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 – Sam 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.

Protect Water Quality: Use Brine Instead Of Rock Salt

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

We all know that salt keeps our communities safe by reducing the number of vehicle accidents, as well as slip and fall accidents. Unfortunately, salt doesn’t just disappear when all the snow melts; it is washed into our lakes, rivers, and streams and has an almost immediate effect on water quality.  As a homeowner, consider reducing salt use by applying brine, not rock salt, before a snow storm and shoveling frequently to keep snow from accumulating.  This is the best way to save your back, your knees, and our local rivers like the Clinton and Rouge!

Salt washed into storm sewers impact local waterways, like our Clinton River

Brine, a mixture of salt and water, has become a great alternative to traditional rock salt,  The transition to using brine for a homeowner has minimal costs.  Brine can be pre-mixed in large quantities and stored in your basement or garage.  By spraying brine, you have more control over your application, so you don’t apply over the same area twice, and it won’t bounce off the driveway the way rock salt can.  Brine starts working much faster than rock salt due to the increased contact area with the snow.  The best method is to apply the brine before a snow storm begins.

For more information on how you can improve and protect your local rivers, lakes, and streams, please visit our website.  To report pollution, please call our Department at 248-364-6900.

A Look Back At The Clinton River Water Festival

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

If you happen to be a longtime subscriber of this blog you’re familiar with the strong partnership that the City of Auburn Hills has with Oakland University in educating tomorrow’s leaders.  For 11 years, both organizations have worked together to teach children about the role clean water plays in our quality of life and economic prosperity.

This past May over 1,200 fifth grade students attended the Clinton River Water Festival held at Oakland University to learn all about the number of ways that water impacts our daily lives … and the need to keep it clean.

Thanks to the 79 professionals who presented at the festival and the 40 plus Oakland University students who worked as guides.  The children were able to attend five of the 47 fun and interactive sessions offered during the day that covered a variety of topics including stormwater, soil erosion, habitat, wildlife, and pollution prevention.

The Oakland County Dirt Doctors prepares to demonstrate the negative effects of soil erosion

Oakland County Sheriff Don Nolen discusses the importance of water safety

Andrew Foerg from ECS discusses the environmental impacts of stormwater runoff

A special thank you goes out to all the event presenters, volunteers, and sponsors who made this year’s festival a success.

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.