Water Festival Fun

Posted by – Stephanie Carroll, Manager of Business Development & Community Relations

On Friday, our staff attended one of my absolute favorite events at Oakland University – The 11th Annual Clinton River Water Festival.  Partners including, Waste Management, the Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, and the Clinton River Watershed Council come together to provide a full-day of activities for students.

The Festival is an educational and enjoyable learning experience for over 1,200 fifth-grade students from the Clinton River Watershed community schools in Oakland County.  As the conversations continue to revolve around sustainability and conservation, it’s important to recognize and get involved in programs like this.  Our very own Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner, was instrumental is starting this event at OU back in 2007— that’s something we are very proud of as a city.

The festival design allows students to learn about the central role water and the Clinton River play within the region. Some of the topics explored during the festival include storm water, waste water treatment, soil erosion, wetlands, creeks and streams, habitat, as well as sources of pollution.

The theme of the day is Celebrating water!

Remember…It’s Not Just Toxic To You

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Did you know that many household products are dangerous to our kids, pets, and the environment?  These materials pollute our waterways if washed or dumped into storm drains or roadside ditches that lead directly to our lakes and rivers.  Household cleaners, pesticides, gasoline, antifreeze, used motor oil and other hazardous products need to be labeled, stored, and disposed of properly.

So what can you do to help?  Simple.  Here are some steps you can take to carefully dispose of household wastes and help keep our water clean.

Identify it.  Be aware of household products that can harm children, pets, and the environment.  The words “danger,” “caution,” “warning,” or “toxic” indicate that you need to be careful in how you use and dispose of the product.

Less is better.  Reduce waste and save money by purchasing only the materials you need.  When possible, choose less toxic alternatives.  For example, try cleaning your windows with vinegar and water.

Store properly.  Keep unused products in their original containers with labels intact.  Select cool, dry storage areas that are away from children, pets, and wildlife.

Disposal is key.  Never dump cleaners, chemicals, motor oil, and other toxic materials down storm drains, roadside ditches, sinks, or on the ground.  Contact your local community for household hazardous waste disposal locations, guidelines, and dates.

City of Auburn Hills – Department of Public Works – 1500 Brown Road

Residents of Auburn Hills can participate in the 2017 Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Electronic Recycling Day scheduled for Saturday, May 20th from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The drop-off location is at the Department of Public Works Facility located at 1500 Brown Road.

Visit the SEMCOG website for more information on protecting our lakes and rivers.  To report pollution, call the City of Auburn Hills, Community Development Department at 248-364-6900.

Clean Up Event Provides Immediate Gratification

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

The Auburn Hills Beautification Advisory Commission (BAC) held their first clean up event of 2017 this past Saturday morning.   A small group of volunteers, which included two elementary school students, gathered at Will Rogers Elementary School to clean the natural wooded areas and open spaces surrounding the building.

From left to right – Connor Grosz (student), Carla Withers, Mattie Lopez (student), Rich Foster; City Councilman Bob Kittle, me and Jan Kittle (our photographer) post clean up.  A big thank you to all and especially Councilman Kittle for helping out on his birthday!

The group collected seven large bags of trash from the woods, along with an old, rusted, antique mattress frame and a wheel/rotor assembly.

Often the eye passes right over what we don’t want to see.  Discarded cups, bottles, wrappers and such can become a part of the landscape and erode an otherwise pleasing scene.   Litter, when left unchecked, can lead to feelings of unrest, discomfort and sometimes even fear.  The disorganized appearance can lead to lower property values and even disinvestment.

That is why beautiful cities, like Auburn Hills, remain vigilant in clean-up efforts.  The solution to litter is quite simple and takes a minimal amount of time – especially when friends, relatives and neighbors come together.   One of my favorite things about these events is the immediate gratification – knowing that you’ve made a difference and are leaving something in better shape than you found it.

If you see an area in our fine City that needs attention, contact the City to help get the ball rolling.  If you would like to coordinate your own cleanup event, our Keep It Clean program can provide the needed supplies and safety equipment to help ensure a safe and productive day.

Contact the Auburn Hills Beautification Commission at beautification@auburnhills.org or 248.364.6946 for more information.  Help keep Auburn Hills a beautiful place to live, work and play.

Trees for Our Future

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Today is Arbor Day, a time to give trees the spotlight because they provide a variety of benefits for our community and environment.  Here are just a few of those benefits:

  • Trees help improve water quality by intercepting and absorbing storm water runoff
  • Trees improve air quality.  One single tree releases enough oxygen for a family of four over a one year period
  • Well-placed shade trees can save up to 20 percent on your summer air-conditioning bill
  • A mature tree in a well-landscaped yard can increase the value of a house by 7 to 19 percent
  • Trees provide habitat for birds, pollinators and beneficial insects

If you’re interested in adding a tree to your landscape, now is the perfect time to plant one.  You’ll find a wide variety or high-quality trees at your local tree nursey.

Things to consider when selecting a tree:

  • Select a tree suited for the planting site. Consider sun/shade, drainage and soils.  Also look up to see if there are any overhead wires you will want to avoid
  • Consider tree species native to Southeast Michigan, since they are well adapted to the local growing condition
  • Make sure the trees you purchase are northern grown, this will help assure your trees survive Michigan’s harsh winter
  • Select trees that have a straight trunk and are State Department of Agriculture Nursery Grade No. 1 or better
  • Look for trees with good branch arrangement. Good attachment angles (wider angles are better than narrow) with branches well-spaced both vertically and in circumference

Once you’ve purchased your tree you will want to plant it correctly.  It’s fairly easy, just follow the guidelines in the diagram below.  Make sure the root flare is visible and just above the ground when planted.  This means that you might have to remove some soil on top of the root-ball.

