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Tag Archive | "Rogue River"

Rogue River Green team returns to improve watershed


From left to right: Intern DeAnna Clum, students Liam Gardner, James Olsen, Max Homrich and Claire Gault visiting a garden in Grand Rapids.

From left to right: Intern DeAnna Clum, students Liam Gardner, James Olsen, Max Homrich and Claire Gault visiting a garden in Grand Rapids.

Be on the lookout this summer for eight local high school students working in their community to protect its water resources. Through a program with Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative, the Green Team of students are spending their summer learning about the Rogue River and creative ways to manage its major pollutant—stormwater runoff—with green infrastructure.

Rockford High School students Max Homrich and James Olsen installing a rain garden for a property owner on Rum Creek.

Rockford High School students Max Homrich and James Olsen installing a rain garden for a property owner on Rum Creek.

The June team, comprised of Liam Gardner, Max Homrich, James Olsen, and returning member Claire Gault, are led by local landscaper and native plant specialist Georgia Donovan. During their four weeks, the students will be working on public and private lands to install and maintain rain gardens, bioswales, and other native landscaping techniques in Rockford, Cedar Springs, and Sparta.

In addition to field work, the students will be working with their partner Green Team downstream in Plaster Creek—taking classes at Calvin College, working in the greenhouse with Plaster Creek Stewards, and meeting professionals in the environmental field for valuable job training. Although many of the students hope to pursue a career in aquatic ecology and biology, the knowledge they are gaining through this experience will help them make good decisions as a citizen of the planet in every aspect of their life.

If you see the Green Team working on riparian buffers to Rum Creek in Rockford, or planting a rain garden by CS Tool Engineering in Cedar Springs, or landscaping Sparta Area Schools’ campuses with native vegetation, be sure to say hi and thank them for their efforts to protect the Rogue River across the watershed.

The Green Team is supported by a grant through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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$200,000 grant will help restore wetlands


 

The 50-acre conservation easement will protect lakes and emergent wetlands in the watershed from development. Nelson Lake, just off Division, and east of Sparta, is one of the lakes in the conservation easement. Photo Credit: Pete DeBoer

The 50-acre conservation easement will protect lakes and emergent wetlands in the watershed from development. Nelson Lake, just off Division, and east of Sparta, is one of the lakes in the conservation easement. Photo Credit: Pete DeBoer

Cedar Springs and Sparta to benefit

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently announced more than $4.3 million in grants to protect Michigan lakes and streams from pollution, and a group working on projects in Cedar Springs and Sparta received a portion of it.

Trout Unlimited received $239,449 to restore wetlands, and to protect a 50-acre property with a permanent conservation easement in the Rogue River watershed, as part of the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. The City of Cedar Springs and the Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team has contributed $22,000 to this project. Additional project partners include the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, SouthPeat Environmental LLC, the Rogue River Watershed Partners, and the Kent County Drain Commissioner Office.

Specific wetland activities include restoring approximately 5 acres of wetlands in the Cedar Springs and Sparta area. Two wetlands will be restored in Cedar Springs, both on City of Cedar Springs property. One is a half acre by the fire barn, where the new library will built (between the firebarn and Cedar Creek) and two acres at North Park, just east off of Main Street (between Oak Street and Cedar Springs Mobile Estates).

Two wetlands will also be restored in the Sparta area—one acre on the corner of M37 and Main St, and 1.5 acres off of Phelps, on private property.

Once restored, these sites will play a huge role in reducing sediment in Cedar and Nash Creeks and helping to stabilize water temperature by controlling stormwater runoff.  In addition, identification and prioritization of historically lost wetlands will be done and potential wetland restoration areas in the entire watershed will be quantified for future projects.

A second portion of the project is the completion of a conservation easement, permanently protecting approximately 50 acres in the watershed. The 50-acre conservation easement is located just east of Sparta, off of Division, on private property.

This property is directly adjacent to 124 acres of permanently protected land. The area just outside of the property is experiencing development pressure. The conservation easement will eliminate all development in this area, as well as provide buffer zones to the waterways and wetland areas.

