Michigan's Areas of Concern (AOC) Program is under-going another metamorphosis due to recent reductions in program staff at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). In November 1995, six staff positions were reassigned from the AOC Program to other Surface Water Quality Division activities aimed at eliminating the NPDES permit backlog. The change in the program administration means there will be less leadership from MDEQ in the individual Remedial Action Plan (RAP) efforts. This change comes two years after an extensive effort to streamline Michigan's RAP process, reduce bureaucratic oversight and increase the effectiveness of the partnerships developing through the RAP process. The most recent change is an acceleration in the trend toward local leadership in the RAP process and away from state-lead efforts.
The most significant change in Michigan's AOC Program is that MDEQ will no longer have RAP coordinators for each RAP. This means a big change in how MDEQ will be able to support the individual RAPs. It does not mark the end of a successful RAP effort in Michigan, nor does it mark an end in MDEQ's involvement in the RAP process. The AOC Program staff have been working with the Statewide Public Advisory Council, local Public Advisory Councils (PACs) and MDEQ management to determine how to most effectively use the remaining AOC Program resources, and to ensure continued success for the RAPs. Some of the ways in which MDEQ continues to support and participate in the RAPs are as follows.
RAP implementation and watershed protection efforts can continue to thrive with strong local leadership and initiative, despite the reduction in leadership by MDEQ. G. Tracy Mehan, Director of Michigan's Office of the Great Lakes, believes that "RAPs are now more critical than ever. As both the federal and state governments confront their fiscal problems, we must form authentic partnerships with public and private stakeholders which are designed for the long haul. While this is agony in the short term, it is the only way to provide long-term continuity in terms of resources management."
The RAP process is a unique and cutting-edge approach to restoring and protecting our watersheds. A great deal of progress has already been made through the hard work and dedication of the many individuals on the PACs, work groups, and RAP teams. Your work to-date will not be lost regardless of what the future holds. However, more and greater success stories are possible if all RAP participants work together to identify new, innovative ways to build on previous efforts.
The recent reorganization of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) into two agencies (MDNR to focus on resource issues and the new Department of Environmental Quality to focus on environmental protection), along with federal funding cuts for the Areas of Concern Program have forced us all to rethink how we do things and how we might still accomplish the very important goals that have been set at both the local and statewide level.
Less MDEQ staff support certainly means more leadership responsibilities for local PACs and, as mentioned at SPAC meetings, a search for the clout and authority some believe was bestowed upon us by MDNR's involvement in the process and its appointment of Public Advisory Council (PACs) members.
While this may be true, if one really analyzes the success stories of PACs over the past few years, we find that they have largely been due to local leadership and community efforts. Large issues of major cleanups still remain the responsibility of state and federal agencies and, both locally and at the SPAC level, we need to continue to monitor those programs and advocate for commitment and action to get the job done.
Locally, issues such as planning and zoning; involvement of all stakeholders; citizen education and awareness; and balancing resource protection with community needs demands our attention and continued involvement.
Over the years as I have worked in the Chamber of Commerce field, I have seen government programs and funding come and go. They are almost always replaced with new initiatives and policies and renewed commitment to fundamental goals. I am sure this will happen with the Great Lakes Initiative and the Areas of Concern Program.
In the meantime, we can continue our efforts locally, be effective advocates for sensible and realistic programs and lobby for future priorities. At the statewide level, the SPAC continues to do just that, while also making every effort to advance the process, keep local RAP participants informed, and provide opportunities for training and the exchange of information and ideas.
The upcoming regional RAP workshops are one example of the SPAC's continued commitment to local leadership for the RAPs (see pages 6-7 for details). The workshops will provide valuable training and information, and I encourage PAC members to attend them and to bring along other RAP participants, such as local elected officials, agency staff, and business leaders. I will be there and I hope you will be, too.
To help the SPAC step up to the challenge of enhancing local leadership, Jim Haveman from the Northwest Michigan Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D Council) spoke at the SPAC's January 1996 meeting on the partnership agreement process and strategies for strengthening local leadership. In particular, he discussed the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Initiative (Initiative) partnership and its similarity to PACs.
