New Digs For The Auburn Hills Perennial Exchange

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

Gardeners from Auburn Hills and twelve surrounding communities met last Saturday morning for their annual rite of spring – the Auburn Hills Perennial Exchange.  This year, the Beautification Advisory Commission (BAC) hosted the exchange on the back patio of the Auburn Hills Community Center – which provided a beautiful green, wooded backdrop.

To kick-off the planting/gardening season, participants received a gift bag filled with gardening goodies including flower seed packets and gardening gloves.  First-time attendees enjoyed talking with experienced gardeners to gain insight on the types of plants available, recommended planting environments and invasive species to avoid.

The Perennial Exchange is an annual event held by the BAC on the third Saturday of May.  Mark your calendars to take part in this fun and free event next year!

A Woman On A Mission

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

Two like-minded organizations – Keep Michigan Beautiful (KMB) and the Beautification Council of Southeastern Michigan (BCSEM) – joined together this past Wednesday in Warren to share ideas and information about projects that combat litter in our communities.  I was excited to have the opportunity to attend this unique event on behalf of the City of Auburn Hills.  To start the conversation, they brought in a local expert to share her story.

Audra D. Carson, founder of two blight-busting organizations, shared incredible stories of her volunteer events that cleanup more than just litter.  Her focus is on discarded tires.  While that is not a big problem in some communities, it is in others.  It is a national problem in fact, and Audra has found a way to make a very positive impact in her area.  She shed light on this issue for the diverse audience of southeastern Michigan community representatives – as far-reaching as Midland.

Her company, De-tread, LLC is a non-profit youth initiative that fosters environmental stewardship, civic engagement, and creativity.  During a cleanup, her groups will take on an area, clean it, clear all discarded tires – except a few that they transform into an art installment.  Her efforts have led to growing awareness of this problem while teaching our younger generation to be good stewards of their environment and how to create and maintain welcoming spaces.  Her motto is to “Leave people, places and things better than we found them.”  She is truly inspirational, and all communities can learn from her example.

The key to successful clean-up events is (obviously) volunteers!  The Auburn Hills Beautification Advisory Commission (BAC) invites residents and businesses to get involved in cleanup efforts – whether it’s a small group of friends and family, co-workers or a coordinated event supported by our “Keep It Clean” program.

If you would like to coordinate or volunteer for a clean-up event, or if you want to share details and photos of a cleanup you’ve done, please call me at 248-364-6946 or send an e-mail to beautification@auburnhills.org.  We’d love to share your stories!

Together we make the City of Auburn Hills a beautiful place to live, work and play!

A Fish Story … You’ll Have To See To Believe!

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, City Planner

It’s April 9th and well past April Fools’ Day, so you might be more inclined to believe my “fish story.”

Well, there are some big fish swimming in the Clinton River right now, and they happen to be residing in the City of Auburn Hills.  How could I be so sure this news is no joke?  The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Fisheries Division were rotating out brown and rainbow trout from their hatchery broodstock program and decided to release the adult trout on March 26th at Riverside Park in Downtown Auburn Hills.  We have photos!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that Riverside Park is one of the MDNR’s stocking locations along the Clinton River because the City offers a number of locations where anglers can fish from the bank or enter the waters.  Riverside Park and River Woods Park are the two most popular parks where you might see someone cast a line into the water in hopes of catching a fish or two.

For those looking for more specifics a total of 672 brown and rainbow trout averaging 19 inches (almost two feet long) were released into the river.  This is only the second time the MDNR has released adult trout into the river.

So, if fishing happens to be one of your favorite past times, and you don’t want to take a three-hour drive up north to the Au Sable River, why not test your skills right here in Downtown Auburn Hills.  Thank you, MDNR Fisheries Division!

Friendly Reminder: As of April 1, 2018 anglers will need a new fishing license and brush-up on some new fishing regulations.  Please see Stream Type 3 below for the fishing regulations for the main branch of the Clinton River.

Plogging, Anyone?

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

Just this morning, I learned that there is a growing fitness trend here in the US that combines physical activity with environmentally-friendly activity.  It started in Sweden several years ago and it’s called Plogging – a combination of “plocka upp”, which is Swedish for “pick up” and jogging.  This idea is now promoted by Keep Michigan Beautiful (KMB) as a fun and healthy community activity.

While jogging, stop along the way to pick up discarded plastic bottles, wrappers, etc.  A 30-minute plog will burn an estimated 288 calories compared to a 235 calories jog.  Deep knee bends and lunges to pick up litter add to the physical benefits.  A simple concept, right?  It’s a win/win – a healthier you and a healthier environment.

The Auburn Hills Beautification Commission is hosting a “Keep It Clean” event on Saturday, May 12th at 10 a.m.  This event welcomes everyone.  You can choose to focus on a cleanup walk or try plogging with a group of your friends, family or co-workers.  Contact the Community Development Department at 248.364.6946 for more information and to sign up.  Together we make Auburn Hills a clean, healthy and happy place to be.

