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Friends Receives Grant to Conduct Public
Education Programs

Friends of the Shiawassee River is working with partner organizations to provide information, networking opportunities, and project development around the local impacts of climate change

Posted by Perry-Laingsburg Pulse at 9:48pm 12/19/19

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Shiawassee river scene outside Friends' office in Corunna ahead of deconstruction of the city's historic dam in 2019. Work in the area continues./Pulse photo

One of the reasons the Friends’ organization was formed was to share their appreciation and knowledge of the Shiawassee River with others. With a new grant, the Friends of the Shiawassee River will take a step forward in 2020 with a major public education program about climate change and its impact on our watershed. The outreach effort will focus on actions that can be taken that enhance the health of the Shiawassee River no matter the extent of impacts caused by extreme weather events.

The Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) Program, sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has awarded the Friends funding to help them build a knowledge base and share practical information with those impacted by changing water levels resulting from increased storm events and droughts. The Friends organization was one of only 12 grant recipients (for a complete list of grantees and more details on the grants program, click here).

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“We are here to serve the residents of the watershed, and this grant will help us all be better stewards of the river and its natural resources,” said Friends Executive Director Lorraine Austin. “We’re especially interested in taking a local look at what is happening in our own backyards.”

The Friends of the Shiawassee River will hold three education forums on the impacts of extreme weather events throughout the diverse Shiawassee River Watershed to inform and engage three different groups:

1) local governments and residential landowners along the River;
2) farmers. agricultural landowners, and conservation organizations;
3) recreational users of the River, including anglers, hunters, paddlers and wildlife advocates.

With the help of scientists, the Friends will provide the best information available about increased precipitation, the increased likelihood of storm events, rising summer and winter temperatures, droughts, and other weather changes. Workshop participants will work together to design and carry out a project to address a local problem or opportunity.

The GLISA team working on the project have local roots. “Having grown up in Corunna and having watched my uncle fish along the Shiawassee River all of his life, I am excited to work with the Friends of the Shiawassee River and local residents to protect these resources that have played, and continue to play, such an important role in the lives of the local communities,” said Dr. Frank Marsik of the University of Michigan and GLISA liaison to the Friends.

The GLISA team at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan will analyze climate data and provide an analysis of climate change in the Shiawassee River watershed that will be presented at all three workshops. At each workshop, organizations with relevant expertise will present potential solutions that can be undertaken by watershed residents, landowners, local governments, community nonprofits, and recreational organizations.

 “People in the Great Lakes region understand that climate change is about more than increases in temperature and rainfall across the region. As a result of these changes in our climate, our wetlands and other sensitive ecosystems are seeing changes, as well,” said Marsik. “Increases in rainfall can lead to increases in soil erosion and run-off into rivers and streams. Temperature changes are leading to shifts in vegetation and habitat for wildlife.”

Other partners in the project include the Michigan Association of Planning, the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, the Shiawassee Conservation District, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Fish & Wildlife.

For more information about the Friends, visit their website at www.ShiawasseeRiver.org or email info@shiawasseeriver.org. The Friends also posts regular updates on their Facebook page and Twitter feed (FOSR_Tweets).

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