The Initiative has followed a popular resource management trend in northern Michigan_the use of Partnership Agreements. Each year more projects use this process to solve complex resource and community issues. The partnership agreement process offers people a welcome alternative to the traditional, top-down, regulation-driven approach used in the past to make decisions about natural resources.
The RC&D Council has been utilizing partnership agreements for the last ten years to manage long-term restoration and protection projects. The approach is based on helping local leaders to identify common ground and goals, and to devise and carry out their own solutions.
In early 1995, the RC&D Council received a second grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide training on partnership agreements throughout the Great Lakes Basin. Twelve organizations were selected to receive specialized training and assistance.
Although the process is strongly rooted in common sense, it is not necessarily simple to apply. Haveman advises, "The Partnership Agreement is not just a piece of paper, it's a process, and success depends on special skills, careful planning and constant communication. These are the skills that are taught in the workshop."
The value of partnerships was recognized last May at the Fifth Annual Michigan Citizens' Conference on the Great Lakes Areas of Concern Program in East Lansing. One of the recommendations was that partnerships will be the key to generating the resources to implement the RAPs (see page 5 for a complete list of recommendations from the conference). Participants recognized that partnerships can build upon the particular strengths of each agency or organization while focusing on a common purpose. Communication among partners helps identify and resolve disagreements, and in the end empowers each to do what they can do best!
In July, a similar message was heard at a roundtable discussion entitled "Evaluating Successful Strategies for Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans" sponsored by the International Joint Commission and the Johnson Foundation. To start the discussion, a tentative list called "Pillars of Successful Strategies" was developed. One of the pillars involved using different forms of nonlegal, nonbinding, informal partnerships. It was agreed that partnerships provide "safe places" where community connections, support systems, productive communication and respect between partners flourish for the benefit of the project.
Haveman noted that although funding for this phase of training is committed, additional funding for a phase III effort may be available. Groups interested in training are invited to apply in writing to the Northwest Michigan RC&D Council or call (616) 946-6817.
Ten years after the beginning of the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) process, partnerships are increasingly viewed as a vital tool in efforts to restore beneficial uses in the Areas of Concern (AOCs). The partnership model has been at work in the Clinton River AOC from the start. The Public Advisory Council (PAC) was formed with considerable encouragement and assistance from the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) and most of the early members of the PAC had a prior association with the CRWC.
The common aim for which both groups are working is a clean and healthy Clinton River. For almost 20 years the CRWC has provided assistance services to local governments and public information and outreach programs within the watershed. The natural roles evolved for the PAC to focus on advancing the RAP and SPAC programs while the CRWC continued to improve on its existing role in a mutually supporting partnership for preservation, preventative and remedial actions for the benefit of the Clinton River watershed.
In the process of updating the initial 1988 RAP it became evident that the AOC's problems were much greater and more complicated than had been initially perceived. RAP technical work groups identified a critical need for a comprehensive data base system that could support remedial and preventive activities, monitoring and research. Such a system was envisioned as a place in which a wide variety of historic and ongoing materials would be assembled and made accessible. Neither the PAC or CRWC had the capabilities or resources to design, implement, manage or maintain such a complex and comprehensive data system. A new partnership was needed and PAC members Professors Robbin Hough and Frank Butterworth succeeded in involving Oakland University as a third senior partner in the Clinton River RAP process.
While the University is involved in a number of ways, the monitoring plan developed during 1995 illustrates a particularly valuable strength that it provides as a partner in the RAP process. The ultimate aim of the project is a community where river monitoring information can be gathered, shared, discussed and transferred to researchers to improve the future of the basin community.
The Clinton River Basin is a rapidly growing, 760-square-mile ecosystem at the northern edge of Detroit with a population density of nearly 1,600 persons per square mile. Intense development, has, for all practical purposes, bound each square mile of the space. This development has essentially made the river "invisible" to the persons concerned with its condition and hence to the condition of the living systems that come into contact with it. It has contributed to several unpleasant surprises which communities along the river have had to face in recent years.
