Each year with the arrival of spring comes a new onslaught of invasive plants. There are new characters each year to add to the old "favorites." Pictured above is Garlic mustard, a particularly insidious plant that can turn a forest of diversity into a mono-culture in no time. As soon as you spot this and other invasives, pull them out and dispose of them immediately so the seeds do not continue to spread. They are already flowering here in Michigan so don't wait!
Are you a landowner in the Huron River Watershed? Would you like to learn more about land protection options for your land?
The Highland Conservancy (now the Highland Chapter of Six Rivers Land Conservancy) invites you to an information session on land conservation in the Huron River Watershed on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 (7:00-8:30pm at the Chalet at Camp Dearborn) An alternate session is coming up this Thursday, April 30th, 2015 at 6:00-7:30pm at the Highland Township Hall. This presentation will introduce you to the importance of and threats to the watershed’s water quality, land protection options available to landowners, and the opportunity for a free field assessment.
This is in partnership with Livingston Land Conservancy, Michigan Nature Association, North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy, SEMIWILD (a collaboration of land conservancies in Southeast Michigan), and the Huron River Watershed Council.
Please RSVP to SEMIWILD@heartofthelakes.org or (248)326-4751.
Can't attend a session in Highland? Feel free to attend any that work best with your schedule:
Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
Superior Township Hall
Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Highland Township Hall
Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
The Chalet at Camp Dearborn
Thursday, May 14th, 2015
Dexter Township Hall
Earth day is celebrated every April, yet here in Highland Township and Milford, Michigan there was a very special afternoon of family fun! On Sunday, April 26, 2015, the Huron Valley Green Team and Carls Family YMCA off Commerce Road in Milford hosted a free earth day event packed with activities for families, children and anyone who can attend. There was face painting, arts and craft activities, dancing, top notch musicians, and the International Academy put on a "green" fashion show (one year there was a dress made entirely of brochures!). There were a wide variety of booths with everything from how to protect your lake's water quality to the "insect man" with cocoons, caterpillars and info on insects. Finally, winners of the Huron Valley earth day poster contest were given their awards and the YMCA was decorated with dozens of awesome posters created by local students. This is an annual event put on by the Huron Valley Green team each year so if you missed the fun this year, I urge you to make sure you attend next year's earth day.
EARTH DAY POSTER CONTEST: In celebration of earth day there was a poster contest for all Huron Valley elementary and middle school students. The theme this year was Save Earth's Animals: Protect Animal Habitats. A wide variety of excellent posters were submitted and most even included in-depth research on the problem of loss of animal habitat that is causing monarchs, tigers, pandas and other animal's to lose their homes. These posters were put up around the gym, so everyone was able to enjoy our HVS student's ideas and creativity.
Each spring, a Mallard duck comes to lay her eggs in the protected comfort of our school atrium. At first she tried nesting under Oxbow Elementary's playground slide, but as soon as recess brought out a gaggle of kids, she decided to find a safer spot! There are plants, shrubs and flowers and we put out a small tub of water for her, so she is pampered! When the chicks are born, we open the door, and a line of teachers gently urges her toward the nearest exit. (It always makes me think of the famous ducks at the Peabody hotel in Memphis who are escorted daily to the hotel fountain). When our duck arrives, we know Spring is here!
Announcing the 18th National Water Trail
Recognizing the achievements of federal, state, and local partners, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has designated the Huron River Water Trail as the 18th trail of the National Water Trails System. From construction projects that fix up dam portages, increase accessibility and provide new launch and landing spots, to new way-finding signs, to a waterproof map book and online trip planning tool, the Huron River Water Trail has come together. The Huron River Water Council led the initiative and application for the National Water Trail designation. Their vision is of a Huron River that is a focal point for recreational activities, while boosting local economies and adding a richness and breadth to historical and cultural events along the river. How exciting to achieve national visibility! This designation will bring positive economic impacts including increased tourism, assistance with stewardship and sustainability projects, assistance with recognition and special events highlighting the trail, and more.
The National Water Trail System is a network of national exemplary water trails from Puget Sound to the Hudson River. It is an inter-agency collaborative effort administrated by the National Park Service. LEARN MORE at www.hrwc.org! For a full article on the efforts of the HRWC to make the Huron River more accessible for river-goers, read this article: http://www.annarbor.com/health/huron-river-watershed-council-hopes-water-trail-will-boost-river-tourism/
Photo courtesy of WorldWildlife.org
According to the LA Times, federal protection has been restored for the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes region - including Michigan. This is good news for our wolves which were recently hunted after they were taken off the endangered species list. Wolves used to number in the tens of thousands throughout North America but currently are estimated at about 658. Often misrepresented and maligned, wolves are an important part of our ecosystem. This new ruling by U.S. Disrict Judge Beryl Howell calls for "more stringent standards for taking an animal off the endangered species list" per the Dec. 21st article in the L.A. Times. However, the fight to protect our wolves is not over. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is still proposing to remove the wolf entirely from this list and a ruling on this could come as early as 2015.