Celebrating 15 Years Of River Stewardship

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, City Planner

On Thursday, March 8th, the Clinton River Coldwater Conservation Project (CRCCP) will be celebrating its 15th anniversary of river stewardship.  For those not familiar with the CRCCP, it all began in 2003 when a partnership formed between the four chapters of Trout Unlimited (TU) (Challenge Chapter, Clinton Valley Chapter, Paul H. Young Chapter, and Vanguard Chapter), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division (MDNR), Oakland County Planning (OCP), the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC), and the City of Auburn Hills.  Their purpose was to assess the potential of the Clinton River, and a few of its major tributaries, to support a viable urban fishery and become a designated trout stream.  The program developed was called the Clinton River Coldwater Conservation Project (CRCCP).

The first project undertaken by the group included three components and involved more than 50 volunteers.  The volunteers were trained on how to properly assess the conditions of a river by measuring its width and depth and assessing the river’s bank every 100 feet.   At first you might think this would be no big deal until you find out that the volunteers had to assess over 12 miles of the Clinton River – from I-75 in Auburn Hills to the Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills, and four miles of the Galloway Creek from the Galloway Lake Dam to where it outlets to the Clinton River.  The volunteers also collected temperature data from the river to see how warm it gets during the summer and collected macroinvertebrates to help assess the rivers health.

The data collected from the first major project was encouraging and once it was analyzed by the DNR it was determined that the Clinton River and its tributaries could support an urban fishery.  As a result of all the hard from the many volunteers 15 long years ago, the project continued each year thereafter.  The City of Auburn Hills, TU and MDNR began improving instream habitat; MDNR conducted fish surveys; volunteers began clearing log jams; fishing accesses points were installed, streambanks were stabilized; failing dams were removed; and the MDNR continued stocking the river with Brown Trout and on occasion released some of their broodstock at Riverside Park in Auburn Hills.  But most excitng of all – the project continues to grow as more people begin to realize the true value of the Clinton River as a recreation resource worthy of protecting and enhancing.

If you’re interested learning more about past accomplishments or the volunteer opportunities planned for this year, come join the celebration at Rochester Mills Brewery on March 8th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Tickets to the celebration are $15.00 and includes dinner and one drink ticket.  Space is limited.

To register please visit www.crwc.org/river-rallly-upcoming-events/ or call the CRWC at 248-601-0606.

What Is A Brownfield, Exactly?

Posted by – Samantha Seimer, Director of Authorities

I bet you woke up this morning and wondered … “What exactly is a Brownfield?”  We get it.  We’re here to help explain.

A Brownfield is a property in which redevelopment may be complicated by the presence of hazardous substances and pollutants.  Revitalizing and redeveloping contaminated sites helps to protect the environment, reuses existing infrastructure, and creates economic opportunities.

In 1996, the Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act allowed municipalities to create their own Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to help facilitate the redevelopment of contaminated properties.  The City Council approved the operation of its own authority in 1998.  The City’s authority, which is overseen by a five-member resident board, reviews proposals for assistance eligibility.

The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has been an integral part of the City’s economic development program.  It has allowed our City the ability to assist with the redevelopment of numerous underutilized and contaminated properties located throughout the community by providing financial incentives.  Specific incentive plans are developed for individual sites where the property taxes collected, after reuse, are captured from that contaminated site to pay back the land developer for his/her eligible clean up costs.  This State-approved financing model helps developers take on the extra costs and financial risk associated with such difficult properties.

The transition of the former Fons landfill into the Dutton Corporate Centre was assisted by the City’s authority

The Dutton Corporate Centre is just one of many contaminated properties the City’s authority has worked to help clean-up and redevelop over the past 20 years.

The Search Continues

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

It’s this time of year there’s snow on the ground and temperatures outside are in the 20’s or low 30’s if we’re lucky.  This type of weather is not for the faint of heart, but a growing number of Michiganders enjoy this winter wonderland and all it has to offer.

It’s also the time when the Stonefly nymph begin to emerge from the cold waters of our local rivers and streams and when the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) looks for volunteers to search for the Stonefly nymph. The Stonefly is a creature that only measures about 7-12 mm long and is most active when the water temperature is very cold like it is now.  Finding them in our rivers is also a good indicator that the water quality is high since it’s one of the most sensitive of all aquatic macroinvertebrates living in our waters.

So if you enjoy being outdoors and don’t mind braving the cold you might be interested in joining the CRWC staff and volunteers at 9:00 am on Saturday, January 20th for their annual Winter Stonefly Search.  From there, volunteers will split into teams and travel up to 15 sampling locations throughout the watershed, including Riverside Park in Auburn Hills.  Once teams have finished their site research, all will meet back at the office for pizza, snacks and hot beverages.

Everyone is welcome to join the search.  The CRWC will have a few extra pairs of waders on hand for those who choose to get in the water – or participants can bring their own.  The search goes on regardless of the weather so dress warmly.  Registration is required by January 18th.  Please contact the CRWC’s office at 248-601-0606 or e-mail registration@crwc.org to register or for additional information.