The monitoring plan consists of five components: a practical means for characterizing the basin; evaluating key facets of the basin on a regular basis; establishing evaluation benchmarks and reasonable comparisons; establishing a collaborative process to make the river and its condition visible to local communities; and providing a firm financial footing for future monitoring activities.
Characterizing the basin: Biological organisms have symmetry. The human face, the maple leaf, an ant and most other biological organisms can be viewed according to their right and left sides, which are, by nature, mirror images of one another. Insofar as organisms are placed under stress, the stress is visible in the failure of the organism to maintain its bilateral symmetry. The stress under which subunits of the river and the basin itself are being placed may be characterized by the indices based on that bilateral symmetry.
Evaluating key facets of the basin: The methods adopted for gathering information on this form of stress may be more or less complicated in concept. In a most simple form, school children might be asked to bring leaves from the maple tree nearest their home. Their homes can be located by latitude and longitude utilizing their street address and LandView software developed by the U.S. EPA and the Census Bureau. Scanned images of the leaves may be processed by a computer used to produce a simple index of stress for each leaf returned based on the level of bilateral symmetry it shows.
Establishing evaluation benchmarks: Based on well-designed sampling plans, information on stressed biological populations may be periodically gathered and compared to previous conditions in the same space and in relation to a range of assembled benchmarks. For example, one study examined salinity levels as a source of stress on Clinton River biota. Salinity levels were found to have risen strongly over the past 20 years. In fact, salinity levels in the Clinton River were exceeded in only four of the 109 rivers to which it was compared. The present annual average of about 95 mg/l is nearly 50 mg/l more than the average of its nearest rival and there are not seasonal trends.
When the sources and measures of stress can be identified and made visible with a considerable degree of certainty, it is important that this information, and the options available to address the problem, be communicated to the public and policy makers.
For salinity, studies have shown that, without human impacts, a level of approximately 1 mg/l would be found in nature. Potential sources for levels above this include road salt, water softener salt, and industrial and agricultural uses.
Establishing a collaborative process: The strongest supporters and most enthusiastic participants in many community programs are the adults raising school-age children. A collaborative process which engages science teachers, children and their parents in a dialogue with scientists capable of making the river visible provides a starting place for an effective river monitoring program. Currently-available technologies provide a number of forms of support for such a collaboration.
Providing a firm financial footing for future monitoring activities: Many of the 51 school districts in the Clinton River Basin have well staffed adjunct science programs relating to the environment. The monitoring program described above and being developed by Oakland University and its AOC partners is entirely appropriate for inclusion in school science programs both inside and outside of normal curricular options. Providing a firm financial footing for this, and other RAP goals, is the next step, and one which the AOC partners are aggressively pursuing.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has awarded five grants to support RAP efforts in the current year. The grants were selected from proposals submitted during the 1995 request for proposal process. The following is a brief summary of the grants.
The Muskegon County Soil Conservation District received a grant for $61,307 (including a 22 percent local match) to provide local coordination for the White Lake and Muskegon Lake RAPs, including support for both AOCs' Public Advisory Councils (PACs), local education initiatives, and small RAP implementation projects.
The Region 2 Planning Commission will receive a grant for $17,824 (including a 10 percent local match) to assist with developing the River Raisin RAP biennial report and to provide staff support for the River Raisin PAC.
The Saginaw Bay Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc. received a grant for $34,330 (including a 27 percent local match) to implement a portion of the public component of the Saginaw Bay small watershed prioritization process. This effort seems to be a feasible solution to continued public involvement in the protection and restoration of the Saginaw Bay watershed.
The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy received a grant for $19,000 (including a 10 percent local match) to facilitate the Kalamazoo River PAC and various small RAP implementation projects.
