Row, Baby, Row

An organized and pre-scripted group of Ann Arbor rowers dominated the first of three public information sessions hosted by the City of Ann Arbor. As http://www.huronriverpaddlers.blogspot.com/ followers know, these meetings are designed so the public can comment on the future management of Argo Pond, Argo Dam, and the Huron River as it flows through downtown Ann Arbor.

Wednesday night's session, however, was not a session where public comments could be shared freely.

The meeting facilitators--members of the Huron River and Impoundment Management Plan (HRIMP) Committee--attempted to manage breakout sessions devoted to three management options: total dam removal, a hybrid dam replacement with downstream whitewater, and repair of the existing dam infrastructure. Session attendees were asked "what do you like," "what are your concerns," and "what would you do differently." About 50 people, a mixture of high school students, parents, coaches, and Ann Arbor residents, attended each session.

But only the members of the rowing community could be heard.

"Can't you walk somewhere else?" was the response of one student rower reacting to resident's concern that bullhorns and motorized activity associated with rowing are a disturbance during his strolls along the impoundment. Rowing enthusiasts instigated a discussion about the possibility of toxins, like Mercury, that may reside in the ever-increasing sediment build-up behind the dam, suggesting that dam removal would force the community to face a potential toxic clean-up. One rowing parent could not understand the need for restoring the river's natural function--to move water and carry sediment, something that dams prevent. A rowing coach argued that removing the dam would result in less public access to the Argo stretch of the river.

While the supporters of rowing made statements that devalued other forms of recreation, suggested that toxins left alone will never be a problem, and argued that an estimated 27 acres of new park lands would result in fewer opportunities for public access, many non-rowing voices went unheard.

The sad reality facing wading anglers, bicyclists, birdwatchers, walkers, joggers, and swift water paddlers is that there is no data to support that restoring riparian corridors along the Argo stretch of the river would result in greater use by these groups. In fact, the only data the City has used to evaluate recreation on the river resulted from the following: an online "angler survey" (less than 300 respondents), City canoe livery figures, and information directly from the rowing community.

Paddlers, I urge you to attend the remaining two public meetings and to share what you like about the proposed plans, what your concerns may be, and if you think the City needs to take a different approach. The HRIMP Committee members are eager to hear your voice.

Right now, all the Committee members are hearing is "row, baby, row."


From the Watershed Council

You have an opportunity to help the Huron River

You have an opportunity to help shape the management and direction of the Huron River as it flows through Ann Arbor. And we need your help. We have been working with the City of Ann Arbor to develop strategies for managing and protecting the river in Ann Arbor with a focus on the dams and their upstream impoundments. These impoundments are struggling with a build-up of sediment, nuisance weed growth, algae blooms, poor ecologic quality, and multiple recreational uses. The city has not had dedicated funds or a strategy to manage these uses and problems.

Following a 1995 DNR Huron River Assessment, the Huron River Watershed Council believes that Argo dam doesn’t make sense any more. The restoration of the river should be a priority and removing this dam is the most sensible option. Argo dam's infrastructure is aging and requiring large investments (exceeding $0.5 million dollars). The build-up of sediment and weed growth is a problem for recreational users and the rowers now weed whack (mulch) the plants in order to cut a path to row. Rather than managing all of the impoundments for all uses, active recreation and public funds should be focused on fewer impoundments where the City can dredge, manage weeds, and serve the public.

The city is hosting 3 public meetings over the next 2 weeks. The environmental commission will hear and vote on the recommendations in March and April and then they will go to the City Council for approval.

Here are the public meetings and times and the primer. If you can make it to a session and express your thoughts, great and thank you. I am also working with other interest groups to get more voices at these meetings.

Public Meetings:
1/28 7-10pm
1/31 9-12 noon
2/5 7-10 pm

The Primer is posted on the HRIMP website under background documents

Please feel free to share

Public Meetings Link

If you have further questions, please contact me at lrubin@hrwc.org.

Thank you,


Public Meeting Dates, Times, & Location

Forsythe Middle School
1655 Newport Road
Ann Arbor, MI

Google Map

January 28th (7-10pm)
January 31st (9-12 noon)
February 5th (7-10pm)


Picture This! Ann Arbor Whitewater

In November 2008, the City of Ann Arbor received a report from the industry-leading designer and installer of whitewater features--Recreation, Engineering, & Planning (REP). To learn more about REP, you can visit their website: http://www.wwparks.com/.

The report from REP to the City is now available for download. Everyone is encouraged to review this document in advance of the planning sessions on January 28, January 31, and February 5.


City Plan for Managing the Huron River


The Huron River and Impoundment Management Plan Committee has developed a background document for public review prior to the Public Meetings.

Please download and review this document TODAY!


Kayakers Use the Huron Year-Round

Photo: Jim Malinowski
January 1, 2009 - A dozen members of the Raw Strength & Courage Kayakers club conducted the 33rd Annual New Year's Day Paddle on the Huron River.

Full coverage of the event can be found here: New Year's Day Paddle.

River levels remain high following an after-Christmas warming period, providing both challenging and enjoyable conditions between Zeeb Road and the Delhi Metropark.

Note: kayakers and canoeists should be well-dressed for the elements one encounters when embarking on a winter paddle. Dry suits, dry tops, non-cotton insulating layers, and spare clothing are only a FEW of the must-have items for kayaking the Huron River in winter conditions.