These grants will help restore impaired waters and protect high-quality waters by reducing nonpoint sources of sediment, nutrients and other contaminants. Nonpoint source pollution is runoff that picks up both natural and human contaminants as it moves across the ground and eventually deposits it into waterways.

This two year project will begin in October 2016 and will be part of the current Trout Unlimited Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. This project is a multi-year collaborative watershed restoration project. Local foundations, businesses and other donors have contributed funds towards the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. The City of Cedar Springs and the Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team has contributed $22,000 to this project. Additional project partners include the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, SouthPeat Environmental LLC, the Rogue River Watershed Partners, and the Kent County Drain Commissioner Office.

A Trout Unlimited Project Manager and Project Coordinator work to improve existing river conditions through restoration actions, work with local governments to improve municipal planning, and increase capacity to help ensure advocates for long-term protection of the Rogue.

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Barrels and Brews with Trout Unlimited


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What do rain barrels and a business making great beer have in common? Clean water for the Rogue River.

Rockford Brewing Company will once again be hosting a rain barrel workshop series to help protect the Rogue River. Trout Unlimited has been conducting rain barrel workshops at Rockford Brewing Company since 2013, successfully distributing 150 barrels to the local community.  Trout Unlimited is partnering with Plainfield Charter Township and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council to conduct these workshops, which will be held on Tuesdays at 6:30 on June 21, July 19, and August 16. All workshops include everything you need to set up your barrel and take around 45 minutes. Rain barrels are $30 apiece and you must sign-up for a workshop at rainbarrels.wmeac.org.

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater (stormwater) from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.  Stormwater is the leading source of water pollution in West Michigan. The average rain barrel will keep 1,815 gallons of stormwater out of our lakes and rivers each year. Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy.  A rain barrel collects water and stores it for when you need it most—during periods of drought to water plants, your garden, or wash your car. Additionally, rainwater is naturally soft and devoid of minerals, chlorine and other chemicals found in city water, so it is a better alternative for your plants.

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What’s “bugging” you in our streams?


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Volunteers needed for 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, May 7, 2016 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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Barrels and Brews at Cedar Springs Brewing Company


 

This photo was taken at a rain barrel workshop in Rockford. Cedar Springs residents have a chance to make their own this spring.

This photo was taken at a rain barrel workshop in Rockford. Cedar Springs residents have a chance to make their own this spring.

Save the dates—April 26, May 23

Are you interested in protecting the Great Lakes at home, or looking to save money by reducing your water bill? Then don’t miss Cedar Springs Brewing Company’s first ever rain barrel workshops!

Trout Unlimited has been successfully conducting rain barrel workshops in the Rogue River watershed since 2013. This spring, Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative teamed up with the new Cedar Springs Brewing Company to host two rain barrel workshops for the citizens of Cedar Springs and everyone who would like to protect their local water resources.

Want to know more about rain barrels? A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise end up in your local waterways as polluted stormwater runoff. The average rain barrel will keep 1,815 gallons of stormwater out of our lakes and rivers each year. Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy. A rain barrel collects water and stores it for when you need it most—during periods of drought—to water plants, your garden, or wash your car. Additionally, rainwater is naturally “soft” and devoid of minerals, chlorine and other chemicals found in city water, so it is a better alternative for your plants.

The workshops will be held on Tuesday, April 26 and Monday, May 23 at Cedar Springs Brewing Company at 6:30 p.m. The workshop includes everything you need to set up your barrel and takes around 45 minutes. Rain barrels are $30 a piece and you must sign-up for a workshop at rainbarrels.wmeac.org. We look forward to seeing you out there!

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Trout Unlimited study finds Rogue River vital to economy


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Spending by visitors engaging in river-related recreation activities leads to more than $7 million in economic activity during the four-month summer season.

Spending by visitors engaging in river-related recreation activities leads to more than $7 million in economic activity during the four-month summer season.