The Great Lakes Commission has been awarded a grant for $78,494 (including a 10 percent match) to provide programmatic and administrative support to the SPAC. Supporting the SPAC for the third consecutive year, the Commission will coordinate the SPAC's quarterly meetings, produce the SPAC newsletter, organize the regional RAP workshops (see article on page one), and coordinate the SPAC's other activities.
In addition to these grants, a Section 604(b) grant is currently pending for work on the St. Marys River RAP.
Finally, MDEQ is offering $5,000 to each AOC for use on a specific RAP activity. This special program was developed in response to a suggestion from the SPAC. Applications for the funding, which must identify the activity to be pursued and its connection to the RAP, are being coordinated through the PACs and the RAP contacts. In AOCs where PACs have not been established, the funding request will be handled by the SPAC member. For more details, contact your PAC chair or SPAC representative.
The 1995 Citizens' Conference on the Great Lakes Areas of Concern Program brought together a broad range of RAP participants for an intense, daylong series of discussions focused on the major challenges facing the state's RAPs. A number of prominent themes ran throughout these discussions, and the Statewide Public Advisory Council, the conference sponsor, has distilled these themes into the following key recommendations for a successful RAP. The recommendations are part of a larger Proceedings Document which summarizes the conference discussions. For a free copy of the full Proceedings Document, contact Matt Doss of the SPAC support staff at (313) 665-9135.
The Lake Michigan Federation's Muskegon, MI office has received $40,680 from the U.S. EPA to assess habitat in the White Lake AOC.
The goal of the project is to compile historical and existing information on White Lake area habitat to establish an information base for analysis of historical losses and stresses and documentation of existing habitat. This information can then be used to develop recommendations for future restoration and protection measures and to assist and inform decision making by local entities and the Department of Environmental Quality.
The project's steering committee will be the White Lake PAC. The habitat assessment project fulfills a priority recommendation of the Bienneial RAP Update, which recommends measures to assess, protect, and restore native wildlife habitat to improve fish and wildlife populations. This project, to be completed by September, 1996, will also be a habitat protection model for other Great Lakes AOCs.
For more information on the project, please contact the Lake Michigan Federation at (616) 722-5116.
The Clinton River Watershed Remedial and Preventive Action Plan: 1995 Update was presented to the public at a PAC meeting on January 11, 1995.
The 1988 RAP recommended 23 actions for a limited Lower Clinton River AOC. The PAC expanded the AOC to include the whole watershed and the 1995 RAP Update recommends a total of 84 actions. It is significant that local governments and watershed organizations have the lead or a major action role in most of the recommended actions: counties have 34, municipalities have 25, the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) has 18, and Oakland University has 8. This compares with 22 for MDEQ, 7 for NRCS, 5 for the Army Corps of Engineers, and 4 each for U.S. EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Two, half-hour local COMCAST TV, Earth Watch interview programs featured the 1995 RAP Update and Oakland University's role in RAP actions. The PAC meeting and RAP recommendations were covered in several newspaper articles.
Using a MDEQ grant, the CRWC and the Macomb and Oakland County Health Departments conducted an On-Site Disposal System Survey (septic survey), which confirmed that leaking septic systems are one of the major sources contributing to the high levels of bacteria in the Clinton River and its tributaries. This already has resulted in significant actions being taken by several local governments to identify and correct leaking systems.
A "Clinton River/Lake St. Clair Bacteria Technical Summit" sponsored by the Southeast Michigan Areawide Water Quality Board and CRWC was held on January 25, 1996 in Detroit. The summit brought together engineers and researchers involved with bacteria contamination to compare knowledge, determine data gaps and identify needed actions. Briefing papers were presented and a report is expected in April.
The Detroit River Binational Public Advisory Council (BPAC) held a meeting in Windsor on February 6, 1996 to discuss the direction the council should take in light of the State of Michigan's reductions in support to the RAP process. MDEQ is the lead agency for the Detroit River RAP, which is a binational AOC.
