When it comes to water resources, can one person make a difference?
Photo: Mary Bohling | Michigan Sea Grant
Whether working alone or working with others, taking action can help your local watershed.
Reprinted with permission from Michigan State University Extension

"Average citizens" often wonder if it is possible to make a real change in our communities. What can just one person do that will really change things for the better? The answer is, there are many ways individuals can get involved in making changes to improve local water quality.

As someone who has been active with the Great Lakes Areas of Concern Program and their associated Public Advisory Councils, I have seen first-hand how individuals have brought positive changes to their local water bodies.

The Great Lakes Areas of Concern Program is a federal-state-local partnership that brings together state and federal scientists with community members to improve "Areas of Concern." Areas of Concern are water bodies affected by environmental impacts from legacy pollution caused by human activities. Those impacts mean that communities often can't eat the fish they catch, swim at their beaches, or drink the water from their local water body.

Public Advisory Councils are composed of everyday citizens and are an integral part of the AOC program because they are the way that individuals can have a say in what is needed to restore their local water body. Residents help government partners learn about their community, create strategies for success, and provide a vision for their waters. Michigan started with 14 Areas of Concern sites and has completely restored two-thanks to the dedication of local Public Advisory Councils. Twelve more sites are in various stages of restoration.

Council members are "average citizens" who decided to learn about the problems of the local water bodies and then work with federal and state scientists to come up with strategies to correct those problems. They also contribute to the improvement of their water bodies through writing and contacting their legislators to educate them about problems and advocate for solutions, volunteer for various clean-up efforts, manage PAC projects, show leadership as water stewards and more.

Are you an "average citizen' who is concerned about your local waters? Get involved. Here are just a few ways:
  • Make simple changes at home:
    • Create a rain garden
    • Use a rain barrel
    • Don't toss waste (such as plastics, yard waste, or paint) into storm drains
  • Learn about impacts affecting your local watershed
  • Join a "friends of the watershed" group or public advisory council
  • Write and contact your legislators
  • Volunteer with adopt-a-beach or adopt-a-stream
  • Send before and after photos of cleanup projects to your local media
  • Run for local or state elected offices
Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan's coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and   Michigan State University and its   MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the  NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

Note: The US and Canada implement separate Remedial Action Plans and have separate Public Advisory Councils for the Detroit River Area of Concern. To get involved with the Canadian PAC, please contact the  DRCC.
State of the Strait 2017: Urban Bird Summit
Pictured: Lower Detroit River at Riverdance Park in LaSalle. Waterfowl such as Common Mergansers, Buffleheads and Canvasbacks can be spotted rafting along the river in mid-winter. 
On November 9 2017, the Detroit Zoo hosted participants from Canada and the United States at the Urban Bird Summit. This event was a collaboration between State of the Strait and the Metro Detroit Nature Network.

The State of the Strait is a binational collaboration that meets every two years to bring together governments, managers, researchers, students, organizations and citizens to work together to achieve a better future for the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. The conference this year discussed threats to bird species and ways to protect them within the southeastern Michigan and southwestern Ontario region.

The Detroit River is at the intersection of the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, which brings over 350 species of birds through on migration! The Lower Detroit River (from the north end of Fighting Island to the mouth at Lake Erie) is an important area for congregating birds and waterfowl. It is recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area or IBA by Bird Studies Canada. The river is also home to a number of resident raptors, including Bald Eagles and Osprey, and on the migration pathway for many species of raptors in the fall. The significance of the Detroit River also led the City of Detroit on May 22 2017 to become the 29th city in the US to sign an Urban Bird Treaty with US Fish and Wildlife Service. Read more here.
Minister's Annual Report on Drinking Water 2017
Pictured: Lower Detroit River. The Detroit River is drinking water to 5 million Canadians and Americans.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released the Minister's Annual Report on Drinking Water 2017. This report is available online at ontario.ca/drinkingwater.

It showcases how Ontario is taking action to protect drinking water and water resources.
Supporting data on   Drinking Water Quality and Enforcement is available on the Open Data Catalogue.

