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Tag Archive | "Rogue River"

What’s “bugging” you in our streams?


OUT-stream_insect_monitoring

In many cases we think bugs are a nuisance, but bugs in a stream can be very useful.  Stream insects are a good measure of water quality.  Unlike fish, stream insects cannot move around much so they are less able to escape the effects of sediment and other pollutants that diminish water quality. Stream insects can also be easily identified.

Trout Unlimited National, Cannon Township and Michigan Trout Unlimited will be holding a Stream Insect Monitoring Event on Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 North Monroe Street in Rockford. Volunteers will be assigned to a monitoring group with a team leader. Each group will collect and identify insects from different stream sites in the Rogue River and Bear Creek watersheds. You don’t need any experience with stream insects to participate and all ages are welcome.

What will you need? Please RSVP to Nichol De Mol at 231-557-6362 or ndemol@tu.org if you would like to attend.  Lunch will be provided for all volunteers.  Please bring waders if you have them and dress for the weather conditions.

 

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Become a Rogue River citizen monitor


As we come to learn more about the connection we all share with our watershed, the importance of the health of our streams becomes increasingly obvious. Because everything that happens to the land within a watershed eventually ends up in the streams, monitoring the health of streams is a way to assess the health of the entire watershed. This data provides information about the quality of the groundwater and drinking water in an area as well as the ability of the watershed to support wildlife.

Unfortunately, analyzing a single water sample is not a good way to understand or characterize the health of a stream or its watershed. Instead, stream monitoring is usually done over long periods of time (at least one year) in order to capture seasonal changes as well as changes in human intervention over time (such as nutrient inputs from fertilizer and altered stream banks). To help with this effort, Trout Unlimited is looking for volunteers to become Rogue River Citizen Monitors.

Training will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2012 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 N Monroe St NE. Participants will learn how to collect and identify stream insects and be trained to collect stream temperature and flow. If you would like to participate please contact Nichol De Mol at ndemol@tu.org or 231-557-6362. Free lunch for all participants!

 

 

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Walk or run: benefits for all


According to research, natural settings increase a sense of self-worth and decrease stress. The Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC), nestled in the Rogue River State Game Area, is the perfect setting for a walk or run, especially on Sunday, October 23. This is the date for the first Red Pine Run that is being held to promote healthy lifestyles and to benefit the nature center. The public is invited to enjoy a beautiful Michigan fall day by running or walking the 5K (3.1 mile) trail or grabbing a friend or family member to participate as a relay team.
The course, designed by Kent City Cross Country coach Jill Evers, is a flat, scenic double loop through the nature center on well-marked trails. Each relay team member will do one loop. Participants doing the full 5K will run/walk the loop twice. The race begins at 2:00 p.m.
Refreshments and an award presentation are scheduled for the finish of the family-friendly race. Participants receive a t-shirt and awards will be given for the top two finishers in each age division.
For participants 19 years old and older, the fee is $20 for registrations received before Oct. 3, and $25 after that date. The registration fee for participants 18 years and younger is $15 before Oct. 3 and $20 afterwards. Registration forms are available on the website at www.lilysfrogpad.com. Lily’s Frog Pad Inc. manages Howard Christensen Nature Center and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Proceeds from the race will help keep the nature center buildings open for school field trips, family workshops and Snow Shoe Saturdays during the winter.
Contact Cindy at (616) 675-3158 or cindy@lilysfrogpad.com with questions. An informational flyer, directions and other information can also be found at www.lilysfrogpad.com.

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Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative


Thanks to Josh Zuiderveen from Streamworks, LLC, the City of Cedar Springs received a grant to restore trout habitat in Cedar Creek. Josh is working with City DPW workers to rebuild the banks and create habitat in Veteran’s Memorial Park and also between Main Street and the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail.

By Tom Noreen and Judy Reed

Many a Cedar Springs resident remembers fishing along the banks of Cedar Creek for brook trout, and telling stories of the one that got away. Thanks to a grant the city received to restore trout habitat by rebuilding the bank along Cedar Creek, those memories (and stories) will stay alive for years to come. And it’s all part of the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative.

In an effort to protect the watershed, Nichol DeMol, Project Manager for Trout Unlimited, is working with local governments to review master plans and ordinances. She is also partnering with the local Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited organization, Rogue River Watershed Council, the West Michigan Land Conservancy, and other groups.

“Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited recently began work on a project along Cedar Creek, which will improve the stream bank and flow of the water through the City of Cedar Springs,” explained De Mol.

She and other volunteers have been gathering data to assess which areas need restoration and reconnection since last fall. They are collecting temperature data, looking at turbidity (clarity), and insect populations. Sampling aquatic insect larva provides a good look at the quality of the water, as some are very sensitive to thermal stress. She is also checking every bridge and culvert of tributary streams within the watershed to ensure fish can navigate through them.

Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative, which began in October 2010, is one of twelve such projects in the US and the only one in Michigan. DeMol said they chose the Rogue because of its location just north of Michigan’s second largest metropolitan area and because it is a coldwater watershed supporting trout populations throughout its drainage. She said, “This project will work over the next several years to address the impacts of urbanization on the river. The emphasis of the work will be to focus on restoration actions, working with local governments, and educating citizens.”
Even though the headwaters of the Rogue River lie in what was Rice Lake, which is now the muck fields east of Grant, 77 percent of the Rogue River watershed lies in Kent County. Its tributaries include Cedar Creek, Little Cedar Creek, White Creek, and Duke Creek in the northern park of the county. It drains a total of 262 square miles.

