River Raisin Watershed Council under new management
ADRIAN — At the fall meeting of the River Raisin Watershed Council (RRWC), new officers were elected and the executive committee was re-established. After nearly a year, the RRWC is on track to increase its membership to previous levels and to re-engage with the community.
Jim Mann, the new Chair of the RRWC, has been Sharon Township’s representative to the RRWC since it was established in 1974. He has property on the river and has spent a lifetime enjoying, and helping others to enjoy, the Raisin. Working with the Manchester Kiwanis Club, Jim has helped clear the river for the Manchester Canoe Race since 1967.
Jim sums up his new role as RRWC Chair this way: “The more we can get people out to experience being on the river, the more support we can get. The river is center to our whole region. We encourage members up and down its banks to bring to our attention any problems or concerns they may have.”
Another significant piece of business decided by the membership was to significantly lower its dues for municipal membership, from 18 cents to 10 cents per person. Along with more equitable population estimates, dues assessments will be lowered by more than half, in some instances. This is possible because the RRWC has lowered its overhead substantially, with the Lenawee County Drain Commissioner providing office space, phone and internet at no cost. The dues assessment information is available on the RRWC website at www.riverraisin.org. Dues notices will be sent by early December.
The executive committee is also reviewing changes to the RRWC bylaws to ensure they comply with the statute under which the RRWC was formed. One of the proposed changes would be to allow Lenawee, Monroe and Washtenaw counties to appoint a representative to the executive committee, which is currently made up of the four officers, but is supposed to have seven members. The executive committee plans to recommend amendments of the bylaws to the membership in early December, for action in January.
The RRWC is also soliciting input on small projects that it could undertake in 2013. Some of the ideas under consideration are listed on the RRWC website. So far, most support is for log jam removal, expanding the Adopt-a-Stream program and outreach to schools. The RRWC hopes the public will visit their website and leave comments.
The River Raisin is considered a priority watershed for many reasons. The watershed management plan, approved by the Department of Environmental Quality in 2009, has led to several grants being awarded, valued at over $2 million. Local units of government and non-profits are eligible to apply for grant funding to implement parts of the watershed plan. Educational and implementation activities are currently ongoing, geared at improving water quality by taking care of the lands that drain into the Raisin.
Day to day business is currently being conducted by one very part-time assistant, a few core volunteers, and the RRWC officers. All of them are very excited about the possibilities for rebuilding the RRWC into a strong entity that can coordinate activities throughout the watershed. The RRWC is seeking more volunteers to implement its mission.
RRWC officers are: Chair, Jim Mann, Sharon Township, Washtenaw County; Vice-Chair, Laurie Johncox, Cambridge Township, Lenawee County; Treasurer, Julius Suchy, Dundee Village, Monroe County; and Secretary, Hedi Kaufman, Frenchtown Township, Monroe County. George Service, of Clinton, serves as a member/delegate for Clinton Village.
Potential 2013 projects for the RRWC include: Adopt-a-Stream expansion; DNR Lake Hudson event, Sept. 7, 2013; Heritage Water Trails — water recreation focus; log jam removal; outreach for festivals/local events; outreach to schools; regional hubs for local action; and website upgrade.