Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Poster of regeneration of Lake Plain area


In making the poster for the stewardship network conference in January, I want to show regeneration projects we have done in the Lake Plain area, including the Rouge River Watershed. We have little left of the ecosystem that was here in settlement times, the area is mostly urban; paved over and tied up with fences, if you will. We have the bones, the geology has changed little.

Regenerating an ecosystem is heady work. Few protocals show the way. Strip miners have done projects to put back a layer of topsoil, but they put in golf courses and lanscape that needs heavy inputs. Our urban ecosystems have been torn up and paved over without regard to living systems that might have occupied the land. There is much nonnative grass, maintained with petrochemicals, and many paved roads, many roofs of buildings. Roofs and roads are impervious surfaces, little like the spongy forest floor that used to carpet our land. Much of the water that falls from the rains goes into the river, straight to the river picking up dirt and petrochemicals along the way. The natural hydrology cycle is disturbed here.

I keep thinking there is an authority who would know how we ought to proceed in these matters, could outline the path to regeneration. I have some idea of what I want to highlight in the poster, projects moving toward a healthier ecosystem on the lakeplain. Much of our area is urban. There are certainly people who know a lot and have experiences that would be useful and relevant to the process of rebuilding a watershed. But the work of regenerating a city ecosystem is not work that has been done much.

There are areas of the country that have progressed farther than we have in making progress toward a healthiy ecosystem. We have come far in learning what needs to be done. I wanted to put photos with captions as examples of our sucesses on the poster. I think the Rouge watershed has taken steps, baby steps, has a long way too go.

There are grow zones, over 24 acres in Wayne County alone. The County of Wayne and Oakland have many employees and many in local city government are aware of the importance of the areas that are left unmowed. Especially in Oakland county, the parks department has hired experts in the field of landscape architecture who are advocates for sustainable landscaping.

Progress has been made in part because the clean water act has mandated we clean the water in rivers all over the country. In the Rouge watershed, munipalities are struggling with ways to meet mandated standards. Some want huge, expensive waterworks and pipes that connect to huge water works. One of the problems the old core area has is combined sewers. During large rain events, the combined sanitary and storm sewers overflow. Currently much sewage water is sent to huge storage areas during large rain events, treated and sent to the river. The large storage areas are called CSO’s (combined sewer over flows). This is an expensive solution and not very elegant but it does treat sewage in the river.

I would put together a poster on river hydrology. The information SOCCWA has collected over the years on making rain gardens, the importance of healthy hydrology, is impressive. I am a SOCCWA volunteer, though would not do the project representing SOCCWA.

Rouge river restoration, many hands, many organizations

Photos of at the top: Rain gardens, green roofs, ponds, swales, wetland imitating technology.

Center: Elmwood cemetary, has original topology of lower Rouge. Streams allowed to run free, not buried. Photo.

Old technology/ new technology: Photos

Flood plains, Hines park, flooded.
Paved banks of Rouge

Rain gardens
Green roof, green walls
Green roads and driveways
pond/ swale: Photo of reconstituted pond in Ford Field, Dearborn
Wetland restoration- Crosswinds marsh, photo, bird list (Built on former dump property funded by Wayne County to replace wetlands in airport expansion) , Oxbow reopening, Dearborn


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