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News Releases from Region 05

EPA announces $4.2 million for habitat restoration work at Rouge River Area of Concern

Contact Information: 
Allison Lippert (

DETROIT (July 28, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant of $4,222,090 to the Alliance of Rouge Communities (ARC) to implement restoration projects at five parks in the Rouge River watershed in Wayne County, Michigan. The Rouge River has been identified as an Area of Concern (AOC), one of 27 remaining US areas in the Great Lakes basin identified as experiencing severe environmental degradation. 

This grant is the latest in a series of recent announcements across the Great Lakes region that highlight this Administration’s commitment to the health and preservation of this globally significant freshwater resource. In July, the Administration has announced more than $30 million in grants and projects in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, including a $4.8 million grant to Michigan EGLE to support watershed protection projects across the state.

“Thanks to GLRI funding, we can expect to see decreased flooding and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat in the Rouge River watershed,” said Regional Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. “Each of these projects will have a significant impact on the restoration of the Rouge River AOC, and continue toward the ultimate goal of delisting the AOC.”

“The ARC was initiated to provide an institutional mechanism to encourage watershed-wide cooperation and to support efforts in restoring beneficial uses of the Rouge River to the region’s residents,” said Alliance of Rouge Communities Chairperson Doug Moore. “This grant will be the ARC’s fifth EPA GLRI grant in the last 3 years aimed at habitat restoration in the watershed. Without the availability of public lands from our member organizations, like Wayne County, and without EPA providing the grant funding, the ARC would not be able to make this type of impact. Therefore, we are extremely grateful to EPA and Region 5 Administrator Thiede in their continued support of our activities.”

“I am overjoyed for Wayne County to have received the GLRI grant which will lead to the restoration and creation of over 120 acres of habitat across five parks within our park system” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “The habitat will assist with eliminating degradation and debris jams and make our parks a conducive environment for its natural inhabitants.”

The ARC will use GLRI funding for habitat restoration on the Lower Rouge River and wetland restoration in the Wayne County park system at Riverview Park, Sherwood Park, Bell Creek Park and Lola Valley Park. These projects will help control invasive species, eliminate 10 debris jams which cause potential fish blockages and habitat degradation, create 10 fish habitat structures, and result in a total of 122 acres of restored habitat in the Rouge River AOC. The ARC is also working on wetland restoration projects at Colonial Park and Venoy Park under a previously announced GLRI grant.

 The Rouge River watershed contains the oldest and most heavily populated and industrialized area in southeast Michigan. As a result, the river’s sediment and water have been contaminated by industrial discharges and combined and sanitary sewer overflows. Increased urbanization over the last century has resulted in declining water quality and exacerbated flood conditions. To date, over $80 million has been directed towards projects in the AOC. These investments help address the legacy contaminates and also help bring about further economic revitalization to the area.  

These projects are part of the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the GLRI. In October 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the GLRI Action Plan III, an aggressive plan that will guide Great Lakes restoration and protection activities by EPA and its many partners over the next 5 years.

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