A recent study showing the value of the Rogue River to the area economy bodes well for what can happen in Cedar Springs in the near future.

“The Rogue River is a treasured resource for many communities, offering a variety of recreational opportunities from first-class trout fishing to hiking and wildlife viewing,” wrote Jamie Vaughan, Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative Coordinator. “However, the river’s monetary value to the local economy has never been completely quantified. For this reason, Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative commissioned a study and teamed with researchers Erik Nordman, Ph.D. and Paul Isely, Ph.D. from Grand Valley State University to estimate the economic development impact of recreation within the Rogue River watershed.”

Vaughan said that the economic impact of river-related recreation was assessed using on-site surveys at several locations in the Rogue River watershed in the summer of 2015. Survey locations included: The Rogue Golf Club, Rockford Dam and canoe launch, Grand-Rogue River Access Site and Campground, White Pine Trail trailheads in Comstock Park, Belmont, Rockford, and Cedar Springs, as well as events such as Praise in the Park, Art in the Park, and the Rockford Farmers Market.

The analysis of the surveys focused on visitors who 1) were primarily visiting the area because of the Rogue River; and 2) live outside of the watershed. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents indicated that they live outside the watershed and the primary reason for visiting the Rogue River watershed was to participate in river-related recreation activities. Most of these visitors were from the greater Grand Rapids area, including Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Allegan, and Ionia counties. About 20 percent of the respondents reported living in Rockford.  Other visitors reported residences in Lansing and Ann Arbor Michigan and as far away as Iowa.

“Our results found that the total direct spending for the four-month summer season, including both day users and overnight visitors, was more than $4.1 million. The total economic activity, which includes indirect spending, was more than $7.3 million. This led to additional earnings of more than $1.7 million and supported the employment of 64 full time jobs, which is substantial in a small city like Rockford,” noted Vaughan.

And it’s not just Rockford that benefits, or will benefit in the future. Cedar Springs is part of the Rogue River watershed, with Cedar Creek being an important tributary to the overall health of the coldwater fishery in the Rogue River. The Community Building Development Team, in partnership with the Cedar Springs Library and the City of Cedar Springs, has several projects planned for the areas bordering Cedar Creek, including a new library, community center, ampitheather, and boardwalk along the creek.

“As part of this study, surveying was done all around the Rogue River area, including the White Pine Trailhead in Cedar Springs, so this report does include the river’s impact to Cedar Springs,” said Vaughan. “With all of the incredible work that the CBDT is doing, I think this report shows just how valuable that work will potentially be to Cedar Springs. Taking into consideration the trail, the Cedar Creek projects, the brewery, etc. and how those will attract many different users of the Rogue River to Cedar Springs, I would expect to see that economic value become even greater.”

Vaughan noted that this study shows that the Rogue River and its scenic and recreational amenities attract visitors from across West Michigan and beyond. “It’s important for the quality of life of local residents and is a significant amenity that drives economic development in the region. Trout Unlimited hopes that these results will enable communities and businesses to better understand the contribution of the Rogue River to local economies and make its protection and restoration a highest priority in decision-making so that these high-quality recreation activities can continue to take place,” said Vaughan.

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Second Green Team works to improve Rogue River


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The Plaster Creek Green Team came up to Cedar Springs to help their Rogue River counterparts plant a rain garden at CS Tool Engineering.

 

This summer, Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project employed a “Green Team” of eight high school students from all over the watershed to install and maintain green infrastructure practices, such as rain gardens, bioswales, and vegetated buffers. These practices use vegetation, soils, and natural processes to control storm water runoff, the leading source of water pollution in West Michigan, to create healthier urban environments.

The “Green Team,” funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a replication of a successful program of the Plaster Creek Stewards, a part of Calvin College. The addition of the Rogue River Green Team, working in an upstream community, in a much higher quality watershed than Plaster Creek, exposed the students to matters of environmental injustice and the importance of the upstream-downstream relationship.

