The Alliance of Rouge Communities (ARC) and Wayne County obtained a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Program Grant, with the intent of restoring green space within the Upper, Lower, and Middle Branches of the Rouge River Area of Concern. Under this grant, “Transforming the Rouge from Mowed Down to Grown Up”, Niswander Environmental was contracted by Wayne County in May 2012 to assess existing conditions of 20 selected Wayne County Grow Zone sites totaling approximately 35 acres. These 20 sites were designed to manage floodwaters from the Rouge River and its tributaries as well as stormwater runoff from surrounding areas in the County. Specifically, Niswander Environmental was to assess each Grow Zone for potential restoration activities to be completed as part of this grant. The assessment focused on identifying the presence and extent of invasive species at each site and the recommended treatment for their control. In addition, the restoration efforts were to be prioritized, since only 10 acres of restoration activities were included in the grant.

Individually, each Grow Zone provides wildlife habitat, water quality benefits, visual buffers, and improved air quality. As a whole, these sites are part of the Rouge River riparian corridor and provide active and passive recreational opportunities, flood storage, critical habitat linkages, and connectivity of valuable greenspace.

Niswander Environmental role was to assess of each Grow Zone’s restoration potential, determine the recommended priority of restoration activities, provide a summary of restoration activities completed to date, and identify recommendations for a long-term invasive species management plan. After the long-term management and treatment plan was created, Niswander Environmental began a multiple-year plan implementation that involved a mixture of chemical and mechanical control including prescribed burns.

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