BY JENNIE BRAATZ
Groundhog Day, which comes around each year on Feb. 2, is known by many to be a prediction of spring’s arrival.
In Southeast Michigan and across the world this day holds significance for another reason. It is also World Wetlands Day, a day to honor the treaty adopted by conservationists around the world on Feb. 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. The treaty provides the framework for designating a “Wetland of International Importance.”
These wetlands (“Ramsar Sites”) are located in over 160 countries. There are over 2,000 throughout the world and 38 Ramsar sites in the United States. There is only one in Michigan, Humbug Marsh, and a unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
This past Feb. 2 was the seventh-annual World Wetlands Day at Gibraltar Carlson High School in Gibraltar. Many local environmental organizations contributed their time in sharing the importance of wetlands to wildlife and people through a wetlands expo for students. Of course, Humbug Marsh was the star!
The event has been made possible by the dedication and passion of high school science teacher and event coordinator, Crystal Fowler. Fowler has been incorporating wetland science into her curriculum for years and has complimented her lessons with visits to the refuge.
For the past six years the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office have participated. This year three more wildlife refuges joined the festivities. Seney, Shiawassee and Ottawa national wildlife refuges attended with fun and interactive wetland activities.
More than 2,400 students in grades three through 12 attended the event. All feedback received from students has been positive and many have shown interest in entering the conservation field.
For these future conservationists, every day is World Wetlands Day! To learn more about Ramsar, please visit http://www.ramsar.org/.
Annual Riverkeeper fundraiser is in April
The Friends of the Detroit River will hold its annual “Keep-the Boat-Afloat” fundraising dinner Saturday, April 9. at the Wyandotte Boat Club. The gathering is being sponsored by Environmental Consulting and Technology Inc. and Smith Group JJR.
This event is held each year to support the work done by the Detroit Riverkeeper and FDR. The Riverkeeper is responsible for patrolling the river by boat, looking for water pollution and other related problems affecting the river and its habitats. The Riverkeeper and FDR also are working with the Detroit River Public Advisory Council, a group established to address Beneficial Use Impairments to the Detroit River. Two of these BUIs are related to the loss of fish and wildlife populations and the loss of wildlife habitat.
One of the efforts that the group is currently undertaking to address these BUIs is the planning of several habitat restoration projects along the Detroit River, including projects on Belle Isle. A representative from JJR, an engineering firm which is working with FDR to design the construction plans, will give a presentation on the development and design work that has been completed for the projects on Belle Isle.
Along with this presentation, the event includes an opportunity for social networking, a catered dinner by Cari Ann’s Catering, door prizes and a silent auction. It is always a pleasant evening with good food, good friends, and a great view of the Detroit River, the view courtesy of our friends from the Wyandotte Boat Club.
Those interested in attending this event to learn more about these projects and to support the work that FDR does can get further information on FDR’s website at www.detroitriver.org, or call the office at (734) 288-3889.
Volunteers will gather for 14th annual river cleanup
Area residents are welcome to join the Friends of the Detroit River Saturday, April 23, for its annual Friends of the Detroit River Lower Detroit River Cleanup event.
This will be the 14th year in a row that FDR will hold this event and this year it is sponsored by the DTE Foundation. The event will start out from Trenton Rotary Park, at the foot of Harrison Road on the Detroit River.
Over the past 13 years, FDR has been fortunate to attract a small army of dedicated volunteers. What makes their clean up event unique, from most other such clean-up events that take place in our local watersheds each spring, is that theirs relies on a small flotilla of boats to get their volunteers out to the various islands and shorelines that are only accessible by water.
Many of these sites are the recipient of much of the trash and debris that makes its way into the river from spring storm run-off and if it wasn’t for the dedicated work of their volunteers, this trash and debris would continue to collect along these otherwise inaccessible shorelines.
This year volunteers will be meeting at Trenton Rotary Park for the pre-cleanup orientation at 9 a.m. At that time volunteers who wish to get out on the River will be paired up with a boat and be assigned a cleanup site. Volunteers should dress for the weather, wear boots, have gloves and bring an extra life jacket if they have one. Those with boats on a trailer will be able to use the park’s boat launch to launch their boats free of charge or drive their boat up to the park to dock and pick up volunteers.
For those who would like to help out, but aren’t able to get out on the water, FDR is always in need of volunteers to help with shore based activities including unloading the boats as they come back to the park. Lunch will be provided to all who help out at the event.
If you would like to sign up for this event, or have a boat that you would be able to supply, give them a call at (734) 676-4626. You can also get additional information and download a flier with a map at www.detroitriver.org.
Program aims to inspire future authors
The Book Club of Grosse Ile will host author and teacher Nichole Payne March 18 at the Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club. Her presentation, “Finding the Author In You,” will take place at 1 p.m.
Payne, a Grosse Ile resident, graduated from Eastern Michigan University and obtained a master of arts degree from the University of Michigan. She taught preschool through eighth grade.
Her experience in teaching writing grew her desire to write herself. She began writing stories with her students and reaching out to publishers. Many of her stories are inspired by her own children.
Guests are welcome to attend this event. Call (734) 675-8191 for more information.