Bridget Flanery from Sparta, Cassidy Freeman and MaKayla Plekes from Rockford, and Troy Wilde from Kent City, made up the July team, led by local artist, landscaper and native plant specialist Georgia Donovan. Over the course of four weeks, the students implemented new projects, with Trout Unlimited, and helped local businesses and schools maintain their existing projects. The “Green Team” planted a stream buffer on Rum Creek for a Rockford homeowner, expanded a rain garden at CS Tool Engineering in Cedar Springs, and helped Sparta teacher Sue Blackall plant a native flower garden at the entrance of Sparta High School. They even visited Grand Rapids for a day to tour Catalyst Partner’s LEED Certified facilities and worked on their native gardens.

A major advantage of the partnership with Calvin College is the opportunity to expose the high school students to a college campus and demystify the experience, making them more likely to attend college when they graduate. The students took college courses with biology professor Dave Warners and they helped Calvin students carry out their summer research projects. The combination of classroom teaching, with hands-on fieldwork, has provided the Green Team participants with unique job training and exposure to many different careers in the environmental field. But more than that, the students got a once in a lifetime experience to expand their knowledge and make a difference in their community.

Bridget, a student at Wellspring Preparatory, said about her summer, “Being a part of the Green Team has been one of the most rewarding experiences; not only for myself but for the environment around me.”

Trout Unlimited and the Plaster Creek Stewards have EPA funding for two Green Teams next year as well, reaching 32 students in just two summers.

The Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative Project is funded by the Frey Foundation, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Wege Foundation, the Wolverine World Wide Foundation, and the Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited.

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Kayaker dies in Rogue River


 

A kayaking death in the area last weekend has authorities reminding boaters to wear a personal flotation device while boating.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, two men were kayaking on the Rogue River early Saturday afternoon, February 7, when they encountered a large body of ice on the river. The two attempted to exit their kayaks and walk over the ice, when of the kayaks began to take on water. The victim, Thomas Shepard, a 65-year-old Grand Rapids resident, was pulled under the ice shelf by the strong current and the second kayaker, Daniel Silverthorn, a 50-year-old Grand Rapids resident, attempted to render aid to his friend, but was unsuccessful. Neither subject had been wearing a personal flotation device.

After attempting to render aid, Silverthorn made contact with nearby residents, who called 9-1-1.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Plainfield Fire Department and Rockford Ambulance were dispatched to the area of Rio Rogue Lane NE and Roguewood DR NE about 2:34 p.m. The sheriff’s department dive team, with the assistance of the Plainfield and Cannon Township fire departments and Aeromed, conducted an extensive search in an attempt to locate and recover Shepard’s body. They ended the initial search late Saturday night after conditions became unsafe for emergency personnel.

A second search was conducted in the early morning hours of Sunday, February 8th by the KCSD, along with the Plainfield and Cannon township fire departments. During the course of the second search, Shepard’s body was located a short distance from where he had last been seen alive.

The medical examiner’s office was contacted and the victim’s family was notified of the recovery.

No foul play is suspected.

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Local non-profit looks to improve area


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By Judy Reed

 

There are a lot of plans in the works for the corner of Main and Maple Streets and the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) hopes to be a big part of it.

In addition to the new Cedar Springs Library, on the northwest corner, and the brewery on the southwest corner, the CBDT hopes to build an ampitheatre on the city’s property (the old foundry property) to the west of where the library will be. The team was at the Cedar Springs City Council meeting last Thursday, October 9, to pitch the project.

“The Community Building Development Team is a group of people who want to make the community better,” explained CBDT trustee Tom Holloway, and Pastor at Solon Center Wesleyan Church. “We believe this fits with the prior library board’s plans in 2007 of having both a library and ampitheatre.”

Holloway asked the City Council to let the group build the ampitheatre—and they would do it for free. “All we ask is for the city to maintain it,” he said, “and pay the utilities.”

