A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It
May 10, 2017 Mary Ellen Geist
Photo courtesy of MEG

Grand Rapids, Michigan Restoration Project Bringing in Results

An investment of 35 million dollars to improve the Grand River is already returning a profit of 15 to 19 million dollars a year to Grand Rapids, said the presenters at one of the panel discussions at River Rally 2017.

The conference was held in Grand Rapids for the first time this year, and paid tribute to the work that’s being done along this Michigan city’s riverfront to bring the river closer to its natural state and welcome kayakers, canoers and other water lovers to enjoy its shores.

Photo courtesy of epa.gov

Engineers from River Restoration survey, courtesy of epa.gov

The  9-year project has involved government groups, non-profits, grants, volunteers and a host of others who simply love the river and want to see the water  bringing people to Grand Rapids who want  to live, work and play along the water  that once had  the  “rapids” that gave the city its name.

Researchers discovered photos from the late 1800’s to figure out what the Grand River once looked like. The dam may have been built as early as 1838 to help lumberjacks move logs to the city that was once the furniture capitol of the world.  Then two highways were built across the river that changed the shore and the way residents used it in dozens of ways.

The latest plans call for the dam to be modified but not to be removed completely due to the threat of invasive species like Sea Lampreys.

Grand Rapids Whitewater’s Matt Chapman and the rest of the presenters took us on a walking tour of the Grand River to see the improvements and talk about what’s to come:

Not everyone loves the idea of the restoration of the dam. Grand Rapids fisherman Chris Vela fears it will change his prospects for catching salmon.

More information about the River Rally Conference at rivernetwork.org


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