Taking care of the Grand River; Conservation efforts in West Michigan

Grand Rapids was rated number six of the best cities in the country to live in for people who like to fish, and one of those hidden gems great for fishing is the Grand River.

All spring and summer long many activities involve water, and Ottawa County Parks is working hard in their conservation efforts to make sure the Grand River, and many of Michigan's inland bodies of water, stay clean for generations to come not just for humans, but the surrounding wildlife.

The Grand River is 250 miles long, with thousands of miles of small streams that feed into it. The river is a tremendous resource not only because of the channel, but the tiny streams flowing into the channel keep the river healthy with new wildlife and constant water flow.

50 species occupy the Grand River including the threatened Muscle and many varieties of fish like the Lake Sturgeon. Over 200 species of birds spend time in the watershed, along with 50 species of mammals and 43 species of reptiles and amphibians.

Fishing is really important for conservation because a lot of money used to protect the waterways and to stock fish comes directly from fishing license sales. The DNR's Fish Division is about 60 percent funded by license sales, and the remainder of the money comes from excise taxes on fishing equipment; so fishing is a big economic contributor to Grand River conservation efforts.

The stretch of the river and surrounding land in Ottawa County, purchased by Ottawa County Parks, will also be an incredible service to conservation efforts to take care of the Grand River. By doing so they'll eventually make a  Grand River Greenway with trails for non-motorized recreation, as well as provide a larger habitat for fish and wildlife in the area.

The health of the river overall has improved since 100 years ago, however, the Grand River still faces many dangers of taking a step backward due to proposals. For example, dredging would be a terrible move for environmental protection; 50 acres of shallow fish habitat along 23 miles of the river would not only disturb the wildlife, but it would also destabilize the bottom of the river and lead to erosion, resulting in poor water quality.

To learn more about Ottawa County Parks, visit miottawa.org/parks.

Plus learn more about the Michigan Wildlife Council at hereformioutdoors.org. 

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  • C

    Glad to see the resistance to the proposed changes in the river. Like so many other things that continue to occur in Grand Rapids that are rammed down the public’s throat, the changes would benefit relatively few people while being detrimental to many as well as the wildlife that rely on the river in their daily lives. Residents in the area, especially along the river, need to tell those that would create a boating ‘highway’ between Grand Rapids and Eastmanville to leave the river alone. It’s fine just as it is.

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