Volunteers participate in a past bug hunt. An analysis shows that there has been an improvement in the Middle Branch of the Rouge River, which starts near Seven Mile Road and Hines Drive in Hines Park.

Volunteers participate in a past bug hunt. An analysis shows that there has been an improvement in the Middle Branch of the Rouge River, which starts near Seven Mile Road and Hines Drive in Hines Park.

Photo provided by the Friends of the Rouge


Fundraiser to raise a toast to the Rouge

By: Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published April 9, 2018

METRO DETROIT — Raise your glass if you support the Rouge River.

The Raise One for the Rouge fundraiser will be held 5-7 p.m. April 21 at Schoolcraft College, 18600 Haggerty Road in Livonia, to support Friends of the Rouge endeavors.

The event will feature Schoolcraft College’s new American Harvest Brewpub for a beer tasting and brewery tour after the recent creation of a brewing and distillation technology program; the products of the program will be featured, according to a press release.

Sally Petrella, volunteer monitoring program manager for the FOTR, said that the group has partnered with Schoolcraft College since 2004.

“They host our Fall Bug Hunt, so they promote it with their students and let us use their facility,” Petrella said, adding that in recent years, the college has provided refreshments and more for volunteers.

She said that Schoolcraft College professor Diane O’Connell thought it would be a good idea for the fundraiser event to feature the beer tasting and brewery tour.

“They agreed to do a fundraiser for us,” Petrella said. “The students will be giving us a tour of the brewery, and tickets include beer tasting and appetizers.”

Tickets for the event cost $35 in advance for FOTR members and $40 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at therouge.org/raise-one-for-the-rouge.

“We really hope people might come out ... to help support our  program — it will be a nice event,” Petrella said.

Other events on tap include the Rouge Rescue 2018 on May 19. The event will feature a cleanup of the Rouge River across the region. For more information, go to www.therouge.org/rouge-rescue or call (313) 792-9621. Volunteers should wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes; long sleeves; and long pants for work that will likely involve getting dirty, according to a press release. A free T-shirt will be provided to those who participate, but there is a limited quantity.

The Spring Bug Hunt will be held this month — registration for that event is closed — and the Fall Bug Hunt will be held 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 13.

Petrella said that the FOTR has held the Fall Bug Hunt since 2004. Volunteers meet at Schoolcraft, where teams are assigned to go to sampling sites along the watershed.

“We usually have anywhere from 24 to 34 different sites,” she said, adding that in the Farmington area, sample sites are generally located in Shiawassee Park in Farmington, and in Heritage Park in Farmington Hills.

“We also sample Seeley Creek in Commerce Township, and that runs through the western side of Farmington Hills,” she said.

The teams count and identify bugs and rate sites as poor, fair, good or excellent based on the types and numbers of bugs found.

Petrella said that since doing the bug hunts, an analysis shows that there has been an improvement in the Middle Branch of the Rouge River, which starts near Seven Mile Road and Hines Drive in Hines Park.

“But we are seeing some decline in the Upper Branch, which goes through Farmington and Farmington Hills,” she said.

The main branch starts up in Rochester Hills and flows through Troy, Birmingham and Southfield.

Data from the bug hunts is shared with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and local units of government.

“Sites are sampled multiple times to get some trends,” Petrella said, adding that the data, over time, lets the FOTR see if things are getting better or worse or are staying the same — and whether pollution is a problem in the river.

She added that this work is vital because the bug populations can suffer.

“They can’t just up and leave if something happens. … That is one of the reasons we’re out looking for them on a regular basis,” she said. “Snails and those types of things we’re looking for — their life cycles are within a few hundred yards. They’re not very mobile.”

FOTR volunteer Susan Thompson added that weeds, debris, silt and other factors can also impact a bug’s quality of life.

“(There are) a lot of factors that impact on what is present on the stream,” Thompson said. “We have a healthy stream and notice all of a sudden the site is changing. That gives us an idea of what is going on here.”

For more information, go to therouge.org/bug-hunts. To register to participate, go to therouge.org/bug-hunt-events-and-trainings.