“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We want to support the efforts of the Gratiot County Conservation District and of the various city governments and area agencies that are working to improve river quality,” said Chair Gary Rayburn.
To that end HPR advocated for a study of water quality conducted by the City of Alma and by Alma College this past summer, then arranged a public meeting to discuss the results. The reports showed unsafe levels of e-coli bacteria in the Mill Pond, high enough for the Mid Michigan District Health Department to post warning signs at the boat launch in Conservation Park and the canoe launch at Luneack Landing. There are also issues with high ammonia and nitrate levels, large algae blooms and excess vegetation and sedimentation.
The group is putting together a community workshop to inform people about the challenges the river faces, to offer some possibilities for short and long-term action, and to find out what residents see as the most important issues to address first.
“Currently we’re a board of seven people who care, but we can’t decide what priorities to advocate for and support in isolation. No one “owns” the river, but we all have a stake in it and we need input from everyone,” Rayburn said. The workshop is tentatively scheduled for late spring, and the event will be widely publicized to encourage maximum attendance.
Meanwhile people are encouraged to visit the HPR website www.healthypineriver.org, where they can join the group for a $5 annual fee and sign up for the email list to receive updates, including minutes of all the meetings. The group meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., usually at the Alma Public Library. All are welcome to attend. Anyone with questions can contact Gary Rayburn, 989-330-3686.