Highland Township is proposing an ordinance change that will outlaw all brush burning. Under the current ordinance, homeowners with properties in excess of ten acres can request a burning permit to burn brush piles during times of the year when burning is safe. Burning is prohibited within 50 feet of a structure. Burning of trash and leaves is never permitted. Burning in small lot subdivisions is already controlled. The new ordinance will put brush and stumps in the “never permitted” category. Only logs over two inches diameter will be allowed for burning.
Maintaining private lands is already difficult. Township ordinances should assist the homeowner rather than interfere. Maintaining these private lands preserves the “rural character” of Highland. It is critical that you attend the public hearing on this proposed change and voice your objection. The public hearing is on Wednesday December 17 at the Highland Activity Center (Township Hall) at 6:30 PM. I am told that this proposed change is not coming as a request from the Fire Department. Perhaps this will be explained at the hearing.
For decades Highland Township has worked to permit development without losing its “rural character”. Although the Township has a large amount of State Park land, the “rural character” is preserved primarily by large acreage homeowners. But land does not remain “natural” if left alone; it needs active management. In the 1990s the rural homeowner’s task began to seriously ramp up as invasive plant species came into the area either intentionally or by accident from Europe and Asia. These aggressive, invasive plants require serious work on the part of the homeowner to be controlled. Cutting and burning these plants is the most powerful way of controlling them. In addition, insects and pathogens have completely eradicated American elm and ash trees among others, resulting in dead trees toppling over in wind storms throughout the area. Burning is the only reasonably efficient way of dealing with all of this dead brush. If not burned, seeds will germinate thus making the land management task harder. Please let all large parcel landowners know of this proposal and urge attendance at the hearing.
UPDATE! READ ON:
From: Ben Brower [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2014 2:40 PM
To: Greg Baroni
Subject: Arnason SWD permit application with EPA
In mid-2013, Jordan submitted application to the EPA for a salt water disposal (SWD) permit which would be used to dispose salt water that is produced from nearby oil wells. At this point, Jordan has not had significant oil discoveries in this area to justify this SWD well therefore, as of yesterday, November 12, Jordan has requested the EPA suspend our SWD permit application. In the event we ever wish to move forward with this permit, we will be required to start the public comment period from the beginning. Jordan has been performing oil and gas operations in this area for the past few years and we have always attempted to keep the local officials and land owners informed of our activities as we desire to be good neighbors. You are welcome to share this information with residents and media outlets
Benjamin S. Brower, V.P.
Jordan Development Company
1503 Garfield Road North
Traverse City, MI 49696
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO SENT LETTERS ON THIS SUBJECT! THIS ROUND IS WON!
Fracking WAS coming to Indian Springs.The Metroparks had leased the entire Indian Springs Metropark for potential drilling.
What is fracking? Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. During the process, the water is polluted with chemicals that are so dangerous that they then are disposed of by injecting them back into the deep rock layers where the oil came from. These Injection disposal wells are used to permanently 'store' the contaminated waste fluids including toxic, cancerous chemicals which should NEVER be returned to the hydrologic cycle again nor can they be recycled (thus the injection well). However; nowhere in the 23 page permit are the chemicals listed. No MSDS (material safety data sheet) of any kind are included. Should a leak occur, the impact would be
dramatic: Drinking water from wells would be affected. This site is also just south of Big Lake: the headwaters of the Huron River Watershed (see map attached). The obvious danger here requires little explanation: a spill or leak will travel south through the entire watershed to Lake Erie and the Great Lakes Watershed.....
The expected maximum daily volume of fluid to be injected is 20,000 barrels. The volume of such activity inherently imposes a tremendous amount of road wear and tear, plus noise and air pollution from equipment and diesel truck convoys – none of which our area is prepared to deal with – not to mention ‘disturbing the peace’. The industrial nature of these construction and transportation efforts, in our otherwise forested and country setting, is
undesirable and directly, negatively impact our home values,(re)mortgaging ability and insurance rates. Although “ …no significant environmental impact should result from the proposed injection”, accidents do happen, well-casings leak and guaranteeing containment is impossible. In the areas, where these problems have happened, property values have plummeted to the point of being unsaleable.
THANKS TO ALL WHO SUBMITTED LETTERS TO THE EPA - YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE!
In order to attain a formal public hearing, residents must express significant interest, in the form of Letters sent to the EPA which may be sent via email, fax or U.S. mail. Letters must state specifically what issues are being raised, and be directed to EPA Anna Miller; refer to subject: Arnason B2-2, SWD, MI-125-2D-0005 and include your name, city/town and state.
Schools in the Huron Valley District and throughout Oakland County have been growing greener each year as a result of a grassroots initiative originally started at Hartland High School in 2005. This effort resulted in Governor Jennifer Granholm signing Public Act 146 into law in May of 2006. Oakland County jumped onboard in the 2007-2008 school year, and awarded the Michigan Green School designation to 45 public and private schools during the first year. Oakland County had more schools participate than any other county in the state.
To become an official green school, schools need to do things such as recycle paper, batteries, cell phones, and plastic. They also create student run programs to save energy, order recycled materials, and involve students in a variety of activities to raise environmental awareness.
