A Watershed Moment: Grand Rapids Whitewater

ca. 1910 the Grand River was a popular place for recreation and business. Photo credit: Grand Rapids History

On the January 3 episode we hear from Chip Richards and Chris Muller, co-founders of Grand Rapids Whitewater as they discuss the birth and future goals of the organization.

Grand Rapids Whitewater formed about five years ago with the simple goal of restoring the rapids back to the Grand River. This single goal quickly grew into a project that encompassed the restoration of the entire watershed. This requires removing the dams and replacing them with natural boulders to restore the rapids that once existed. Grand Rapids Whitewater’s goal is to beautify the river, restore natural habitats for fish, and promote recreation in the Grand River.

Grand Rapids Whitewater has the support of most of the local community, including the newly published and highly praised Green Grand Rapids document. Green Grand Rapids lists several possible benefits of restoring the rapids: it creates recreation that would attract both users and spectators, it would be a catalyst for Downtown economic development, improves safety and accessibility for fisherman, and enhances in-stream fish habitats and naturalizes river edges.

Grand Rapids received its namesake from the popularity of the rapids themselves. The rapids disappeared when the dams were built for various purposes many years ago. For the most part, these purposes are now obsolete and the dams currently serve no relevant purpose.

To support Grand Rapids Whitewater, Founders Brewery donates money to Grand Rapids Whitewater with every refill of a Whitewater growler. Visit Grand Rapids Whitewater to learn more about the organization.

Listen to the full interview here.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media  Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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