City of Windsor Draft Environmental Master Plan
The draft of a revised Windsor Environmental Master Plan is available for public review and comment until January 2018. Click here for more information and to review the plan.
Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Video
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRWIR) has released a new video highlighting conservation efforts and successes. Click here to see the video and great footage of the Detroit River.
Great Lakes Lakewide Action and Management Plans 2017 Annual Reports Available Online
The 2017 Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) Annual Reports for lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario have just been published.
The 2017 LAMP annual reports highlight accomplishments and progress in achieving LAMP goals during the past year, and identify LAMP-related activities including outreach, monitoring, protection and restoration actions.  Lakewide Action and Management Plans are developed and implemented for each Great Lake.  Each Lake Partnership facilitates information sharing, sets priorities, and assists in coordinating binational environmental protection and restoration activities as prescribed in the Lakewide Management Annex of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
For more information, visit Binational.net.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!   
The Detroit River in the news. Here are some links to articles that may pique your interest. Click the link  to read on.  
Upcoming Events  
Save the date for these great local events! Contact the organizer for more information. 
Fall Migration Field Courses
December 2 2017, 8:30am, Point Pelee, The Tip Parking Lot 
Observe the incredible variety of birds that migrate through Southwestern Ontario each fall. Event is on Saturday December 2nd. Lead by Paul Pratt. Morning field trip (8:30 am - noon) to Point Pelee, meet at the Tip parking lot. Cost is $16/adult, $14.50/senior.
Launch of Fisheries Management Zone 16 (Southwestern ON) Planning Process
December 5 2017, Best Western Plus Walkerton Hotel & Conference Centre, 10 East Ridge Road Walkerton, ON, 7pm - 9pm.  
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is hosting public listening sessions to gain input on the future planning of fisheries management zone 16. Click the link to see the dates/locations for 4 different, upcoming sessions: https://www.ontario.ca/page/fisheries-management-zone-16-fmz-16.  
Eve of St. Nicholas
Sunday December 10th 2017, 12pm to 4pm. John R. Park Homestead Essex County Rd 50 & Iler Rd, Harrow, ON. 
See the Homestead in its holiday splendour. The pioneer house and farm are decorated with materials gathered from the farm and forest. Warm up with mulled cider and roasted chestnuts. Meet St. Nicholas' historic counterparts- Ruprecht and Belsnickel. Check the 'list' to see if you have been naughty or nice this year. Make a gingerbread cookie and traditional ornament to take home. Cost is $6/adult, $4/child, $20 family maximum (3 adults, 2 children). 
Candlelight Christmas
Tuesday December 12th 2017, 7pm to 8:30pm. John R. Park Homestead Essex County Rd 50 & Iler Rd, Harrow, ON. 
See the 1842 house decorated with natural materials from forest and farm, craft a traditional ornament, bake on the hearth, and ring the sleigh bells. Costumed guides will take visitors through the house and farm after sundown. Various stops along the way offer guests a seasonal participation experience straight from the days of John and Amelia Park. Cost is $15/person. Pre-registration required: www.candlelightchristmas2017.eventbrite.ca 
DRCC Public Advisory Council and Education and Public Involvement Work Group Meeting
Wednesday December 13th 2017, 4:30pm to 6:30pm. Duff-Baby Interpretation Centre - 221 Mill St. W. in Sandwich Town, Windsor. 
Both the Public Advisory Council and the Education and Public Involvement Work Group will be meeting to discuss updates. Everyone welcome but please RSVP. For more information please contact postmaster@detroitriver.ca.  
Essex County Nature Meeting
Wednesday December 13th 2017, 7:30pm to 9:30pm. Ojibway Nature Centre, 5200 Matchette Road, Windsor, ON. 
Come and share photos and stories related to your nature experiences and sightings. This
is a relaxed evening of club member participation and pre-holiday mirth. Please join us
for some light refreshments and social time. *If you would like to share photos, please
bring them on a USB drive. 
Belle Isle Park Advisory Council
Thursday December 21st 2017, 9am to 11am. Belle Isle Nature Zoo, Flynn Pavilion - Near Intersection of Picnic Way & Loiter Way, Belle Isle, Detroit, MI, 48207
Please see website link for past agendas, meeting minutes, and additional information here.  

The DRCC initiative is a partnership between government, industry, academics, as well as environmental and community organizations that work together to improve the Detroit River ecosystem through a Remedial Action Plan. Our main goal is to remove the River from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.