Trout Unlimited recently received a $66,172 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) under the Clean Michigan Initiative Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Fund and Section 319 of the Clean Water Act to educate planning commissions on the placement and proper use of storm water practices in the Rogue River Watershed. This project is part of the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative program, a multi-year collaborative integrated watershed restoration project established in the watershed by Trout Unlimited in October 2010. This funding from the DEQ adds to funds contributed to this project by the Frey Foundation, Wege Foundation, Wolverine World Wide Inc., Schrems West Michigan Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and Robert DeVilbiss. The Rogue River Watershed features an outstanding combination of cold, cool and warm waters, which makes it an extremely important trout fishery in southern Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources estimated that angling trips to the Rogue River bring in about $485,000 per year. However, the Rogue River Watershed lies in the urban shadow of one of the fastest growing areas in Michigan. The pressures from growth and development could negatively impact the productivity and diversity in this watershed. Fluctuating water temperature is a serious issue in the Rogue River. Warm stormwater runs off impervious surfaces (roads, rooftops, sidewalks) and can force the Rogue’s various trout species to hide out in the cooler waters of its tributaries. Stormwater pollution is a challenging water quality problem. Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is caused by a discrete number of sources, stormwater pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere. Rainwater and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites and pick up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease, and many other pollutants on the way to our rivers and lakes. Local units of government play an important role by deciding on the extent to which stormwater pollution can be controlled in their community. The project’s goal is to develop a stormwater guidebook to educate planning commissions and professional planners on placement and proper use of stormwater management techniques in the Rogue River Watershed. This project is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2012. If you have any questions about this project or the […]
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Contaminants found in multiple test sites on Wolverine property by BETH ALTENA About a hundred residents, including city officials and Wolverine Worldwide representatives, attended a public meeting held jointly by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Tuesday, April 24 at the Rockford Freshman Center. A presentation by a team of four representatives of the environmental agencies detailed the background of their investigation, where the testing stands to date, what possible future outcomes of the process may be, and answered questions well after the 9 p.m. expected close of the meeting. Comments from the public regarding the situation were about evenly mixed among those supporting Wolverine in their actions in removing the former tannery and those who appeared skeptical of the company’s actions or worried about contamination. Dave Novak, community involvement coordinator of the Superfund Division of the EPA, began the evening’s presentation, introducing the other representatives. “We are looking for conclusions based on good science, not speculation,” he stated. “We have a great deal of information in a relatively short period of time. We are letting good science lead us on our journey.” He then gave the floor to Naria Nunez of the EPA. Nunez said the EPA was contacted by a citizens’ petition June 21, 2011 describing concerns over releases during the demolition of the former tannery at 123 N. Main Street, Rockford. She said the petition indicated the demolition was of community concern and included photographs of discolored water running off the property and questions about the past use of chromium at the property. The EPA decided to investigate the site, and began testing in October of last year. Nunez said preliminary testing results found some contamination with potential of offsite contact. The investigation is still underway and is in the preliminary stages. At any time the EPA could decide no further response is necessary; could call for removal of contaminates or could refer the investigation to another government program. The EPA could also continue to investigate and at the end of the process could rank the site based on a system called a Hazardous Ranking System. This is an evaluation of the property based on evaluations of groundwater, surface water, air, ground, or […]
The Rogue River Watershed Council held its annual meeting at Rockford’s Community Cabin in early 2010, continuing its efforts to protect the watershed and goals to improve educational opportunities for the public and municipalities along the watershed’s domain. Janice Thompkins of the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources and member of the Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC) gave an overview of what the watershed is to the members of the public who turned out for the meeting. “When the well is dry, we know the value of water,” she quoted Benjamin Franklin on the importance of protecting our water sources and waterways. “It is so true we too often wait to late to protect our wetlands,” she said, calling wetlands the kidneys of any watershed. She discussed specifically Stegman and Cedar Creek, which provide much of the cold water that makes Rogue River the unique body of water it is and stressed the importance of protecting these feeder streams, and others like them. “They are interrelated, interdependent and interconnected,” she said. During the meeting, the RRWC members asked the audience to provide feedback on issues within the Rogue River Watershed and answered questions. The RRWC has been in existence for several years and is interested in growing membership as well as offering educational opportunities on watershed and wetlands issues. They meet monthly in Rockford. For more information, visit online at www.gvsu.edu/wri/isc/rogue-river-watershed-project-the-rogue-river-watershed-council-186.htm.
