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Tag Archive | "Rogue River"

Trout Unlimited study finds Rogue River vital to economy


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


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


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


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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What’s “bugging” you in our streams?


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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