Last year, 2013-2014, Oakland Schools and Oakland County designated 191 schools a Michigan Green School. There were 52 schools that also received the special designation of Emerald status by successfully earning an additional 15 points for extra activities and 100 schools earned the Evergreen status, by receiving an extra 20 points. The awards ceremony is held every April.
In our area, there are several groups that are working hard to get children, families and adults off their devices and outside. One of those groups is Heavners Canoe Livery. Alan Heavner works hard to provide canoe trips, campfires and all kinds of meet-up situations to get folks active doing fun river trips and experiencing nature all around the metro area. Another group is the Adventure League that is active year round with hikes, biking, and even snow shoeing. There are all kinds of hayrides, spooky cornfields and local park activities this time of year. So lets get out there and get our eyes off the games and apps, and get searching instead for Blue Herons, river otters and turtles!
I am amazed at the useful things people throw away and it really, really bothers me. If your TV still works, drop it off at a shelter, a nursing home, a rehab center. Even without a remote it can be used by bored patients or people who have nothing to do for hours on end. Your unwanted bike can be smashed up in a garbage truck, or used for many more years by a child or adult. Call Purple Heart, stop by the Salvation Army, does it really take that much more time? Or call a friend to come get it and take it there for you! Better yet, list it on Craigslist in the free section (my things are usually gone within HOURS of posting them) or use Freecycle sites. Please be a better steward of our planet! Oh, and by the way, I'm sure you are already recycling plastic, etc. so I won't even go into that rant.
A new cell tower is proposed on Middle Road west of Hickory Ridge. Nearby residents are understandably up in arms. I'm sure there will be many more requests for more cell towers in our rural township. The easy solution to unsightly cell towers is to insist that they be camouflaged. There is a huge tall green pine near 14 and Orchard Lake that is actually a cell tower. This would be a perfect fit for our natural area. It is clear that cell tower need and use will be growing exponentially in upcoming years. Requiring companies to hide them so they blend in with the surroundings is key. Since Highland is so green, natural and rural, using a fake pine tree model would seem the best idea in my opinion.
"I can't wait to get out fishing!" exclaimed my brother as we chattered away on our way to my lakeside cottage up north. Just then I slammed on the brakes! "What's wrong?" my brother cried. "A turtle!" I yelled as I leaped from the car and raced to the side of the road. I grabbed the huge turtle just as another car was rapidly approaching behind us. Saved! Rushing back to the car, we examined the huge reptile. "It's a box turtle" Ben insisted. "And look, its been hit before." Nope, not a box turtle - I was sure. But what kind was it? "Remember when we tried to raise a box turtle as a pet and it got away after one day?" Dan mused. "Crawled right under the chicken wire and it was history! (My mother was a kindergarten teacher and avid amateur scientist so we had lots of pets as kids...snakes, a praying mantis, turtles, an alligator, a horned toad, frogs, fish, many guinea pigs, and rabbits). As soon as we got back, I checked my mom's old pocket guide, the Golden Book of Reptiles. It was a Blandings turtle! Rare, endangered! Wow. Habitat? Woodlands, vernal ponds, marshy, swampy areas...hmmmm. Not lake turtles. Okay, but behind the neighbor's barn was a huge wetland and swampy area teeming with frogs, insects, snakes and other critters. Perfect! After one last look, we released him into his new, safer habitat.
Below is the text for Highland Conservancy's strong objection to Highland Township's request for a variance to install a flashing electronic sign above the current sign at the entrance to the library and post office.
Highland Township Zoning Board of Appeals
205 N. John St.
Highland, Michigan 48357
April 1, 2014
Re: Case 14-02
Dear ZBA Members,
This letter is being written in objection to the requested sign size variance for the following reasons:
1. The existing sign at the Town Center was widely hailed as the best looking sign in Highland when it
was originally erected. Its natural elements arranged artistically were a model for how attractive signs
could be constructed to reflect as a visual indicator of the values of the community. Electronic (LED)
signs are widely considered to be annoying and unattractive. To take the existing attractive “model” sign and degrade it with electronic elements that are not an expression of the values of the community is unacceptable and counter to the direction that the Planning Department has been guiding private
2. It sets a bad precedent and presents a bad model for the local governing body to grant a variance to
another government body for relief from standards that the rest of the community are expected to
3. The requested variance is major (on the order of 200% of the allowable size) and there is no practical difficulty adhering to the ordinance and leaving the existing beautiful sign alone. Off premise advertising has been highly restricted for decades in Highland and the proposed sign would also venture into that realm.
The Directors of the Highland Conservancy believe that the sign should reflect the natural values and
rural character of Highland and that this proposal takes us in the wrong direction for all of the above
reasons and that the variance should be rejected.
President - Highland Conservancy
This Saturday, April 5, 2014, Highland had more than 650 cars that dropped of all kinds of hazardous waste. Everything from tires, old computers, dead batteries, and dangerous chemicals are now being recycled and kept out of landfills. A huge thanks goes out to all our volunteers who helped make this event a success. And as our reporter on the scene Matt Haz says "Good going Highland!!!"
This is our ongoing blog with articles on the environment, local news and events, and issues related to land conservation.