Rogue River

Easement legacy a permanent protection for Rogue River

December 16, 2010 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA One family’s dedication to protecting the land and their generous spirit is good news for all in Rockford. 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. 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. […]

Holiday season begins with music, lights, words of peace

November 24, 2010 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA  Hundreds of people waited on the banks of the Rogue River to hear the Rockford High School brass ensemble and choir and words of peace from local leaders as the City of Rockford officially began the holiday season the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 17. The City/Chamber of Commerce event began with an introduction by Chamber Executive Director Brenda Davis, who said the event was the sixth annual. It appeared from the number of participants that this may well be the most well-attended lighting ceremony to date. Outgoing State Representative Tom Pearce spoke about his experiences as a young man on a Souix Indian reservation and then urged the crowd, “If there is someone you are not getting along with, make a truce with them.” He urged the crowd to “make sure this holiday season you are wrapped up in other people, not wrapped up in things that don’t matter.” Mayor Steve Jazwiec shared his inspiration for the holidays, the true story of WWI foes who, for a few hours on Christmas eve, made a truce themselves and stopped fighting to share a time of peace in honor of the holy day. Senator Mark Jansen urged people to start at home in bringing peace to the world and complimented the town for being good stewards of the assets Rockford is blessed to enjoy—our students who stood by to sing and play in honor of the holiday, the beautiful downtown and the river and trail which brings so much to the community. The words of peace were followed by the music of the brass ensemble and choir—hauntingly beautiful and the most moving portion of the ceremony—and the dimming of the lights until the countdown to the town’s holiday lights coming on for the season. The evening ceremony ended with a playful rendition—repeated a few times for fun and to the delight of youngsters and adults—of the “reindeer song” with participation of the crowd encouraged. After the lighting ceremony, a lively downtown night of shopping was held, with promotions, treats and giveaways in the stores and shops. The downtown Rockford Holiday Open Houses is an annual event that lasts two evenings. However, many holiday specials can be found throughout downtown right on through the season, […]

Rogue chosen among nation for restoration

November 4, 2010 // 0 Comments

Fish ladder may be in Rockford’s future by Beth Altena  “If you have a business in Rockford, this will make a difference to your business,” said Glenn Blackwood of Great Lakes Fly Fishing, a Rockford business. Blackwood spoke before Rockford Rotary, telling members that the Rogue River has been selected as one of only twelve rivers across the United States for a multi-year restoration project organized by Trout Unlimited (TU). Blackwood spoke in terms of business for Rotary, but might well have said if you live in Rockford, this will affect you positively. Selection process began over two years ago when TU researchers considered three Michigan rivers for restoration and protection. Because of strong support in the area by environmental groups, donations by local business and non-profit partners and the extreme value of the Rogue as a fishery, the Rogue was chosen over the Rifle and Pigeon/Black rivers. The project is a far-reaching effort that will encompass the entire Rogue River watershed from its beginning in the former Rice Lake headlands in Newaygo County on through the waterway to its influx into the Grand River. Efforts will include working with cities and municipalities along the way to the very riverbed under the Rogue’s cold waters, said Nicol De Mol, who has been hired by Trout Unlimited to head the project for the Rogue. “As a major cold water tributary to the Grand River and its close proximity to a large population center, the Rogue River is an extremely important resource in southern Michigan,” said De Mol. “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 brook, brown and rainbow trout fisheries. The scenic and fishery values of the Rogue have resulted in more than 90 miles the main stem and tributaries being granted “Natural Rivers” status under Michigan’s Natural Rivers Act.” Blackwood noted that, although the river is famous as a fishery, it has nonetheless gained 7 to 8 degrees in temperatures from earlier years. A restoration of a river in “pretty good shape but with significant room for improvement” will result in more fish, bigger fish and […]

Rogue River ‘cash cow’ fed with fingerlings

May 6, 2010 // 0 Comments

River replenished with DNRE spring trout release With state funding drying up for many public programs, those who live in the Rogue River watershed can be grateful that trout-stocking monies comes mostly from the federal government. Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Energy (DNRE) staff have been busy at work in and around Rockford, replenishing the Rogue’s supply of game fish. Just after the spring trout opener, Joe Michevich, DNR Fisheries technician, put in over 17,000 Gilchrist Creek brown trout, nearly 10,000 Eagle Lake rainbow trout and have plans to put in another 7,300 in the weeks ahead. “We have a federal three-to-one match,” said Jon Jackoviak of the Harrietta Fisheries Station in Harietta, Mich. For every dollar the DNRE spends on fish-stocking, three more come from federal funds. Jackoviak said the browns and rainbows planted in Rockford are about 16 months old. The rainbows, a well-established stocking fish, are five to seven inches long when planted and may grow to their legal limit this season. The Gilchrist trout are a little smaller, around five inches, and will likely be large enough to be taken legally next year. The Gilchrist trout are a wilder strain and do better in streams than in hatcheries. Jackoviak said his facility, the oldest in the state and built in 1901, received their brood stock in 1996. The state has been stocking fish since the 1890s and brought in German brown trout, a fish that was not found in United States streams until then. Annually the Harrietta Hatchery provides 1.3 million trout to streams and rivers in the southern half of the lower peninsula. The Rogue River, like many of the tributaries to the Grand River, flows with cold, clear water from many springs and is good habitat for trout. Heavily fished, the Rogue benefits from stocking by replacing fish that anglers take and helping the population in cases where reproduction suffers for any variety of reasons. Jackoviak said field biologists survey streams to determine how many fish to plant in any given river or stream, but figures do not vary much year to year. The number of fish stocked also depends on how many eggs the hatchery acquires from their sources. Estimated survival of the young trout is also […]

Fish to dance for joy in Rogue River

April 22, 2010 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL One of the most popular entrants in last year’s 2009 ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids was “Nessie,” who finished in sixth place in the inaugural event. Kids, in particular, loved “Nessie” as she regally floated in the Grand River while tethered to the Blue Pedestrian Bridge in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Rockford believes they can do Grand Rapids one better. Rockford City Manager Michael Young announced at the April City Council meeting that “Water Dance” had been completed by its creators and is almost ready to be installed above the water and in front of the concrete wall between the two wings of Rockford’s iconic Rogue River Dam. This could only happen in the biggest little city in Michigan! Readers may remember the Squire’s exclusive front-page coverage of “Water Dance” in the Dec. 3, 2009 edition (visit to read the entire story). The imaginative and genius mind of Steve Anderson of Anderson’s Metal Sculpture in the CedarRock area was then in the midst of creating a stunning and breathtaking stainless steel sculpture of three leaping fish—not just any fish, but three fish synonymous with the Rogue River: a brown trout, a steelhead, and a rainbow trout. Anderson’s Metal Sculpture had been commissioned by the City of Rockford to create “Water Dance.” Costs associated, less labor, were underwritten by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the Rockford Area Arts Commission. For his part, Anderson was gifting labor costs to the City he and his family have come to love. Last week we paid a return visit to Anderson’s studio, tucked away in the woods between Rockford and Cedar Springs, for an exclusive look at what for Anderson was a work of love. It is both beautiful and stunning and, when placed in front of the dam in the Rogue River, will encompass an area 25 feet wide by 9 feet high. The fish, of the three-dimensional sculpture, are awesomely grand in size. Coincidentally, “Nessie” was recently reported to be lurking in the waters of Rockford’s Rum Creek millpond. But those rumors turned out to be a great April Fools joke. “Nessie,” in reality, is currently suffering a slow deterioration in a temporary home on the waters of the […]

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