The Rogue River is just minutes north of Michigan's second largest metropolitan area, Grand Rapids. The Rogue is an extremely important trout fishery in southern Michigan and is the newest location of Trout Unlimited's new Home Rivers Initiative, a watershed-based restoration project that will address policy initiatives as well as restoration throughout the watershed.
The watershed covers a 260-square-mile drainage area before flowing south into the Grand River, which ultimately empties into Lake Michigan. The lower portion of the river, below the dam in Rockford, is fabled for its excellent steelhead runs in the late winter and early spring. The eastern tributaries, particularly Cedar, Stegman, and Duke creeks, host significant brown and rainbow trout fisheries.
Over half of the land in the Rogue River Watershed is agricultural and about a third of the land is forested. However, lying in the urban shadow of one of the fastest growing areas in Michigan, the pressures from growth and development present some sizable challenges. For example, the lower portion of the watershed, largely in Kent County, is currently experiencing significant land conversion from rural to urban use. Urban areas can generate large amounts of nonpoint source pollution from runoff and storm sewer discharge. Increased urbanization can lead to increased flows, unstable water temperatures, and higher levels of nutrients, heavy metals, and bacteria in a stream system.
This project on the Rogue River will work with other organizations 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 to improve existing river conditions, working with local governments to improve municipal planning and increasing capacity to help ensure advocates for long-term protection of the Rogue.
The Rogue River Watershed has many capable conservation groups with a long history of collaboration. Primarily, TU will partner with the Schrems West Michigan TU chapter, Michigan Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Timberland Resource Conservation & Development Area Council and the Rogue River Watershed Council. Financial support for the project has been generously provided by the Frey Foundation, the Wege Foundation, Wolverine World Wide, Inc., the Schrems West Michigan Chapter of TU and Robert DeVilbiss.
For more information about the project, contact Nichol De Mol, project manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 231-557-6362.