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News Releases from Region 05

EPA announces over $1.8 million for habitat restoration work at Rouge River Area of Concern

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Allison Lippert (

DETROIT (May 19, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant of $1,834,555 to the Alliance of Rouge Communities (ARC) for habitat restoration projects at Colonial Park and Venoy Dorsey Park along the Lower Rouge River in Wayne County, Michigan. The Rouge River has been identified as an Area of Concern (AOC), one of 43 areas experiencing severe environmental degradation identified by the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes basin.

“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. “These projects will have a significant impact on the restoration of the Rouge River AOC.”

ARC will use GLRI funding to create and restore wetlands at Colonial Park and Venoy Dorsey Park in the highly urbanized Rouge River watershed. Both parks are used for recreation but are prone to frequent flooding. The new and enhanced wetlands will help manage floodwater and provide more habitat for fish and wildlife. Invasive plant species will also be treated and native species will be planted. Overall, the projects are expected to provide six acres of new wetlands, three acres of improved wetland habitat, five acres of native tree plantings and a half acre of new native meadow habitat.

“The ARC is excited to receive this GLRI grant from EPA to restore wetlands within the Wayne County Parks System at Colonial and Venoy Parks,” said Brandy Siedlaczek of the Alliance of Rouge Communities. “This project further expands and continues our partnership with EPA on restoring habitat in the Rouge River Watershed. The ARC also looks forward to working with Wayne County, an ARC member organization, on continuing their stewardship efforts.”

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.

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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