City joins international effort to protect Lake Huron water quality by implementing stormwater solutions, encouraging community action.
The City of Au Gres has taken the Lake Huron Forever Pledge, committing to the protection of the water quality of Lake Huron by improving the ways it manages stormwater runoff, invasive species and chemical hazards while also inspiring community members to action.
Au Gres City Council adopted the resolution at its first regular meeting of the year Jan 4, making them the first city to sign the pledge. Read a PDF version of the pledge here.
The Lake Huron Forever initiative was developed in 2019 by shoreline community foundation and conservation partners from the United States and Canada to advance water quality protection and sustainable communities on both sides of the lake. Facilitated locally by conservation nonprofit Huron Pines, the initiative supports community efforts to design and complete on-the-ground work that strengthens the health of residents and natural resources.
“Au Gres knows that a healthy Lake Huron means a healthy, strong and vibrant future for our community,” reads the pledge. “We are committed to understanding the unique connections our residents and visitors have to Au Gres and to incorporating their priorities and concerns into our decision making as we continue to lead natural resources protection efforts in our region. We pledge to protect Lake Huron forever.”
More than just a promise to do good for the lake, the pledge outlines the challenges facing the lakeshore community and achievable measures that can be taken to address them. For Au Gres, these are as follows:
- Prioritize the reduction of stormwater runoff from within the city limits by retrofitting existing infrastructure and incorporating nature-based solutions to filter out pollutants like road salt, nutrients and sediment before it enters waterways.
- Conduct treatment efforts of invasive plant species on city properties and support similar actions by residents and neighboring townships.
- Reduce the use of toxic or harmful chemicals throughout City departments including fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, cleaners and disinfectants and transition to environmentally friendly alternatives.
- Promote environmental education efforts targeted to the general public.
Additionally, the pledge lists a number of action steps Au Gres is planning to take, in partnership with Huron Pines, to move forward with the initiative. For example, the city is working with the Au Gres-Sims School and Huron Pines to install rain garden bioswales to reduce stormwater runoff. Municipal workers will be trained to maintain the rain gardens. The city will help promote the Lake Huron Forever initiative and will seek funding for future projects and programs, as well as incorporate environmental efforts into a future Master Plan.
“Au Gres, like many rural lakefront communities, is strongly committed to the health of our natural resources as well as the safety and security of our residents,” said Mayor Michael Hoadley. “This pledge will implement public awareness that we are engaged in preserving our waterways and inform members of the community about what they can do to help.”
“By signing this pledge, community leaders gain a sense of clarity and understanding of what they can do to help protect our natural resources,” said Abigail Ertel, Community Program Director for Huron Pines. “It also helps them be ready for infrastructure projects when opportunity comes along and to show potential funders that they are committed to this work.”
“Au Gres has a long history of taking proactive steps to protect its water quality and surrounding natural areas,” added Water Program Director Samantha Nellis. “They follow the philosophy that their community and economic health is dependent on these resources long term. They’ve already proven their commitment and we are excited to see them become the first Lake Huron Forever community.”
Huron Pines is leading the effort to inspire lakeshore communities to join the Lake Huron Forever initiative with funding from Bay Area Community Foundation, Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, Consumers Energy Foundation, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative. Support is also provided by Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship network, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Saginaw Bay Invasive Species Management Area.
Au Gres’ Lake Huron Forever Pledge
The City of Au Gres knows that a healthy Lake Huron means a healthy, strong and vibrant future for our community. As a result, we are committed to keeping the protection of Lake Huron at the forefront of our planning, decision making and resource allocation.
Our community well-being and economic prosperity are tied to Lake Huron. We understand that access to healthy natural resources like fresh air, clean water and public land improve the health and wellness of our entire community.
We must work together to protect the forests, wetlands and waterways to address threats of pollution and flooding caused by stormwater, proactively plan for the impacts of a changing climate, support native plant restoration and provide corridors for wildlife.
