Located near the second largest metropolitan area in Michigan, the Rogue River is an extremely important trout fishery in southern Michigan. The lower portion of the river is fabled for its excellent steelhead runs. The eastern tributaries host significant brook and brown trout populations. The river is an important economic engine---based on a recent Department of Natural Resources survey, the Rogue River brings in $485,000 per year to the local communities in angling trips alone. However, the watershed is experiencing pressures from growth and development, resulting in rising summer water temperatures and excessive sediment input. Developed areas impact surface and groundwater resources in the watershed by generating large amounts of pollution from runoff and storm sewer discharge and eliminating porous surface for groundwater recharge. Activities that reduce groundwater or increase the delivery of warm surface runoff will have negative impacts on the Rogue River’s ability to support coldwater species.
The Rogue River Watershed is one of Trout Unlimited’s (TU) Home Rivers Initiatives, which are multi-year collaborative integrated watershed restoration projects. Over the next several years, local foundations, businesses and other donors have contributed funds towards the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. TU staff focus on restoration actions to improve existing river conditions, work with local governments to improve municipal planning, and increase capacity to help ensure advocates for long-term protection of the Rogue.
Protection - Since 2010, TU has helped six local municipalities work towards adoption of new or improved planning policies to promote river protection using the Rogue River Stormwater Guidebook developed by TU and project partners. This guidebook is also being used by other communities outside of the Rogue River watershed to address stormwater runoff in West Michigan. Over the next two years, TU will work three additional municipalities in the watershed using this tool.
Reconnection - We've assessed 200 barriers to fish mobility in the watershed and prioritized them in a larger Lower Grand River fish barrier assessment strategy. Nine fish barriers in the watershed were identified as top priorities and in the next two years TU is actively seeking grant funds for the removal of four of these barriers.
Restoration - Several green infrastructure practices were implemented over the past year including 85 rain barrels, a 3,800 square foot rain garden and 6,000 square feet of stream buffers planted with over 4,000 native plants, and 100 trees planted along the Rogue River. TU has been working with the US Fish and Wildlife through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds to restore a site of agricultural runoff and add instream habitat in Cedar Creek. Over the past year, 1,000 feet of instream habitat was installed. In addition, a 36 acre parcel was enrolled in the Wetland Reserve Program with the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a result of one of the wetland workshops that TU held in the watershed.
Sustainability – Since 2010, we've engaged over 1,000 people in community events where over 25 volunteers have been trained as citizen monitors to collect crucial data in the watershed. TU has been engaging students in analyzing the health of their local waterways using by using leaf packs and stream insects. In addition, TU organized community partners to hold a Rogue River Expedition – a 3 day land tour/paddle of the Rogue in June 2014. This event had over 50 participants from all over the State of Michigan and resulted in $2,400 given to the local TU chapter for restoration work in the Rogue.
Local foundations and other donors have awarded TU $447,128 to carry out these activities and support a second phase of the Rogue River Watershed Home Rivers Initiative (October 2014 – September 2016).
Nichol De Mol