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Posted on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

New initiative will improve recreational opportunities along the Huron River

By Juliana Keeping

A plan for a Huron River renaissance that aims to turn the waterway’s 100-mile path into a premier destination for Michigan residents is moving forward this month.

The effort includes initiatives to incorporate two sites in Washtenaw County that border the river: the vacant MichCon property near Ann Arbor's Amtrak station and a portion of a parking lot at Ypsilanti's former Visteon Plant.

Thumbnail image for huron_river_kayaking_file_art_river_days.jpg

RiverUp! is a new initiative that aims to improve the Huron River and increase its recreational use. file photo

The RiverUp! initiative officially launches Aug. 16, the Huron River Watershed Council announced this week. Its goals are improving access for recreational activities, cleaning up pollution hotspots and focusing the river's host communities on its attributes.

“We have this river we can be proud of and that’s worth protecting, and that makes our communities stronger and better places to live,” said Elizabeth Riggs a watershed planner and project manager for the HRWC’s involvement in RiverUp!.

About $75,000 in seed money for the project stems from private donations from the Wolfpack - a National Wildlife Federation-affiliated group of conservation-minded local leaders - and a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, Riggs said. The League of Conservation Voters is also contributing to the effort, Riggs said.

Fundraising goals and a total project cost hasn't yet been set, Riggs said.

Through 2011, the money will fund an awareness and fundraising campaign, a few specific projects and more planning for the future, Riggs said.

The HRWC kicked off a big piece of the effort in May, announcing plans for a 100-mile river trail to boost river tourism.

The trail will help guide paddlers to river access by improving portages and installing signage to clearly indicate the locations of launches, portages and trouble areas.

Improvements have already begun. Construction is expected to start this summer to improve a portage at Superior Dam near St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Riggs said. The Superior Dam portage project is being paid for with private donations of about $27,000, Riggs said. Its funding is separate from RiverUp! start-up costs.

The water trail is just one piece of RiverUp!

The first year of the effort entails improvements to two locations along the Huron River within the next year: Ann Arbor’s vacant MichCon site, a brownfield that backs the river and is owned by DTE, and Angstrom USA, a precision tubing manufacturer that now owns the former Visteon plant in Ypsilanti.

The groups will help move along efforts to improve the polluted MichCon site.

Angstrom has agreed to help RiverUp! by providing a 100-foot easement along the Huron River. The move will allow RiverUp! to transform a portion of the parking lot that backs up to the Huron River into green space and a section of the Border-to-Border Trail.

The Border-to-Border Trail is a county initiative to create a shared-use path along 35 miles of the Huron River that stretches through Washtenaw County. Riggs said the work will be accomplished through public-private partnerships.

On Aug. 16, RiverUp! will begin with fan event that includes a 1:30 p.m. gathering hosted by Congressman John Dingell, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber at Island Park in Ann Arbor.

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter


Rork Kuick

Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

I hope individual communities can do things to provide better access to the river too. Mostly just parking. Public access around Portage Lake and Lakes above that is famously terrible (residents no doubt want it that way), and we sure could use more parking near the Mast bridge in Dexter, at Zeeb, and at Huron River drive crossing downstream of Delhi, to name a few. Metroparks are jewels, but some of them close too early in summer. DeeDee: ill advised my eye, and so what if it was divisive. Do you expect ANY environmentally geared group to not oppose such dams?


Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

Ah internet comments. VV, sportsman DO care about the environment, as it is a direct part of their experience in enjoying the outdoors. Go figure. That is crazy! How illogical!


Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Is that a picture of RK the environmentalist with a big fish he just killed?


Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

Great to see that the Huron River Watershed Council is doing something to improve recreational opportunities on the Huron, rather than focusing on the divisive and ill advised efforts to take them away from large groups of users by removing the Argo dam. Let's hope that they are sincere in promoting recreation on the river, since their past efforts might make one wonder.


Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

DeeDee, everytime the Huron River Watershed Council comes up in the news doing something positive, you keep giving these rather unfair comments. Perhaps you need to realize that they are interested in more than your single issue.


Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 3 a.m.

I.m sorry, but until it is as pure as the Pere Marquette, or even the Pine, it will be hard to attract people from other places. That being aid, maybe they could have soemthing like the Ausbale River Canoe Marathon, although you would have to associate with downriver for the finish line, not sure the hoity toity around here can bring themselves to that.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

Anything to improve the Huron River area would be great!

Kai Petainen

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

cool stuff!

Kai Petainen

Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 4:43 a.m.

steps could be done to help the river. no doubt about it. we could start by banning the use of phosphoric acid in parking lots. perhaps it is already banned, but if not... then we don't want the fuller structure to be a dumping lot for phosphoric acid cleanup jobs. i sense your sarcasm steve... free speech is totally cool with me, dude.

steve h

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

and can someone please clean the huron and find out who polluted the river with chemicals


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

Improvements to the river. 1. Eliminate the potsmoking drunk tubers on the weekend. 2. remove as many dams as possible 3. concentrate on creating "soft" entries for run-off into the river to allow natural organic processes to absorb nitrates etc.

Linda Peck

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

This sounds wonderful!