HPR 2016 Aug 11

Healthy Pine River minutes  11 August 2016
Alma Public Library, small conference room

Call to Order 7 p.m. (Gary Rayburn)

Approval of July minutes (with one correction) (Marcus Cheatham/Bernie Bessert)

Treasurer’s Report by Chuck Sandro  $ 2,645.68 as of July 31.  $ 1,000.00 will be given toward the sediment survey.  The full $ 10,000.00 was gathered:  2,500 Community Foundation Grant; 1,500 City of St. Louis; 2,000 City of Alma; 1,000 Healthy Pine River; 3,000 Gratiot County.  The estimate cost is between 5,000-10,000 (Jane Keon/Marcus Cheatham to accept Treasurer’s report)

Old Business
*Bathymetry study of Pine River began Tuesday.  10 sites are surveyed.  Long poles are pushed thru the sediment to the hard pan of the river bed all the way across the riverbed in ten areas, revealing depth of sediment and displacement of water.  This occurs in the impoundment area (from the dam to just beyond the Honeyoye Creek.  The original river channel will be determined.  The amount of sediment will also be determined and this will be used to estimate the cost of removing/dealing with it.  After this stage state monies become more available to assist in the next phases.  Attendance at meetings counts as an in kind contribution toward this investment.  Contamination study is next.  
*River Camera is up and will be moved closer to the river. It runs 24/7 with live feed and can be found on our website (healthypineriver.org).  
*Watershed Plan.  Julie and Jane have worked many, many hours on this.  THANK YOU!!  A person from DEQ called and offered (possible) money to hire a person who knows how to carry this plan through to approval.  Names of such a creature were also shared.  Additionally, Jane made a long checklist of what information is where in the Plan and sent it in.  The approval of this watershed management plan precedes state or federal monies.  Again, THANK YOU JANE and JULIE!!
Marcus reported a conversation with Emily Finnell and Jon Allan (Director of the Office of the Great Lakes)  Mr. Allan is suggesting a three part plan.  
  1. Solve the data problem:  Encourage that the data from Alma College and the sediment survey study be accepted by DEQ
  2. Get the larger group together again to discuss Enforcement of laws and Policy Change (after the plan is approved)
  3. Pair HPR with a similar group to mentor us through this plan.  

Jon Allan heard us in June and is advocating for us and our community!!  
He also helped us get a full time MAEAP technician for our county!!!! (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) We have been working with the state director of Farm Bureau to voice our concerns.  Win Win!!
*House Bill 5613  was discussed by Marcus.  This bill has passed the house.  It basically says that Michigan environmental laws can’t be stricter than federal laws.  It seems to be a fiscal versus environmental issue.  Had a similar bill passed in 2011 the cleanup in St. Louis would have suffered.  That bill was defeated in Senate.  We need to work with Rick Jones and Senator Arlan Meekhof to defeat this bill again.  
Sue Joyce and Dawn Brady Wimmer will organize an appointment and time to organize talking points and then go visit Jones, Moolenaar and Meekhof in Lansing to share our concerns.  

New Business
*U.S. House of Representatives HR 5685 “Farm Regulatory Certainty Act”.  If this becomes law No citizen could sue any farm for any reason.  Read the bill on line (just type in HR 5685) or read the hand outs provided.  Gary will send a letter to Congressman Moolenaar from HPR.  Shorter versions were provided as a sample for HPR members to send to Ashton Bortz, aide to Moolenaar.  
*Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) technician for Gratiot County.  We wrote letters and in October will have a full time tech in Gratiot County. This person will work with farmers who volunteer to become MAEAP certified and therefore, hopefully, environmentally sound.  MAEAP technicians do not reach out to farmers, but wait for farmers to come to them.  We need to discuss this policy once our MAEAP technician is on board.  We need our farmers and we need them to be a part of the solution in cleaning our rivers!  Jane learned while writing the Watershed Management Plan that to be a healthy watershed, 50-100 percent needs to be agricultural or wild land(as opposed to parking lots, etc.)  Gratiot County is 79.5% ag.  
Concern about a new Dairy Farm with 2,500 cows going in at Buchanan and Wisner Roads led to further discussion.  Murray Borello’s last ‘poop count’ likened the number of cows in Gratiot County to 500,000 (let me write that out:  FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND) people moving in to Gratiot County and having no sewer system required.  
Jerry May said each CAFO comes with a nutrient management plan which promises that there is enough land to handle the manure.  Manure is good fertilizer when applied in the right amounts.  Our experience is that the applications are not always appropriately measured or applied, especially if liquified and spread on our tiled fields which do not allow the nutrients to leach into the soil before draining off into ditches, then creeks, then rivers, then lakes.  
Chuck suggests we invite MIKE BIANDO to a meeting to explain the NPDES permitting and how CAFOs are allowed and monitored.
*Where do we go from here?  Gary wonders if we need to pick a section and better it.  Focus on the Honeyoye for example and get it cleaned up before moving on to the next section.  The Forest Hill  CAFO is diminishing but there are still others.  Jerry reminded us that the Watershed Plan should guide us.  It identifies critical areas.
After the Watershed is done, DEQ 318 will assess problems.  
Field Tiles are not regulated.  The Soil Conservation District no longer involves itself in this so farmer mains are not recorded though farmers are working toward a better and organized system  
This SPRING Gary is working with Alma College on bringing together farmers, HPR, concerned citizens, health Department, etc for a seminar.  Planning meeting is AUGUST 24.  Time and place TBD.  (Gary)

Adjournment  (Marcus Cheatham/Bernie Bessert)

Next meeting:

Alma College Reports
(Borello, Keeton, Students)
September 8, 2016
7 p.m.
Large conference room, Alma Public Library

Respectfully submitted,

Dawn Brady