Once your tree is planted, watering it is critical for its survival. Water the tree at least once a week.  Distribute the water evenly over the root system and mulched area.  Keep the soil moist but not soaked.  Last but not least, replenish mulch each year by extending the mulch in a wide circle out from the base of the tree and always remember to keep the mulch a least 1 to 2 or up to 3 inches away from the trunk of the tree.

Healthy Lawn Care Practices For Green Lawns And Blue Waters

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Why Healthy Lawn Care?  A healthy lawn is green and thick … a place to walk on safely without concerns for children and pets.  Even more important, a healthy lawn holds fertilizer and any pesticide in the soils – keeping pollutants out of storm drains.

Why is this important? Since storm drains connect to our lakes and rivers, we all live on “waterfront property”!  We now know that 50% or more of the troublesome water pollutants originate from home lawns.  A little care can go a long way.

Below are Go Green Lawn Care tips developed by Michigan State University’s Turfgrass Specialist in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Science that will result in a green and healthy lawn and keep our local waters clean for all to enjoy.

Mow High – Recycle Clippings

Mow at least 3 inches high

Return clippings to recycle nutrients

Sweep clippings from walks and driveways onto the lawn

Taller grass crowds out weeds and promotes deeper roots

Deeper roots help the lawn survive droughts


Fertilize in Fall for Best Results

Fall is the best time to fertilize your lawn

Be patient in the spring – wait until May to fertilize

Don’t fertilize if the ground is frozen or saturated with water

Don’t guess – soil test for proper fertilizer recommendations


Choose Lawn-Type Fertilizer

Choose lawn fertilizer with low or not phosphorus (the middle number) and follow the directions

Avoid using “triple” products (e.g. 12-12-12)

Confirm spreader settings before applying


Clean-Up – Avoid Surface Water

Maintain a NO APPLICATION ZONE near lakes, rivers, streams and storm drains.

Never discharge clippings near lakes, rivers, streams or drains

Sweep fertilizer granules from walks and driveways onto the lawn

Wash the spreader on the grass

Water Smart

Don’t soak your lawn and avoid night watering.

Watering should not produce puddles; lighter, more frequent watering is best.

Brown lawns are OK; dormancy is a natural response to drought, however, some water may be necessary during an extended drought of more than a month

Following Go Green Lawn Care Tips will reduce the amount of water your lawn needs.

For more information about how to maintain a healthy lawn or answers to common lawn care questions please visit MSU Extension’s Home Lawns website.

Continental Automotive Kicks Earth Day Into High Gear

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

Continental Automotive held its 2nd annual Conti Earth Day and Clean-Up Spectacular event today, as part of the Auburn Hills “Keep It Clean” program.

75 Continental employees took to the streets in a tremendous clean-up effort and collected 80 bags of litter and debris from parts of Harmon Road, Joslyn Road, and Continental Drive.  Continental gave all participating employees a water bottle and a tree seedling to celebrate their efforts.

Continental has multiple locations in Auburn Hills and is home to thousands of employees.  “We are proud to be a part of this community and we want to ensure the streets of our community are clean,” said Tom Richards, Senior Account Manager at Continental and event organizer.  “At Continental, environmental protection and friendliness is not just a motto but something we take very seriously, from producing fuel efficient technology to ensuring our local roads and neighborhoods are clean and safe.  That is why we are committed to participating in the Auburn Hills Keep It Clean program each year.”

Keep It Clean is a City program designed to keep roadsides, open areas and parks clean and attractive.  Participants “adopt” an area and hold clean-up events to keep it beautiful and litter-free.

The program is open for business in spring, summer, and fall and is available to all types of organizations including scout troops, church groups, teen groups, social clubs and service organizations.  There’s no fee to participate and garbage bags, pickers, orange vests and road safety signs are provided by the City.

We thank Continental Automotive for being a great neighbor and for serving as a terrific example.  Together we make the City of Auburn Hills beautiful.

Happy Earth Day!

DNR Fisheries Continues To Deliver

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Back on April 21, 1980, the DNR Fisheries Division began stocking the Clinton River in Downtown Auburn Hills.  They delivered 2,110 smallmouth bass to the stretch of the Clinton River that flows through Riverside Park that first year.

We’re pleased to announce that the 37-year tradition continues.  Yesterday the DNR released 2,400 brown trout into the river – making it a total of 512,113 fish released over the life of this program.  The species stocked the first year included pike and smallmouth bass before switching to the more familiar rainbow trout and brown trout in the years that followed.

The purpose of the DNR’s annual stocking program, which is funded through fishing license fees, is to help support your local urban fishery. This is similar to the program the City created in partnership with DNR Fisheries, the Clinton River Watershed Council and the four chapters of Trout Unlimited (Challenge, Clinton Valley, Paul H. Young, and Vanguard).

The increase in angling hours on the Clinton River in Downtown Auburn Hills is one factor the DNR uses in determining the release site, something the City is proud to see grow in popularity over the years. We look forward to seeing the many anglers in the area explore and enjoy one of our region’s greatest natural resources – the Clinton River.