by KIM SAPKOWSKI Rogue River Watershed Council One of Michigan’s greatest resources is its abundance and high quality of water. Wetlands play a key role in this vital natural resource. Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. Wetlands control flooding by absorbing rain and snow melt, (thus they have earned the nickname “nature’s kidneys”), they filter and control fluctuating levels of ground water, they filter sediment and pollution from stormwater run off and they provide recreational opportunities for fishing and hunting. Wetlands are also key habitat to fish, insects, amphibians and birds, like the bald eagle and American bittern. Many animals like the gray wolf, white tailed deer and otters rely on wetlands for food and a place to rest. Many plants that are unique to wetlands are essential for habitat survival. Governor Granholm has urged the State legislature to hand over regulation of Michigan’s wetlands to the EPA in order to cut spending on what she terms as “duplication of services.” Others want to do away with Michigan’s wetlands permitting process in order to remove roadblocks for business expansion. On the surface this seems like a good idea. Why have a state program in place that does exactly what the EPA already does? On closer inspection, it becomes clear that the EPA wetlands regulations are not the same as Michigan’s. Here’s why: Currently, Michigan law regulates the permitting of wetlands that are five acres or more and/or are contiguous to a body of water. That body of water could be a lake, a stream or a seasonal stream. The EPA, however, only permits wetlands that are adjacent to navigable waters. That leaves thousands of acres of “stand alone” wetlands, those that are not adjacent to navigable water, unprotected. Anyone could fill in and dig up wetlands without a permit. So, what’s the big deal? It’s their property so who cares? Well, the big deal is that by filling in a wetland, we are shutting down a crucial part of nature’s function. When we fill wetlands, we jeopardize our health and economic well being. Loss of wetlands means poor water quality, flooding and the property damage that goes along with it. Loss of wetlands means […]
By KIM SAPKOWSKI Secretary of the Rogue River Watershed Council The current economic environment is, to say the least, unpredictable. One thing is constant, however – nature. The changing seasons, day and night, and flowing rivers are unwavering. Knowing this keeps us grounded in an ever changing economic environment. The Rogue River provides its communities many economic benefits. Data provided by West Michigan Trout Unlimited and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality shows that in 2004, 17,239 angling trips were made to the river and fisherman spent an average of $35 per fishing trip to the Rogue River Watershed. That’s a yearly total of $603,365. What would we do if an area business failed and left the local economy with a $603,365 void? The Rogue River has been a source of food, water, and transportation for humans and animals for thousands of years. The river and its surrounding watershed were formed by glaciers around 12,000 years ago. Today the Rogue River has the distinction of being one of Michigan’s southern-most trout streams. It is known throughout the state and mid-west for being a clean trout stream located within 15 minutes of an urban center. Here it is quite possible to toss fishing gear into the car, dash out of work at 5:00 and have a line in the water by 5:30. When we protect and preserve the Rogue River, we generate income for our local economy by providing a clean and healthy river. Bait shops, canoe liveries, gas stations, and restaurants, just to name a few, benefit from people using the Rogue River. The social benefits are harder to measure yet just as valuable, and intermingle with the economic benefits. A stroll on the boardwalk along the river in Rockford, spying deer at the Rogue’s banks while canoeing in the quiet of early morning, kids splashing and catching minnows in the river on a bright summer day or steam rising from the ice-crusted river on a zero degree morning; these are only a few of the social benefits the Rogue River provides. Protecting and preserving the river doesn’t necessarily mean pumping money into initiatives. Rather it can mean doing something as obvious as not littering. Or, if you own property along the river, choosing to […]