The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Leave Bean Creek as a natural stream 3.11.09

Written by David Green.

By Janet Kauffman

Bean/Tiffin Watershed Coalition

Recently, in a survey about Bean Creek, the Lenawee Conservation District asked, “Do you think Bean Creek should be a county drain?” Bean Creek, our beautiful natural stream? Bean Creek, flowing naturally from Devils Lake to the Ohio line? Bean Creek, with its abundant fish and mussels, some very rare?

The answer, for many many reasons, is “No, Bean Creek should not now, not ever, be a county drain.” The River Raisin is not a county drain. (Many of the River Raisin’s tributaries are drains, as are some of Bean Creek’s tributaries in flatter areas to the south.)

But Bean Creek and the River Raisin are natural streams and always have been. Their coldwater tributaries are natural streams. It’s important to keep them that way.

In many places the Bean looks like a river up north, thanks to the forested banks, the riffles and rapids, the native shrubs like nannyberry and witch hazel growing along its edges, bending over the water, shading and cooling the stream for 17 species of freshwater mussels, for dozens of species of fish, and for the thousands and thousands of aquatic insects that are food for fish.

Bean Creek’s coldwater tributaries are a rarity in this part of Michigan. Flowing out of the uplands of Hillsdale County, the water is cold enough for fish like trout, documented in the past, and for mottled sculpin and an endangered fish—the redside dace (see it at www.beancreekwatershed.org)—documented in recent years just north of Hudson.

A drain can be cleared, it can be dredged, its banks can be scraped clean. The cost isn’t just the cost people pay for drain work, although those assessments have just doubled with a new Michigan law.

Even more, we could pay an immeasurable cost—the loss of a rare natural stream, its natural flow and function.

The Tangle, the Tea

It’s well-known how trees and shrubs along streams hold the banks in place with their roots, how vegetation holds back sediment. But in many ways people are just discovering how natural streams work, how they feed the whole river system.

The tangle, the overhanging shrubs and trees are even more important than you might guess.

Research at the Stroud Water Research Center has recently revolutionized our understanding of natural streams, especially forested headwater streams like the Bean. Studies of these streams show how solar energy in the form of leaves provides the essential food, a “watershed tea,” that flows downstream and nourishes the whole length of a river system.

Here’s how that “tea” is brewed: leaves and overhanging woody debris fall into the stream and this leaf litter—with attached microbes and aquatic insects collecting, scraping and shredding the organic material—generates a flow of energy that feeds all life in the river downstream, rivers that are too wide to have their own leaves overhead, such as the Maumee River.

When you know how rivers and natural streams work, you see them differently. Instead of a tangle of brush to chop or remove, you see networks of roots holding soil, preventing erosion. You see the cooling canopy. Instead of woody debris in the water as a mess or a problem, you see organic material to feed fish and everything downstream as well.

There’s food, energy and abundant life in leaf litter and woody debris, in the sand bars that build and shift in water, in the cobbles and riffles of a natural stream. Bean Creek has them all. Let’s keep it that way—a rare and beautiful stream, flowing naturally.

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