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Saturday May 27, 2017
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Soft Healing at the Arb



During a weekend in mid-September, 2008, the Ann Arbor area was hit with near-record rainfall. Don Gray was eager to see how the vanes were working in high water. Though the vanes were completely submerged, subtle patterns on the water's surface made it clear they were still deflecting the rain-swollen power of the water away from the bank.

Fleming Creek

A downsized version of those vanes also saved a collapsing bank of Fleming Creek in the Botanical Gardens. ThereFleming, a small tributary of the Huron, was undermining the bank of a footpath. In the summer of 2006, crushed limestone rocks were brought to the site in a tractor driven by project manager Sarah Weiss, a Matthaei employee. With a blond ponytail flowing out the back of her baseball cap, she emanates the enthusiasm and lean energy of a long-distance runner.

Weiss worked closely with Don Gray planning the project. "I worked with Don over the course of many months, getting approval from the Department of Environmental Quality and the DNR. Then we had to wait for frost laws to lift so we could get our materials in. There was all this buildup, and me chomping at the bit. We got the supplies, trucked it out there, got absolutely ready. There had been months of preparation-and then to build both vanes in two days was just mind-boggling. We anticipated having more staff on one of the days but we were short-handed-so Don was one of the heavy lifters. Which is really amazing."

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