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Tag Archive | "wetlands"

Rob Vander Zee’s ArtPrize


Rob VanderZee’s entry into ArtPrize.

Rob VanderZee’s entry into ArtPrize.

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Rob Vander Zee, talented young man, was seeking an art project while in high school and has now displayed in Artprize 2013. When I was developing a wetland learning station at the Howard Christensen Nature Center in the 1980’s, it was fortunate that Rob connected with us. I explained a wetlands vision and gave him an image. From there he created the artwork mural that still draws youth and visitors to think about wetlands. Please visit HCNC and become a member.

I gave Rob a picture of a beaver pond and he painted a wonderful realistic rendition. The work entices viewers to think about the world we live in. Rob is at native of Cedar Springs and his work helps people think about the future.

Wetlands are major contributors to Michigan’s recreation economy.  They are economically valuable assets that filter toxics from water, reduce flood damage, are major food producers, and provide desirable sites for human habitation. Wetlands modify weather conditions and determine the depth of ground water tables that recharge city and private wells.  Water moves from wetlands to ground water and vice-versa.  How we handle sewage, fertilizers, pesticides, and toxic substance disposal are important community health issues that are constantly in debate. Safe drinking water is taken for granted and there are those that want to reduce community efforts to protect water quality by reducing government programs protecting our health and the environment.

In the 1970’s we passed the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species. These programs have helped restore conditions that improve our quality of life. Those protections are being challenged to reduce taxes. People forget the pollution costs were more expensive and damaging to health than the preventive tax programs. Saving tax dollars spurs efforts to reduce government programs but at what cost? They may not be perfect but the programs protect our economy, health and quality of life. Rob’s art work hopes to engage people to think about the future and I hope my articles do the same.

When we bought Ody Brook property in 1979, the home plumbing from the toilet went into a 55-gallon drum that had rusted away and other water was piped directly to the Little Cedar Creek. We installed a proper septic system and drain field. It was not until 1976 that government regulations changed construction codes to meet the Clean Water Act and provide environmental protection. We recently added five acres to Ody Brook that has an existing home. That home’s plumbing ran to the Little Cedar Creek without a septic drain field. The home construction predated the 1970’s Clean Water Act tax legislation. We recently installed a proper septic system to protect the stream, wetlands, and water quality for Cedar Springs human and wildlife neighbors.

How many homes still have systems that pollute water quality, fishing, health, and damage our community’s economy and quality of life? The current budget battle in Washington is wrestling with what is needed to maintain a high quality of life in Cedar Springs. That brings us back to Rob Vander Zee’s art.

Rob painted a mural for ArtPrize called Michigan Forest: The Future of Genetic Manipulation on an Eco System. He comments his artwork is open for interpretation. He wants people to think about society actions. His work displays possibilities for the future. He wants viewers to contemplate nature niches and our role as participants in the ecosystem. I hope many of you viewed his work. If not, view and read his comments about the painting at: www.artprize.org/rob-vander-zee.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Get paid for restoring wetlands


Did you know that restoring wetlands on your property can put cash in your pocket?

The Rogue River Watershed Council and Trout Unlimited, Inc., in partnership with Timberland RC&D, the Kent Conservation District, the Izaak Walton League, and the Department of Environmental Quality, is hosting a free wetland workshop for landowners at the Rockford Sportsman’s Club on Monday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m.  The workshop will highlight programs that assist private landowners to restore historic wetlands on their properties. Landowners that meet federal requirements may be eligible for wetland restoration payments that pay between $2,000-$5,000 per acre in Kent, Newaygo, and Ottawa Counties.

At the workshop you will hear from leading wetland experts including representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.


Wetlands provide ecological, economic and social benefits. They provide habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of plants. Wetlands are also important landscape features because they hold and slowly release floodwater and snow melt and recharge groundwater.  This combined action of slowing and storing water reduces flooding downstream and shoreline erosion. Flooding and high flows in local rivers are becoming worse with increased development, which adds impervious surfaces, such as driveways and roads, which do not absorb rainfall.

Wetlands also act as filters to cleanse water of impurities, such as sediment and nutrients.  Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus contribute a large amount of pollution to Michigan’s lakes river and streams. Excess nutrients contribute to increased algae growth, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the water. Wetlands can filter out as much as 91 percent of the phosphorus and 86 percent of the nitrogen.  Sediment (soil particles) is the leading non-point source pollutant in Michigan’s lakes, rivers and streams. Sediments that are suspended in running water can also be removed by wetlands. As the running water enters a wetland, the water slows and the sediments settle out. Some wetlands can retain as much as 94 percent of this sediment.
If you have an interest in restoring wetland habitat on your property, and would like to attend this workshop, please RSVP by March 21 to Nichol De Mol at ndemol@tu.org or 231-557-6362.

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