Both U.S. and Canadian BPAC members expressed their commitment to continue to work together on the Detroit River RAP. The structure of the Council, however, would need to be revised to reflect the shift in responsibility to the local level. Aside from issues of organizational restructuring, the fact that the revised draft Biennial Report was not available at the February meeting had many BPAC members very disappointed. The due date has now been extended to April 1996, nearly two years overdue from the original date. Several members of the BPAC continue to question the meaning of the "streamlining" process for RAPs.
Editor's Note: The Final Draft RAP Report is now available. For a copy, contact Bill Parkus at SEMCOG at (313) 961-4266.
The Kalamazoo River AOC PAC has a new RAP contact. In fact, because of the recent MDEQ cuts in the RAP program, Roger Eberhardt, our new RAP contact, and Bob Sweet are the only two RAP contacts left in Michigan's RAP program. We are not pleased with this decimation of staff and have written to the governor about this. The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners has also written to the state conveying their concerns.
Many PAC members are concerned that after more than 10 years of false starts on the Kalamazoo River RAP, the state is once again moving to reduce their involvement while still paying lip service to the issue of citizen participation and public input.
In spite of Michigan's lack of commitment to true cleanup and restoration of impaired uses in the Great Lakes, the Kalamazoo River AOC PAC is moving ahead to write its RAP and to identify impaired uses. We believe that incorporating human health risks in the RAP is a must and that amphibians, wildlife other than fish and biota are also at risk in our watershed and must be addressed within our RAP for it to be an honest document and of some real value once completed.
In an effort to educate citizens in the Great Lakes region about common problems and solutions regarding watershed and coastal zone issues, the Kalamazoo River AOC PAC, with the support of the National Association of Counties, the Michigan Association of Counties, the U.S. EPA's Coastal Zone Management Office, the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners and others will be sponsoring a coastal management workshop in Kalamazoo some time in October of this year. For more information contact Mary Powers at 616/345-9295, fax 616/345-9609.
As you may recall, under a U.S. EPA Consent Order, Manistique Papers, Inc. and Edison Sault conducted an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis to evaluate several possible technological alternatives for addressing PCB-affected sediments in the Manistique River and Harbor. U.S. EPA reviewed the alternatives and selected an approach which the companies agreed to in May of 1995. The approach consists of a combination of two technologies: capping to contain PCB contamination in areas of the river and harbor to be done by the companies; and a dredging project to be conducted by U.S. EPA to remove contaminated sediment from an upstream area of the river.
During the summer of 1995, U.S. EPA began its demonstration project and tested innovative dredging and treatment technologies in which they used diver-assisted hydraulic dredging. Several silt barriers were installed to minimize sediment releases from the dredging area and a treatment plant was constructed to separate sediments from the river water and return PCB-free water to the river. Sediment that was dredged from the river was dewatered and transported for proper disposal at a commercial PCB disposal facility in Model City, New York. Approximately 10,000 cubic yards of sediment were removed and the treated water was monitored prior to being discharged back into the river. The removed sediments were transported to the disposal facility. Due to cold weather, U.S. EPA had to temporarily suspend their dredging activities in November, 1995 but plan to resume this spring.
U.S. EPA has informed the companies that its pilot project is successful and that, based on monitoring conducted during the dredging, there were no measurable releases of PCBs. Based on the results of the dredging project, the companies are discussing with U.S. EPA the possibility of an alternative remedy to capping.
The Manistique River AOC RAP is being finalized and will be printed this spring.
The Muskegon Lake PAC continues to be active in efforts to increase public involvement in the restoration and protection of Muskegon Lake. As a result of the Muskegon County Soil Conservation District's (MCSCD) 1995 RAP Implementation/PAC Support Project, the PAC identified studies needed to fill data gaps in the 1994 RAP. These studies, which are available through the MSCSD office, include the Muskegon Lake Littoral Aquatic Plant Survey, the Muskegon Lake Wildlife Habitat Assessment, and the Muskegon Lake and White Lake Watershed Study. The 1996 volunteer LakeWatch program will also expand to include dissolved oxygen monitoring and a benthic organism survey. As a result of the completed studies and LakeWatch data, specific actions are being identified to remediate currently-impaired uses in the AOC.
