Shiatown Dam Update

ShiatownDamAerialWeb.jpgAfter decades of danger, the Shiatown dam is moving toward removal in 2016.  The Friends of the Shiawassee River have been working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and several stakeholders to restore the Shiawassee River at the site of the former dam, improve the habitat for fish and other wildlife, and enhance recreational opportunities at Shiatown Park.  

Watch ABC 12 coverage on removal and restoration.

The Friends of the Shiawassee River recently held an informational meeting to share the current project status and gather public input.  Stakeholders from state and local government, property owners, and paddlers provided input.  After approvals, removal of dam remnants is planned to begin in July, with complete restoration likely by September.  In addition, Shiawassee County is updating their plans for Shiatown Park.  After the river restoration is complete, improvements to the Park will then be possible.

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Shiatown Dam History: 1840-2016

The Shiatown Dam has been a community landmark in Shiawassee County for more than a century. Over the years, the structure and its adjacent millpond have served a variety of functions, from power generation to recreation to wildlife habitat. While these uses have evolved over time, the site has remained a well-known feature in Shiawassee County. As with any building or structure, time took its toll on the Shiatown Dam. The structure has not produced power or been regularly maintained for over 50 years. In 2010, the dam was ordered to be repaired or removed, and work began in the region to resolve the challenges this presented, to develop plans, and identify funding to bring this community vision to fruition.  

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Coalition Seeks National Water Trail Designation for Shiawassee River

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A water trail for the length of the Shiawassee? We're exploring the possibility!

On Tuesday, March 8th, over a dozen people gathered at Baker College of Owosso to meet with Barbara Nelson-Jameson (a trails planner with the National Park Service) to discuss forming a coalition for the purpose of seeking National Water Trail designation for the Shiawassee River from its headwaters in Holly to the Shiawassee Flats within the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw Township. 

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Make a Polar Plunge Pledge and Double Your Impact

Board Member Gary Burk will be joining a hearty group of community outdoor enthusiast taking the Polar Plunge on Saturday, February 27th, at 2:00 pm at Collamer Park on Hopkins Lake. In past years, Gary has not exactly dressed appropriately for such a chilling dip, but he sure has a singular flare for fun and the fantastic; including a crash test dummy and a hula girl. 

Gary Burk takes the plunge to support Owosso Parks and the Friends.....again! Gary will match your pledge of park support with a donation to the Friends. 

Contact Gary Burk atburkgm@gmail.com to Pledge!

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Oil Spill Update

(12/03/15) The US Environmental Protection Agency has been working diligently to clean up the Thanksgiving Day oil spill in the Shiawassee watershed (see previous post below). The size of the "Wade Road Oil Spill" is now estimated to be between 500-1000 gallons (up from an initial estimate of 300 gallons of oil).  The source of the spill has been identified and the responsible party has assumed all costs for the emergency response and cleanup. As of Thursday, December 3rd, these costs are more than $80,000.  The the US Department of Environmental Protection is overseeing the cleanup, which will continue until they determine it to be complete.

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Friends Celebrate River Champions and Set Ambitious Agenda for 2016

If you wanted to revel in all the good things happening on the Shiawassee River, the place to be was the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso this past Tuesday night. The Friends welcomed new staff and board member, celebrated exceptional volunteers and their 20 year history of Caring, Sharing and Enjoying the Shiawassee River.

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The Friends welcomed Lance Omer to the board and introduced Lauri Elbing, our new executive director, and Sarah Baker, our new Stream Team Coordinator, to the membership.  We also welcomed Tiffany Cooper, a digital media design intern from Baker College.  The Friends are building the necessary capacity to strengthen and expand the reach of the programs and the mission that has guided us for these past 20 years.  

Two board members stepped down, but pledged to stay involved with the Friends: Larry Johnson of Owosso and Nancy Krause of Chesaning. For each of us it is a labor of love, and we are grateful for their dedication and service to the Friends and to our watershed.

