Equity, greenways, and the Grand Prix

issue # 4 | June 2, 2019 | PLUS How much of Lake Erie's pollution comes from the Detroit River?

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Detroit | Stories from around the city & region

Environmental justice | High blood pressure, water affordability, solar equity

This week brought us several stories on the environmental challenges faced by low-income folks:

  • Can data help cure Detroit’s rampant high blood pressure? Health reporter Robin Erb reports on a new mapping tool developed by WSU to track the neighborhood geography of high blood pressure in Detroit. The hope? That one day providers can address health disparities at the street level. High blood pressure is known to be impacted by environmental stressors like pollution, temperature, and noise. Bridge Magazine, Journal of Clinical Hypertension

  • Why does water cost so much in Highland Park? It’s a tale of infrastructure decay, mismanagement, and a lack of resources, reports Eleanore Catolico. Unaffordable water rates—and water shutoffs—are a growing problem across the nation, particularly in older, low-income areas like Detroit and Highland Park. Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says shutoffs are down this year. Metro Times, New York Times, Detroit News

  • Solar power… for the wealthy? Biba Adams delves into why solar power is mostly inaccessible for low-income people in Detroit, even though most potential solar capacity in the U.S. resides in low-moderate renter-occupied and multifamily buildings. Distributed community solar, which is more affordable for low-income customers, threatens utilities’ business model and has been the focus of DTE-backed lobbying efforts to discredit it in communities of color, Adams writes. But for those who can afford to pay extra, there’s a way—DTE Energy’s MI Green Power Plan allows customers to voluntarily pay higher rates to help subsidize its renewables development. Midwest Energy News

Parks and greenways | Buffalo soldiers, the Joe Louis Greenway, and what to do outside in Detroit

Lots of parks news this week. A Detroit group with the aim of creating a monument to the Buffalo Soldiers in a Grandmont-Rosedale park is crowdfunding to raise $50,000 (Curbed Detroit). The City of Detroit is holding four visioning sessions in June to inform the future of the Joe Louis Greenway (City of Detroit). A five-acre playground is coming to the Detroit River, courtesy of Delta Dental (Freep), and an animal-themed playground is coming to Detroit’s west riverfront (Metro Times). Want to get outside? Here are the top 4 things to do on the Detroit riverfront (CBS Detroit). Or learn about Detroit’s auto industry from a bike or a kayak (Freep).

Grand Prix | Belle Isle has ‘never looked better’

Love it or hate it, the Grand Prix on Belle Isle will soon be over for the year. Writer Brian Allnutt gives a brief history of the conflict, asking whether the race is an “acceptable compromise” for a public park looking to raise funds. One take:

As for race organizer and billionaire Roger Penske, Detroit’s island gem has “never looked better.”

Citylab, WDET

Water Quality | Lake Erie, phosphorus, and the Detroit River

Lake Erie’s algae bloom is projected to be more severe this year (thanks to more rain and unregulated manure from factory farms).

How much of that phosphorus comes from the Detroit River? The answer: about one quarter. The first-ever accounting of P sources and contributions in the Detroit River watershed indicate that more than half of the Detroit River’s P comes from Lake Huron, with the remainder coming from Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant and the agricultural Thames River in Canada. The Great Lakes Water Authority this week reported it has surpassed state and federal goals for P reduction early—the goals required a 40% reduction by 2025, and officials claim a 60% reduction has been achieved.

Freep, Environmental Law & Policy Center, University of Michigan, Associated Press


Michigan Matters |The week’s big Michigan stories

Enbridge Line 5 | Pipeline of peril

The race is on to determine the future of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline running below the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge informed Gov. Whitmer that the company can build a new pipeline below the straits in five years, instead of the original ten-year timeline agreed on with Gov. Snyder. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is threatening to move to shut the oil pipeline this month if an agreement is not reached. Freep columnist Nancy Kaffer reports on hallway banter overheard at the Mackinac Policy Conference this week, in which an Enbridge official indicated that closing the pipeline is not an option.

Detroit News, Associated Press, Freep

Wildlife | White deer, black deer, giant trout, and a sad end for a wolf

Kensington Park’s albino doe has given birth to twin fawns, but park officials aren’t yet sure if the offspring share the mother’s unusual coloring (Hometown Life). Near Grand Rapids, a rare pitch black deer was spotted (Freep). Lake trout are healthy near Isle Royale, as evidenced by this monster pulled out by an MDNR sampling vessel (Freep). And sadly, a Canadian wolf relocated to Isle Royale was found dead (Michigan Radio).

Fishing | Tribal rights

Michigan Radio’s two-part report on the history and status of tribal fishing rights in Michigan describes historical and contemporary resentment on the part of non-native fisherman.

Michigan Radio

Asian Carp | Funding not a ‘sure thing’

Asian Carp were on the agenda at the Mackinac Policy Conference this past week. A bipartisan congressional delegation is set to visit Illinois on July 1 to view the site of a $750 million proposal to keep carp out of the Great Lakes. The plan includes additional electric barriers, an air bubble curtain, and special underwater speakers. But the funding is “not a sure thing” according to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Freep

See | Insta-photo pick

Thanks to tamiduquette for sharing her afternoon at the Detroit River. Ahhhh.

Tag your photos of metro Detroit’s great outdoors on @planetdetroitnews on Instagram to be considered for this spot.


Read, watch, listen

Read | A history of southeast Michigan’s freshwater from Port Huron to Monroe is forthcoming from venerable environmental author Dave Dempsey via MSU Press. “The Heart of the Lakes: Freshwater in the Past, Present and Future of Southeast Michigan” was released June 1. MSU Press

Watch | Great Lakes Now’s second episode for 2019 explores shipwrecks and life on a freighter. Its first episode delves into treatment of PFAS in Ann Arbor’s drinking water and life on a Lake Erie island.

Listen | On the Media delves into the Trump administration’s efforts to curb climate science.


Connect | Engage with Detroit’s environment

Have an opportunity you’d like to see featured here? Let us know.

Buy some native plants | Multiple locations

One more plant sale on June 8 at the Clinton River Watershed Council >>>

Learn about sustainable brands | Detroit

The conference runs June 3-6 at Cobo Center >>>

Macomb County Master Gardener Association Garden Tour | Clinton Township

Seven gardens included on June 22 >>>

DEPTH to Detroit | Michigan Science Center

Thus “part gallery, part science lab, part theater” exhibit will explore the world’s connection to water. Opens June 8 >>>

Urban agriculture bike tour | Detroit

Led by Wheelhouse Detroit Bike Shop and Keep Growing Detroit on June 26 and August 28 >>>

Jobbie Nooner | Lake St. Clair

Here’s one way to enjoy the outdoors. June 28 >>>

Tour native residential landscapes | Novi

You too can have more than a lawn in the suburbs. July 6 >>>

Detroit Kite Festival | Belle Isle

Let’s go fly a kite on July 14 >>>

Lavender Harvest Festival | Milan

Food, music, and U-pick lavender on July 13 >>>

Learn how to plant a butterfly garden | Mount Clemens

July 18 at Mount Clemens Public Library >>>

Native bee walk & talk | Detroit

Join Greening of Detroit at Lafayette Gardens to learn about native bee diversity on July 20 >>>

Mushroom Walk | Royal Oak

Learn about fungi of the urban woods on July 27 >>>

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