New public involvement activities for 1996 include a marsh monitoring program. PAC members attended training at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park given by Lori Sargent, the coordinator for the Frog and Toad Survey being conducted by MDNR/Wildlife Division's Natural Heritage Program. An additional workshop will be held this spring to help participants set up survey routes and to train additional volunteers for 1997. The Muskegon Lake AOC program will be fully underway in the spring of 1997. The monitoring data gathered in 1997 will be made available to the Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP), a collaborative effort of the Long Point Bird Observatory, Environment Canada and the U.S. Great Lakes Protection Fund.
The information gathered by the MMP will be used, in part, to assess the progress and success of marsh rehabilitation efforts, especially those in the 43 AOCs around the Great Lakes. Each year the data collected in the LakeWatch, Marsh Monitoring and Adopt-A-Stream programs will be made available locally, through the PAC Repository at Muskegon Community College, as well as through the Muskegon County Soil Conservation District.
As a result of public concern, former Muskegon Lake RAP Coordinator Rick Lundgren coordinated sampling and analysis of sediments in Ruddiman Lagoon in the summer of 1995. The Lagoon, located in a popular neighborhood park adjacent to Muskegon Lake, is widely utilized for recreation by families and children. As a result, the Muskegon County Health Department will post the area unfit for bodily contact. The PAC expresses its thanks to Rick for all his service in ensuring the health, safety and welfare of Muskegon Lake area residents.
Under the auspices of the Rouge RAP, MDEQ held a Soil Erosion Symposium on February 15. The participants, including officials who enforce soil erosion regulations in the Rouge Watershed, shared ideas on how to remove barriers in their programs. The symposium was a great success and will be followed up by three subcommittees that will address issues of enforcement, education, and staffing/funding. For more information contact Martin Hendges at (313) 953-1470.
A number of Rouge RAP activities are underway. The Habitat Subcommittee has submitted a proposal to conduct a habitat survey and volunteer monitoring project in a subwatershed in the headwaters of the Rouge River. They have also planned part of the May 3, 1996 "Practical and Cost-Effective Watershed Management Conference" being sponsored by the Michigan Water Environment Association, MDEQ, the SPAC and a number of other agencies and organizations. For more information, contact Fred Cowles at MDEQ at (517) 335-4127.
The final phase of "reorganization" was completed in February when the newly created Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed (PSBW) elected and seated its first board of directors. The PSBW emerged from two separate organizations - the Saginaw Bay Watershed Council (composed of local governmental officials) and the Saginaw Basin Alliance (a citizens group).
Several months ago, the two original organizations decided to merge. The plan turned into a very complex problem, which was solved by looking at various corporate structures employed by other large estuary groups. The new PSBW hopes to accommodate the 1.5 million residents of the watershed and retain the flexibility to provide appropriate responses (in the form of education, services, etc.) to all segments of the watershed, including agribusiness, industry, and both the rural and urban populace. In addition to a typical "reactive" response, the PSBW also engages in "proactive" planning in dozens of areas, with the number constantly expanding.
The new, 30-member Board of Directors directly represents local governmental officials, citizens, sub-watersheds, conservation and environmental groups, business, industry, and agribusiness. With 28 board seats currently filled, the board has established five standing committees which include both watershed residents and PSBW members and "outside" persons valued for certain fields of expertise. The PSBW not only retains but is strengthening working relationships with other groups, including the Michigan Lake & Stream Association, North American Lake Management Society, East Central Michigan Planning & Development Region, Saginaw Bay Resource Conservation & Development, Michigan Society of Planning Officials, as well as drain commissioners and state and local agencies.
So why so many ties and so much effort at "networking?" The PSBW board feels very strongly that, in order to truly evolve into a successful PAC, incoming information and ground-level sensitivity are paramount.
