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Grand River Research


July 8, 2020


Grand Valley Metro Council

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Restoration of the Grand River.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is thrilled to participate in various scientific research projects along the Grand River with local partners. The future restoration of the Grand River will include restoring the namesake rapids, and activation of sites along the Grand River identified as key locations for public engagement, including the Museum!

The GRPM provides historical, cultural and scientific interpretation to the watershed including how our actions have affected and will continue to affect the future of natural and human systems. To tell the river restoration story, there are data and knowledge gaps that the Museum and our partners are working to fill, including information about the historic and current fish community, how humans interact with the river, and how the restoration actions may change human behavior. 

Fish Community Assessment. 
This annual assessment of fish species will provide a baseline dataset of fish communities in the area of the proposed restoration project. Fish communities are counted through electrofishing surveys. It is a partnership between Grand Valley Metro Council, Grand Valley State University, Encompass Socio-Ecological Consulting and the GRPM.

Lake Sturgeon Juvenile Assessment. 
This research team is working to document young Lake Sturgeon in the Lower Grand River. If found, these fish would indicate successful reproduction and recruitment into the Grand River population.  This research project is led by the Museum in partnership with Encompass Socio-Ecological Consulting, John Ball Zoo and Grand Valley Metro Council.

Macroinvertebrate Assessments. 
Annual macroinvertebrate (aquatic insects) surveys are conducted near the Museum’s Spillman Carousel in the Grand River. This project was completed in partnership with the Grand Rapids White Water Summer Science and Leadership program in 2019. Due to COVID-19, the GRPM is completing the work this summer. The Museum is also contributing to a large data collection effort, spearheaded by Grand Valley Metro council with many partners.

The Citizen Science Project.

The GRPM, Encompass Socio-ecological Consulting LLC, John Ball Zoo and the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds are studying how the Grand River is used by anglers. The research will help document the long-term changes that occur when the city of Grand Rapids begins the river rehabilitation that will add two miles of rapid habitat throughout downtown Grand Rapids, as proposed by Grand Rapids White Water. 

We are excited to participate in this research and help inform the implementation of the restoration project. The research uses a citizen science technique where professionals and the public work together to document the number of people fishing in the downtown reach, how they are fishing and the general locations. 

We want to learn how the restoration opens new opportunities for enjoying the downtown area. We will build a baseline of information that can be used to compare how the river is used after the restoration and how that may change over the years. Scientists will go out daily to count everyone fishing at the river, note their location and method of fishing. This data collection provides an opportunity for the community to participate in scientific research.

Citizen Science Training for Angler Counts will take place on Tuesday, September 8 at 6 p.m. on the Museum’s South lawn, nearest the Blue Bridge. Registration required. To register for Citizen Science training please visit Training will take place outside in small groups. Masks are required and social distancing measures will be in place. 

Anglers in the Grand River
Anglers at 6th street Dam, view from fish ladder park.
Citizen Science Project
Desmond O. helping with Angler counts.
GRPM's Scientists
The GRPM's Scientists, Dr. Redman (Left) and Dr. Ogren (Right)
Rainbow Darter Fish
Rainbow Darter

By: Dr. Stephanie Ogren, the Museum’s VP of Science & Education

Now available! Cameras are installed at five different viewing stations, located on the east and west side of the Grand River, including a location at the Museum! The stations will allow the public (you!) to help record fishing activity and changes to the river during the restoration project.