Volunteers will be working several sites along the Rouge River in Dearborn Heights and Dearborn tomorrow morning as part of the Friends of the Rouge’s annual event for river restoration:
- The Dearborn Heights Watershed Stewards Commission invites able-bodied volunteers to register between 8:30-9 a.m. at Parkland Park, 6500 Parkland St. (people can also pre-register at (313) 274-3144 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Between 8:30 a.m.-9 a.m. Saturday, people driving on Howard Cassidy Drive entering the park off Ann Arbor Trail (one-half mile east of Outer Drive) will stop at a shelter.
“When you come in the gate at the entrance, our shelter will be straight ahead and all our vehicles will be there, so you can’t miss it,” Dearborn Heights Watershed Stewards Commission Co-Chair Barbara Goryca said. “At 9 a.m., a man will be talking at the shelter.
“We won’t send people right out, we want to hold a teaching session on what garlic mustard looks like, and what we have to do to remove it.”
The garlic mustard is an invasive plant which has to be removed from all over the park, Goryca added, saying the man teaching about the plant shows a picture of a forest in Toronto, “and it’s easy to recognize it in the picture because garlic mustard are white flowers, it chokes out everything else.”
The other half of the main Rouge Rescue project for the park, she said, will involve the annual maintenance of the 25 trees planted in the park by the commission four years ago. Goryca reckons the trees are probably a mix of maple and oak, and that they have “done well” over three or four years of growth, now reaching about 8-10 feet in height and about 3-4 inches in trunk thickness.
“We see what the trees need,” Goryca said. “We always work the soil around the tree so it will accept fertilizer, and then we cover it up with mulch.
“Because the ground is so hard, we have to flip it with shovels,” she said.
Other Rouge Rescue tasks from 9 a.m.-noon that day would be trash pickup, and possible work with storm drain decals. The “No Dumping” decals are stuck over street sewers, to remind people that put into storm drains goes directly to the river.
Volunteers for Parkland Park are advised that clothing they should wear are long-sleeved shirts and long pants, a hat and work gloves, boots or sturdy shoes, sunscreen and bug spray. Coffee and refreshments will be available for participants. These refreshments will be little packs of snacks like chips, Cheetos, cookies and doughnuts, Goryca said, in addition to orange drink and bottled water.
- Another Rouge Rescue site will be active from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Henry Ford College, 5101 Evergreen Road in Dearborn. Volunteers are directed to take Evergreen Road just south of Ford Road, and to meet at the Gateway Trail.
“If you drive through the parking lots to the back, you can’t miss it at the far end of campus,” said Sam Greco, site coordinator on behalf of Henry Ford College. “We’ll be passing out information on Friends of the Rouge, and through generous sponsorship we’ll also be giving away T-shirts and gloves to our volunteers.”
However, Greco warned that the supply of gloves and t-shirts is limited according to “first-come, first-serve.”
The tasks volunteers are to be doing that morning will be cleaning up litter, and pulling out the invasive garlic mustard.
“We’ll want to remove as much buckthorn and honeysuckle as we can,” Greco said. “We’ll have a little hot dog cookout afterward.”
- At the Environmental Interpretative Center, volunteers will be meeting there to prepare to work that site from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. The EIC is located on the northwest corner of the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn,.4901 Evergreen Road (at the corner of Montieth Boulevard and Fairlane Drive); and Rouge Rescue volunteers are advised to drive to the back of campus and park in the parking structure, the second building past the EIC.
The volunteers are to be signed in at 9 a.m., and site coordinator Dana Wloch will have charge of the part of the Rouge Rescue project taking place in the rain gardens, while Rick Simek will have charge of maintaining the trails in the natural area (which runs along the back of the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus). The volunteers will be weeding the gardens, and people may bring some spare potting containers to take home native plants removed from the rain gardens.
“The rain garden garden is pretty big right in front of the Environmental Interpretive Center, and we’ll be planting native plants there,” Wloch said. “We also have a rain garden on side of the center, so volunteers can expect tons of work there.”
Though volunteers as young as 10 years old are welcome, Wloch said younger volunteers will be steered into the rain gardens instead of doing the planned woodchipping and trail trimming, “because much of the work on the trail takes stronger workers.”
In the EIC’s kitchen, water will be available to volunteers, so Wloch advises them to bring water bottles, so they can refill them as many times as they wish. Volunteers will also get a t-shirt, and Wloch will also bring Friends of the Rouge brochures for passing out as well. The May 30 event could be postponed until June 6 at EIC the following weekend, she said, should thunderstorms occur tomorrow morning.
- At the Henry Ford Estate Fair Lane, Rouge Rescue volunteers will be removing garlic mustard and invasive seedlings from wooded areas on the Estate grounds. Volunteers are advised to come in the entrance on Fairlane Drive off Evergreen Road (just north of Michigan Avenue), and meet in the picnic area (follow signs from the Henry Ford Estate parking lot).
Between 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Saturday, site coordinator Karen Marzonie expects around 25-30 volunteers to show up at the Rouge Rescue event, including a group of 16 Girl Scouts and “about 10 or so adults.” Their multiple tasks will also include planting native flowers in gardens.
Volunteers are advised to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, though Marzonie said the latter is not as critical since the Friends of the Rouge donated garden gloves to the Henry Ford Estate site. Marzonie assured volunteers that water will be provided on-site, and she would also be giving away walking maps to volunteers as well.
- Originally, the 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday event at Ford Field Greenway Trail was to involve invasive plant removal, weeding, park maintenance and river clean-up. However, Thomas Trimble, who is the coordinator of the site on behalf of Christ Episcopal Church-Dearborn, said the event this year “is really to clear out the log jams in Ford Field” The rest of the Rouge Rescue project will be picking up trash on the woodchip trail along the river east of Ford Field Park.
Volunteers are directed to take Brady Street about one half mile north of Michigan Ave., where the entrance to Ford Field Park is just south of Cherry Hill Road. For registration, volunteers are to look for the Rouge Rescue banner, where they can pick up t-shirts.
Each spring Friends of the Rouge, in partnership with Rouge communities, brings volunteers together from across the watershed to work toward the common goal of improving the Rouge River. This annual river clean up event, known as Rouge Rescue, began in 1986 with volunteers removing large quantities of trash from the river.
“As river sites improved public perception of the river shifted away from the thought that the river was just an open sewer and a place to dump trash,” according to the organization. “Today much of the event is focused on river restoration and volunteers work to remove invasive plants from the river corridor, install native plantings and stabilize stream banks to improve the health of the river.”
The group reports 56,000 people have participate in Rouge Rescue since it began; removing 47,000 cubic yards of trash, 64 vehicles, 1,800 tires, 510 shopping cars and 245 large household items. The 2015 work sites were scheduled throughout May until the first weekend in June. Those wanting more information regarding Rouge Rescue volunteer opportunities can call Cyndi Ross at (313) 792-9621 or contact email@example.com.