clinton River.

Woody Debris Before Cleanup

Woody Debris After Cleanup

The City of Auburn Hills sends out a special thank you to Mark Johnston who took the lead in planning the project, all the volunteers from Trout Unlimited who participated, as well as Peninsula Plastics who provided room in their dumpster for all the trash and debris collected from the river.

Adopt-A-Stream Offers Hands-On Environmental Opportunity

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

If you’re interested in learning more about the water quality of your local rivers, creeks or streams and don’t mind getting a little wet, the Clinton River Watershed Council’s Adopt-A-Stream program is an activity worth exploring.  This volunteer-based program invites residents and businesses alike a hands-on opportunity to monitor the health of our local waterways.

Volunteers are trained, teamed-up and assigned a location to monitor twice a year – once in May and once in October, for about three to four hours each time.  Equipment and data sheets will be provided for the collection of information on streamside habitat, physical characteristics, and benthic macroinvertebrate (bug) populations.   The presence of specific bugs, or lack thereof, is a good indicator of water quality.

The data collected is of great use to the Clinton River Watershed Council, local municipalities and the State of Michigan to assess the health of its local waterways and make decisions regarding protection and restoration.

For more information or to register for one of the free Adopt-A-Stream events, please contact the Clinton River Watershed Council by phone at 248-601-0606 or by email at registration@crwc.org.

Protect Yourself From West Nile Virus

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

We all like to get out and enjoy the warm summertime weather – but warm weather brings those pesky little mosquitos.  This is the time of year we want to protect ourselves from the West Nile Virus (WNV) and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Oakland County Health Department officials confirmed that one of their mosquito test pools tested positive for the virus earlier this month.  With that in mind, there’s no better time to remind everyone about the precautionary measures that reduce your risk of getting WNV and other diseases that mosquitos carry.  Just follow a few simple steps:

  • Use insect repellent in accordance to the manufactures recommendation
  • Eliminate standing water that collects in birdbaths, boats, buckets, tires, unused pools, roof gutters and other containers
  • Wear protective clothing such as long sleeved shirts and pants
  • Limit outdoor activity primarily between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes may be present (i.e. shaded and wooded areas)
  • Maintain window and door screening to keep mosquitoes out of buildings
  • Following these simple steps should help everyone enjoy their summertime experiences

For more information on West Nile Virus please visit the Oakland County Health Department’s website.

A Record Crowd Celebrates River Day

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

The 14th Annual Auburn Hills Fishing Derby was held last Saturday on June 10th to celebrate River Day, and a record 114 young anglers were on hand for the occasion.  Warm weather, high waters and a river full of rainbow trout greeted over 160 attendees.

Derby participants tested their skills and patience in catching one of the 500 rainbow trout the City had released into the river.  Not every kid was fortunate enough to catch a fish (which must be why they call it “fishing” instead of “catching”) but all 114 kids walked away with a raffle prize thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and supporters.

Hats off to our Premier Sponsor, Bass Pro Shop, who stepped up big by donating 200 slightly used rods and reels for the City to refurbish and assemble for the raffle.

If you missed the Derby, there is still plenty of time to fish in Riverside Park or River Woods Park, although now you might need a little more patience to land one of the 15” rainbow trout now that they aren’t confined to just a small section of the river.

For information on what action you can take to protect our water resources and our resident trout population, please visit www.auburnhills.org/stormwater.php or http://www.crwc.org/.

A special thank you to all of our Fishing Derby sponsors and supporters.