The Rogue River is home to steelhead, rainbow, and browns below the dam in Rockford. Above the dam you can find brown and rainbow. In the coldwater tributaries such as Cedar Creek you can find brook trout.

Trout need cold water below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and prefer water closer to 60 degrees F. From De Mol’s data, during the summer months the Rogue’s temperature rises to the high 60’s while tributaries, like Cedar Creek, stay cooler. Cedar Creek’s average temperature is slightly less than 60 degrees F in the summer months. The warmest section of Cedar Creek is the portion that flows through the City of Cedar Springs. This is why unrestricted access from the Rogue to the tributaries is critical; fish must be able to move into the cold water as the river warms up.

Key factors that degrade the quality of the water are thermal stress and sediment. While 50 percent of the watershed drains agricultural land, the major sources of stress are from urban areas. As farmland has been converted to subdivisions and shopping areas, water has less chance to soak into the ground. This runoff carries with it both sediments and nutrients from lawn fertilizers and enters the streams at a higher temperature. When rain and snow melt are able to soak into the ground, sediments and pollutants are removed and the temperature is lowered. Retention and detention ponds that collect runoff also help reduce this problem, as do rain gardens for homes. Farmers help by leaving buffer strips around fields that act as a filter and slow down the runoff so it can soak into the ground.

Community outreach is one of De Mol’s projects for sustaining the watershed. She said that since these projects were started, all have been successful for both the community and the river. She is willing to speak to community groups, service clubs, and schools.

She also coordinated a Rogue River Cleanup on a three-mile section below the Rockford dam this spring and is hoping to collaborate with other communities, like Cedar Springs, when they conduct their annual Earth Day cleanup of Cedar Creek. Cedar Springs also recently received a grant for waders and trash picks to clean up the area.

DeMol is looking for volunteers to help with the monitoring. Training is minimal. If you live on or near the Rogue or one of its tributaries and are interested in collecting data at a specific location contact her at the email or phone number listed below. The next large monitoring effort will take place on October 8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The link up location will be at the Algoma Township Hall.

For more information or on how to volunteer please contact Nichol DeMol via telephone at 231-557-6362, email at ndemol@tu.org.

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Easement legacy a permanent protection for Rogue River


by Beth Altena

One family’s dedication to protecting the land and their generous spirit is good news for those in Algoma Township. The Cok family has preserved 126 acres of property along the Rogue River as a conservation easement through the Land Conservancy of West Michigan—an action that ensures the property will never be developed. Stu Cok was one of the speakers at the annual meeting of the Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC) and spoke before the group at the Rockford Community Cabin on Wednesday, Dec. 1, describing why a nature easement was the right choice for his family and their land.
Cok said land has been important to him since he was a child in the Great Depression and was in seven schools in three years. As a young man just out of service in the Marine Corps, he drove around Kent County looking for waterfront property. He was determined to find his own homestead and stay put. “I bought the land in 1953,” he said of his property on the Rogue River downstream of Sparta.
Property prices actually slowed the timeline and size of the easement, Cok noted. The easement allows the Cok family to be compensated for some of the value of the land, but with property prices so low it was difficult to get an estimate.
“While we felt it was important to protect the land with a conservation easement for a multitude of reasons, here are just a few that stand out,” Cok stated.

The Cok family protects over 125 acres of forested floodplain.

Cok described the importance of land for his family as well as himself. “We built our home here in 1964 and all of our children, and now our grandchildren, have grown up on the land. We feel that all of us have been able to form a close relationship with the natural world here, and preserving its natural beauty was very important to us.”
“Also, while we have contemplated developing small portions of the land in the past, we have come to the conclusion that even minimal development would do irreparable harm to the beauty and natural values that we hold dear. These forests and wetlands drain into a valley, creating a tributary stream, which flows into the mainstream of the Rogue River, all on our land. We felt protection was important to the long-term sustainability of the water quality of the rivershed to maintain its natural characteristic.”
“Lastly, we were able to continue our sustainable forestry operation under the terms of the conservation easement. We are able to periodically remove trees under our forest stewardship plan, which the conservancy has accepted, and this provides the next generations of our family a realistic opportunity for continued ownership. Future generations will have the ability to maintain the property as we have and this legacy aspect of protecting the property was important. We feel a conservation easement was a ‘win-win’ situation for our family and the natural environment into the future.”
Being a good neighbor was on the list of reasons to offer the land for an easement. The Algoma Township resident has been on the Board of Review and Planning Commission for the township. He said the reason people choose to live in the township is because it is less developed.
“The purpose of a conservation easement is to prohibit development. We ask our residents what they want and they say, ‘To preserve open space.’ They want to feel they live in the country,” said Cok.
Cok said it was exciting news to hear the Rogue River has been chosen by Trout Unlimited as a Home Rivers Initiative, a long-term preservation project with the goal of protecting and improving the quality of the river. He said 40 years ago he and others formed a group to protect the Rogue River from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, who proposed a series of dams on the waterway. The dams would flood large bodies of land to make lakes for recreational use. He said the fight his Rogue River Protection organization faced was long and hard and speculated how the dams would have affected the health of the Rogue. Just one of the proposed dams, north of Rockford by US-131, would have created an 11,000-acre parcel of land.
“We beat them, with the help of Jerry Ford, we beat the United States Army Corps of Engineers and seven other federal agencies,” Cok said.
With the easement along the Rogue of Cok’s property, he has again proven to be a protector of land and water. The conservation of the Coks’ land was completed at the end of August 2010.

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