We are committed to understanding the unique connections our residents and visitors have to Au Gres and to incorporating their priorities and concerns into our decision making as we continue to lead natural resources protection efforts in our region. We pledge to protect Lake Huron forever.
Our Lake Huron Forever Pledge
- We hereby pledge to create, implement and update a Lake Huron Forever Community Road Map.
- We promise to serve as an example of how to proactively protect Lake Huron by sharing our work with other Lake Huron communities.
- We will allocate resources (time, money, people) to understanding emerging needs and opportunities in order to protect Lake Huron forever.
- We will commit to and encourage all community organizations and residents to take their own actions to protect Lake Huron, forever.
- We will give back to Lake Huron by examining management practices across municipal departments to identify ways to improve efforts to protect land and water resources.
- We will share our pledge with neighboring community leaders, as well as state, provincial and federal representatives to generate more conversation and positive action for Lake Huron and Lake Huron communities.
Our Lake Huron Forever Community Road Map
The City of Au Gres has identified several specific issues that are direct threats to the health of the Au Gres River and Lake Huron. With the support of the Lake Huron Forever network of partners, the City will work to address these issues with the following goals and action steps.
Issues and Goals
- Stormwater: In order to improve and protect water quality the City has prioritized reducing and improving the quality of stormwater runoff from within the city limits. The City aims to retrofit existing infrastructure to add nature-based solutions that reduce the strain on the existing storm sewer system and filter out common pollutants such as road salt, nutrients and sediment. The City also aims to incorporate nature-based solutions, when feasible, into future planning and construction projects.
- Invasive Species: Invasive plant species are gaining a foothold within and along local waterways that pose a threat to the integrity of those ecosystems and the local economy through reduced property values and damage to local tourism opportunities. Through actions on city properties and by supporting planning and treatment efforts by residents and neighboring townships, the City aims to prioritize this issue in the coming years.
- Chemical Hazards: Chemicals used in the maintenance of city properties can make their way into local waterways. The City aims to reduce the use of toxic or otherwise harmful chemicals throughout City departments including fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, cleaners and disinfectants. By transitioning to greener alternatives and training City staff on the proper use, application and disposal of necessary chemicals, the City aims to lead by example for others in the community.
- Public Education and Engagement: Increasing environmental education efforts targeted at the general public. Sharing information and stories with the Au Gres community is an essential aspect of this work.
- The City of Au Gres, in partnership with Huron Pines and the Au Gres-Sims School District, will install rain gardens/bioswales along East Michigan Avenue in order to capture and treat stormwater before it enters the Au Gres River.
- The City will support outreach efforts to local residents to inform them of the benefits of the bioswales including posting informative signage along Michigan Avenue, highlighting the project on the City’s social media pages and having city representatives at in-person events.
- The City and partners will develop and finalize maintenance plans for installed green infrastructure (e.g. rain gardens and bioswales). All relevant staff will receive an overview and training on these plans in order to maintain the aesthetics and functionality of the green infrastructure in the long term.
- The City will work with Huron Pines to finalize and tailor a messaging and communications guidance toolkit specific to Au Gres. The toolkit will include press release templates, social media posts, Lake Huron Forever messaging and logos and guidance for incorporating Lake Huron Forever messaging into public events. Appointed and elected officials will participate in a workshop for toolkit overview and understanding led by Huron Pines.
- With assistance from Lake Huron Forever partners, the City will install visual representation(s) highlighting the pledge to become a Lake Huron Forever community. This could include a sign as you enter the City, storm drain stamps and/or business window decals.
- The City will consider and discuss opportunities to raise or allocate funding for Lake Huron Forever programming and projects including considering these goals for grant fund applications and as line items during budgeting for the Tax Increment Financing Authority (TIFA), Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and/or other appropriate entities or programs.
- The elected and appointed city leaders will explore opportunities to incorporate the Lake Huron Forever Pledge and nature-based solutions into future development opportunities and City plans (i.e. Master Plan or Parks and Recreation Plan).
- The Au Gres City Council will review the Lake Huron Forever Road Map on a quarterly basis. The Road Map will be revised and added to on an annual basis.