Another initiative supported by the PSBW is WETNET, a student-gathered water quality database for use by classrooms, industry, government, private groups, or virtually anyone concerned with water quality in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. As a cooperative school water quality monitoring and data management program, WETNET focuses on three primary goals: hands-on learning, learning environmental stewardship, and interactive computer maps on the Internet. Students test surface waters (lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, drains, ditches, and wetlands) for pH, DO, BOD, nitrates, phosphates, temperature, total solids, turbidity and fecal coliform.
Currently more than 80 schools in the Saginaw Bay Watershed gather data at over 150 sites, which is then used to construct interactive computer maps of the entire Saginaw Basin. This information is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web and the University of Michigan's Internet weather project, Blue Skies. This spin-off of the PSBW's school river monitoring program is now coordinated by Tim Wheatley at Goodrich Middle/High Schools, 8029 S. Gale Road, Goodrich, MI 48438; phone 810/636-2253, fax 810/636-2550; email twheatle@ genesee.freenet.org.
The Internet gopher address for WETNET is: mammatus.sprl.umich.edu in Curriculum_Materials/Water_ Quality/Saginaw_Bay.iif.
In 1995 more than 180 local officials as well as many individual citizens participated in land-use visioning workshops funded by a grant from MDEQ's Coastal Management Program. In 1996 the workshops will build on the visions and will present case examples of successful planning within the Saginaw Bay Watershed.
Finally, the PSBW encourages all persons, including nonresidents of the watershed, to attend and participate in all meetings of the board and its committees. Meetings of the full board of directors are held on the first Wednesday of each even-numbered month at 7:00 p.m. Meetings of the executive committee are held on the first Wednesday of each odd-numbered month at 5:30 p.m. Meetings are held at the PSBW offices at Saginaw Valley State University, Pioneer Annex 9A, University Center, MI 48710. For more information, call (517) 791-7367, or PSBW Chair Cheryl King at (810) 629-0238, or PSBW Secretary Debbie McCarty at (810) 629-4216.
Even though we've been pretty busy digging our way out from under the almost 280 inches of snowfall so far this winter, several things have been accomplished worth reporting. Among them is the completion of the first phase in planning for the Keweenaw Watertrail. Developed by the Keweenaw Watertrail Association, the watertrail will be the first leg of Michigan's portion of the much larger Lake Superior Watertrail. Designed as a clearly marked, safe, easily accessible water pathway, it will include primitive campsites for low impact boaters paddling across the Keweenaw Peninsula as they travel from western to eastern Lake Superior. The trail will not only utilize existing municipal shoreline campgrounds, but plans also include placing some campsites on stampsand areas once they have been remediated.
Remediation planning has also continued for the treatment of 620 acres of above-water stampsand deposits in Torch Lake. Eroding at a rate of 19 to 25 tons per acre per year, the plan calls for capping these heavy-metal contaminated mine tailings with over 250,000 cubic yards of sandy loam soil to stop the continuous recontamination of the lake and connecting Keweenaw Waterway. Once in place, the cap will be seeded, fertilized, mulched and irrigated until the vegetation is established.
The excavation of the 25-30 acre soil borrow site will result in the incidental creation of a high-quality waterfowl nesting, wetland habitat. The National Resources Conservation Service's Torch Lake project manager will be releasing bird packets to interested potential contractors early this spring. The big question is whether congress will allow the U.S. EPA to release the funding already allocated for the project.
Torch Lake is one of two AOCs in Michigan without a local PAC (the U.P.'s Deer Lake is the other). Initial planning began this winter to form a local stakeholder group which we hope to have in place by next fall. More about that in the next update.
Meanwhile, MDEQ has severely reduced staffing of its AOC Program, from 9.5 to 3.5 employees, with a complete staff phaseout over the next three fiscal years. Their strategy is to accelerate the transfer of RAP leadership from the state to the local PACs over that period of time. The impact of this policy is potentially very serious for both Torch and Deer lake as neither AOC has any existing PAC infrastructure to accept leadership for the RAP. Further complicating the issue, their RAPs were written in 1987 without significant stakeholder input and do not systematically address IJC use impairment criteria. Details have yet to be announced so we are anxiously awaiting clarification of the policy as it applies to our circumstances. I would appreciate your comments on this or any other Torch Lake topic you might like to discuss. Please feel free to contact me at (906) 482-0443.
