When people think what issues may be high on the priority list in local government, environmental conservation might immediately come to mind. For an organization that is dedicated to protecting land, air and water quality, the City of Rockford stood out for just that reason.
The Izaak Walton League of America’s local chapters recognized Rockford City Manager Michael Young as Conservationist of the Year at their annual banquet, praising him for his care of the environment.
The group specifically praised Young for his part in the creation of the PARCC Side Clean Water Plant, now treating the wastewater of Rockford and the townships of Plainfield, Alpine, Cannon and Courtland. Young was influential in creating and continues to chair the North Kent Sewer Authority, which is responsible for the building of the plant, which offers state-of-the-art sewage processing resulting in water clean enough to drink. The group had other reasons they believe Young is worthy of the award.
The City of Rockford administers their own soil erosion control program, requiring permits for every lot, regardless of size. This is to protect the creeks and the Rogue River as well as the City storm sewers from siltation. The city also requires new development to have conservation easements and park, a total of 15 percent set aside for recreation.
Rockford continues to work toward creating a buffer on the west side of the Rogue River, similar to the buffer provided on the east side by the White Pine Trail. Finally, the City is one of few that has developed a sustainability plan that includes wind, energy, watershed protection and electrical cost savings.
“Michael grew up in Grand Haven and developed a love of the outdoors as a child,” said Fred Eyer during the banquet. “This has carried over into the outdoor interests he has today of flower gardening, inland lake fishing and upland bird and waterfowl hunting. During his 15-year tenure with Rockford, many environmentally friendly things have happened under his guidance.”
Young stated, “The City has quietly been making wise choices with respect to natural resources.” Izaak Walton League members called this “an understatement.”