The Grand River, at 262 miles, is the longest river in Michigan and its watershed is the second largest at 5,572 square miles. It is the most populated watershed in the state with more than 1.5 million people living within its boundaries, and thousands more visit and use the Grand River every year.
Following the 1990 Grand River Expedition, organized protection efforts began to take off, starting with formation of the Upper Grand River Watershed Alliance. The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW) represents the Grand River from Lyons downstream to Lake Michigan, including the entire watersheds of the Thornapple, Flat and Rogue rivers. LGROW is attached to the Grand Valley Metro Council and implements watershed initiatives and prioritizes water quality concerns.
The Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds (MGROW) formed in 2011 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Middle Grand is defined as the Grand River from Eaton Rapids to Lyons, and includes the entire watersheds of the Maple, Looking Glass and Red Cedar rivers.
Goals and objectives of all three groups are very similar, and include:
- Protecting and enhancing watershed values, including water quality
- Providing public education about the historic, ecologic, recreational and economic values of the river and its communities
- Developing individual and collective stewardship for watershed values
- Promoting recreational use and enhancement of public facilities, information and safety
- Coordinating with sub-watershed groups
In 2016 the three watershed groups agreed to form and maintain the Grand River Watershed Partnership. A general outline of the partnership is as follows:
- Leadership of the Partnership will be shared on a biennial rotating basis
- The partnership will strive to conduct a watershed-wide public forum every two years – hosting will be on a rotating basis
- The member groups will work with other partners to coordinate planning and implementation for a headwaters to Lake Michigan Grand River Water Trail, including issues common to all such as signage, education, safety, publicity, etc. as appropriate
- Members will share information on common issues and opportunities, including funding
- LGROW will investigate the feasibility of a watershed data collection and management system
- MGROW will organize and conduct future educational expeditions on the Grand River in 2020 and on tributary streams as appropriate
- MGROW will develop and maintain a Grand River Partnership Facebook ® page, to share information on educational resources and programs, action alerts, upcoming activities, grant opportunities, recent research, etc.
The three member groups will incur no additional financial duty for the tasks described above, except as agreed to by unanimous commitment by all parties to this agreement.