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SHIAWASSEE RIVER SAFE FROM THANKSGIVING DAY OIL SPILL

The Friends Commend Quick Action by Local Hunter to Report Oil Spill in Shiawassee County Drain and Prompt Response by Local, State and Federal Government to Contain and Cleanup the Spill
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2015 was a Year of Changes, Progress, and Great Fun

(12/08/15) Are you a member of the Friends in good standing? If so, you should have received your copy of the latest edition of The River View in the mail last week.  If you're a member and didn't receive yours, please get in touch with us so we can correct the oversight.

We have much to celebrate as we reflect back on the many accomplishments of 2015 and the tremendous opportunities ahead of us in 2016. The Fall 2015 edition of The River View shares the good news and extends our hearty and heart felt thanks to all of our Friends, donors, sponsors and partners. We couldn't do any of this without each one of you.

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In 2021, when the Friends celebrate our 25th Anniversary, 2015 may be the year that stands out. We built foundations this past year: more Stream Teams in more places, more relationships with old and new Friends, and the realization of several goals from our strategic plan that have made us financially stronger, more organized, and better able to work with communities throughout the watershed. This has us all looking forward to great things in 2016.

The Friends continue to host impactful events, like our 18th River Cleanup this year and annual Wine-Tasting celebration. We have gotten better at raising funds, and held our first very successful kayak raffle. And we received grants to restore the river at old dam sites, to support Stream Team volunteers, and do other good work. But this year, we also worked on building what we need to be successful in the long run: an engaged board, committed donors, and a clear plan.

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NCG CINEMA JUMPSTARTS FRIENDS' NEW ADOPT-A-RIVER PROGRAM

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September 22, 2015, Owosso, MI – On a sunny day – the last day of summer - the Friends of the Shiawassee River (Friends) gathered along our river in downtown Owosso to announce a new initiative that will help ramp up and sustain the Friends’ efforts to clean and monitor stretches of our waterway as well as promote all the fun to be had out on our river. The Adopt-A-River program garners sponsorships from local businesses and organizations in the form of funding and volunteer opportunities.  Neighborhood Cinema Group Cinema (NCG), a chain of movie theaters founded and headquartered in Owosso, Michigan, made the first commitment to the Adopt-a-River program.

"I’m so glad Brad Kirkland approached me to be a part of the Adopt-A-River program.  I was born and raised here in Owosso, and grew up fishing and kayaking on this river, playing football down that way, going to the Curwood Festival," said Jeff Geiger, president of NCG Cinemas. "We are proud to be able to be a part of this program and help the Friends.  The hard work is done by all the people involved in this organization and we’re happy to help support that work."

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NEW CANOE/KAYAK LAUNCH IN BYRON

The Village of Byron's Downtown Development Authority has embraced the Shiawassee River as a recreational and economic asset.  With the help of the Friends of the Shiawassee River, and with funding from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN), a canoe/kayak launch has been built adjacent to downtown Byron.IMG_7076web.jpg

The Shiawassee River gains size as it flow through Byron, where the south branch joins the main stem just upstream from the Village. The stretch from Byron to the Walnut Hills Campground is one of the more wild and beautiful sections of the river. Recently volunteers cleared downed trees from this area of the river, further improving access and use of this natural resource.

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NEW LEADERSHIP FOR THE FRIENDS

2015.09.08.Lauri_with_Tom_on_her_first_day_of_work_at_the_Friends.JPGLauri Elbing has taken on the role of Executive Director of the Friends of the Shiawassee River. Lauri brings significant experience in nonprofits and environmental policy to her role as staff leader of the Friends. She served most recently as the Communications Director at the Flint River Watershed Council.  Previously, she worked for The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation in Michigan, and on the staff of Congressman John Dingell.  Lauri, of Flushing, has received training in volunteer water quality sampling and co-authored several publications on fisheries and water quality topics. In her free time, she is an avid kayaker, angler, and birder; she also enjoys a round of skeet when the opportunity presents itself.

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