NewsLocal NewsGrand Rapids


Grand Rapids nonprofit provides update on Grand River restoration

Screen Shot 2022-04-22 at 8.54.41 PM.png
Posted at 8:55 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-23 09:49:34-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Many around West Michigan are doing what they can to celebrate Earth Day. Some even took the time to pick up trash by the Grand River. This work is only a portion of the efforts to make the river healthier.

The Grand River is one of West Michigan's most important natural resources.

"We have to protect these resources. We have to do what we can to clean them up and maintain them," Grand Rapids WhiteWater Chief Program Manager Matt Chapman told FOX 17.

The river, which starts south of Jackson and spills out into Lake Michigan in Grand Haven, played a pivotal role in putting Grand Rapids on the map.

"The dams were actually built to raise the water level to kind of drown out those rapids so that they could float and transport those logs down to the furniture factory," he added.

As the industrial revolution boomed, so did the amount of waste in the river.

"We no longer have companies that are dumping pollution or pollutants into the river, like we once did," Chapman said.

Chapman's mission and his nonprofit are making the Grand River cleaner.

READ MORE: What Grand Rapids Whitewater and GR Paddling do to preserve the Grand River

"The Grand River is rich with many different species of fish and mussels, far more than a lot of people imagine," he said.

He says the city and federal regulations made their vision of restoring the Grand River possible.

"It's actually getting better and better and more healthier than that has been historically. A lot of that is that credit goes to actually the city of Grand Rapids for their work and separating the stamp and the stormwater from the sanitary sewer system," Chapman said.

Grand Rapids WhiteWater is inching closer to its vision, making the river a premier recreational spot.

"So more people could be getting into the river and accessing the river," Chapman said. "And hopefully it will be known for, once again, the rapids that used to be here. And that's a big part of that drive is to restore as much of this natural sense of a river as we can."

Chapman says he believes when their project of restoring the rapids is done, it will be an economic driver in the area.

The nonprofit and Grand Rapids are currently looking for a management team to start the massive project this year.

Correction: An earlier version indicated the river starts in Grand Haven. It ends there by spilling into Lake Michigan. FOX 17 regrets the error.

Follow FOX 17: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - YouTube