He explained that they hope to develop the whole area—on both the east and west side of the trail. They are currently buying the Johnson lumberyard property to that end. Besides the ampitheatre, they are working towards helping to restore wetlands, and install walking bridges, to give kids a place to fish. On the lumberyard property, they hope to build a community center and recreation center. Other plans include a boardwalk along Cedar Creek, rain gardens, skate park, spash pad and playground equipment, campground, and fish hatchery.

They have already been working on rain gardens along Cedar Creek with Trout Unlimited, and other groups, and recently voted to take advantage of a matching 3 to 1 grant opportunity. They voted unanimously to pledge  $20,000 towards Trout Unlimited’s Department of Environmental Quality 319 Grant Proposal, which will restore and enhance wetlands in downtown Cedar Springs and elsewhere in the Rogue River watershed, if funded. The project will look to develop future conservation projects in the Rogue River watershed, including other wetland restoration projects, buffer strip plantings, and other efforts directed at improving the health of the Rogue. According to the CBDT, the grant could be worth $300,000 to $400,000 to the community.

The group’s mission is to retain the small-town character of Cedar Springs, incorporate natural features, link neighborhoods and people, enhance characteristics that already define our community, and make it easy for families, youth, senior citizens, organizations, and all community members to gather, celebrate and serve each other.

With that in mind, they’ve adopted a railroad theme for their group, since two railroads ran through the community in its early days. They have chosen an old photo for their logo. In it you can see Lute Fullington’s carriage. His livery service transported people from the trains to hotels, businesses, and homes in our area.

The Cedar Springs City Council heard the CBDT’s presentation, but no agreement has yet been made on whether they will allow the ampitheatre to be built there. Holloway said that after the library is built, they would try to match it in design.

Members of the CBDT are Kurt Mabie, President; Tom Mabie, Vice President; Betty Truesdale, Treasurer; Carolee Cole, Secretary; and Sue Wolfe, Dale Larson, Sally Howland, Nick Andres and Tom Holloway, trustees.

The public is invited to attend their meetings the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Amish Furniture Store, 141 S. Main Street, Cedar Springs.

 

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Registration for Rogue River Expedition Closes on May 31


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This is your last chance to sign up for this 3-day public journey of discovery to experience conditions and opportunities of Michigan’s Rogue River and its watershed. It will be held June 19 through the 21. The Expedition team will travel by land, canoes, and kayaks, and provide demonstrations, interactive displays, and exhibits in communities along the Rogue River.

* Thursday, June 19th: The Expedition will begin with an opening ceremony at the Howard Christensen Nature Center, followed by a land tour of the Rogue River’s Headwaters. The night will conclude back at the Howard Christensen Nature Center with a dinner, owl walk, and camping.

* Friday, June 20:  Participants will gather at Nash Creek in Sparta for the paddling portion of the Expedition. The Rogue River Watershed Partners and the Village of Sparta will be hosting a Watershed Showcase that is free and open to the public with water demonstrations, hands-on activities for kids, and free prizes. Expedition participants will kayak down Nash Creek in to the Rogue River and take out at Camp Rockford right at the mouth of Stegman Creek.  Participants will enjoy dinner in downtown Rockford along with live music and microbrews at Rockford Brewing Company. $1 of every pint sold that evening at Rockford Brewing will be donated to conservation and restoration efforts in the Rogue River watershed.

* Saturday, June 21: Water activities (stream insects, fish, birds) will take place at Camp Rockford and our open and free to the public.  Expedition participants will float down to the City of Rockford and enjoy lunch and a presentation by the Rockford Historical Society. A watershed booth will also be at the Farmers Market so stop by for some free stuff and watershed information.  Expedition participants will finish the last leg of the Rogue and have a wrap-up event and celebration at the park along the Grand River.

Join this journey and learn more about the Rogue River. Cost for the full trip is $75/person. For more information about the Rogue River Expedition and to sign-up please visit the website at www.swmtu.org/rogueriverexpedition.  Thank you to our major sponsors – the City of Rockford, the Rogue River Expedition Planning Committee, Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited, and Trout Unlimited.

 

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