The Muskegon County Soil Conservation District recently received funding to continue local coordination of the White Lake and Muskegon Lake RAPs. The funding will provide staff support for the PACs, development of a 1996 workplan, educational programs, and remedial actions identified by the PAC. The White Lake PAC is glad to have its local coordinator, Theresa Lauber, and assistant, Kathy Evans, back on the job!
An aquatic plant assessment conducted last summer with funds from MDEQ and U.S. EPA provided information on the location of aquatic plants, species and their abundance. The PAC will use this baseline database to encourage sound decision making on and around the lake.
A Remedial Investigation conducted by Whitehall Leather Company to deter-mine the scope of contamination is currently being reviewed by MDEQ. State officials will report on the status of the site at the PAC's April meeting.
The Hazardous Substance Research Center at Michigan State University, which offered its assistance to the PAC regarding the Whitehall Leather site, has compiled existing studies and historical information on the site and will summarize their findings at a community meeting hosted by the PAC.
Community residents and the PAC are anxiously awaiting the beginning of a study by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab of Muskegon to determine the effects of mercury and chromium contamination on living organisms in White Lake. Scientists from the lab have asked the PAC to participate in the study by helping with sampling and other related activities. The U.S. EPA is expected to fund the study this spring.
The PAC has taken an active community role in monitoring and encouraging cleanup of the site. The PAC is currently considering its position regarding potential clean-up options, questions on the ability of the company to pay for the cleanup, and how to be involved in official negotiations regarding the site.
The PAC recently expressed its opposition to expansion of the Ellenwood Marina on the City of Montague waterfront. The expansion had originally been denied by MDNR. A recent settlement between the MDEQ (now with oversight) and the applicant that left out the City of Montague, an intervenor in the case, has been hotly contested in the White Lake area. The PAC voted to oppose the expansion because of its potential impact on remaining fish habitat in White Lake. The 1995 RAP Update noted the loss of fisheries habitat in the lake and recommended further studies to quantify losses and identify protective measures.
Editor's Note: Several of the AOC Updates refer to changes in Michigan's AOC Program. For further details on these changes, please see the article "Michigan's AOC Program Undergoes Changes" on page one.
Representative: William Smith, Mt. Clemens
Alternate: Spencer V. Teller, Shelby Township
Representative: James Russell-Parks, Marquette
Alternate: Philip Doepke, Marquette
Representative: Mary Ginnebaugh, Grosse Ile
Alternate: Richard Armstrong, Detroit
Representative: Mary Powers, Kalamazoo
Alternate: Robert Beck, Hopkins
Representative: Leif Christensen, Manistique
Alternate: Merilee Blowers, Manistique
Representative: Nancy Douglas (Chair), Menominee
Alternate: George Rogers, Menominee
Representative: Kathleen Evans, Muskegon
Alternate: Roland Crummel, Muskegon
Representative: Vivian Brighton, Hudson
Alternate: Dan Stefanski, Monroe
Representative: Keith Krinn (Vice Chair), Pontiac
Alternate: Orin Gelderloos, Dearborn
Representative: Dennis Zimmerman, Lake George
Alternate: Charles Lyon, Frankenmuth
St. Clair River
Representative: Bob Spagnoli, Fort Gratiot
(313) 845-8037 (w)
Alternate: Joe Gallagher, Port Huron
St. Marys River
Representative: Marvin Besteman, Rudyard
Alternate: Jarl Hiltunen, Sault Ste. Marie
Representative: James A. Spence, Dollar Bay
Alternate: Robert T. Brown, Houghton
Representative: Tanya Cabala, Whitehall
Alternate: Thomas E. Hamilton, Montague
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