Author: Lisa Parsons, Community Outreach Interpreter
How does one celebrate the majestic, breathtaking 130-mile long Huron River extending from the Huron Swamp in Springfield Township near Indian Springs Metropark in White Lake all the way down to Lake Erie, near Lake Erie Metropark in Wayne County? Or the 83-mile long Clinton River that reaches from a spring-fed start in Oakland County, meanders through 3 additional counties, and ends in Lake St. Clair near the Lake St. Clair Metropark? You create a festival of course!
Over forty years ago the Huron River Day celebration in Ann Arbor, Michigan was created to encourage partnerships among government, private and non-profit organizations to educate people about the importance of water quality and preservation of the Huron River. It has since expanded to include activities and events dedicated to educating the public on the recreational and educational benefits of the river.
The Huron River Day celebration is sponsored by the DTE Energy Foundation. Additional support is provided by Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation, the City of Ann Arbor, and The Huron River Watershed Council. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks provides free nature programming at Gallup Park on the day of the event. Through these efforts and the efforts of other organization partnerships, Huron River Day becomes a day to reflect on the importance of the river and honor the unique water source that it is: a place that provides drinking water; a place that provides habitat for wildlife; a place that provides opportunities for fishing, canoeing, kayaking; and a place that provides a respite for the soul.
Another event, the Clinton River Water Festival, takes place on the Oakland University campus each May. Presenters from a variety of organizations, including interpreters from the Metroparks, provide hands-on learning opportunities for fifth graders from throughout Oakland County to learn about the importance of clean water and everyone’s roles in keeping it clean. 2022 was the 16th year of the Clinton River Water Festival. Students explore the Clinton River through many lenses: ecological, hydrological, and geographical, so that they leave with not only a better sense of the river but also the many ways that they can take action to keep the river clean for everyone. They also become exposed to and aware of the many jobs that focus on the health of the river, the wildlife, and our waterways with the potential to be lifelong stewards of the river.
As you are out enjoying the outdoors this summer, take a moment to celebrate your watershed. Participate in a trash pickup, take a guided paddle trip, or just pause to appreciate the freshwater worlds that surround us here in southeast Michigan.
Learn more about the many watershed celebrations in our area below:
Rouge River Watershed Festival (2022 dates have not yet been announced)
Detroit River Watershed Festival (2022 dates have not yet been announced)