The Environmental Movement in Grand Rapids: The Grand Rapids Watershed (1993)

This is our first piece on the environmental movement in Grand Rapids. In future articles we will look at what has contributed to ecological destruction since the founding of Grand Rapids, what environmental organizations have existed and what role the larger environmental movement has played in Grand Rapids.


Our first article is a re-print from the Fundamentalist newspaper from 1993 and focuses on the Grand River, or what the local Native community calls Owashtenong.

The article talks about the major contributors to contamination of the Grand River up until 1993. The factors involved then were as follows:137296-downtown-grand-rapids-0580d

  • Trapping of beaver, which allowed natural damns to deteriorate and the ponds to drain
  • Clearcutting of forests, which created tremendous soil erosion and caused heavy sedimentation
  • Introduction of non-native species
  • Sewage
  • Industrial waste, especially heavy metal contaminants
  • Agriculture, which allows farm products (livestock waste and agri-chemicals) to enter the river
  • Urbanization – roads, construction, car pollution, salting of roads, chemicals on lawns, etc

The article based it research on going through data and reports from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) and the Grand Valley State University Water Resources Institute.

The article also suggests the the city enlist the help of Jordan Energy Institute, one of the leading sustainable energy institutes in the country, which unfortunately closed in 1996.

To read the article from 1993, click here

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1 Response to The Environmental Movement in Grand Rapids: The Grand Rapids Watershed (1993)

  1. Pingback: The Grand River: Flooding, Forests and Factories | Grand Rapids People's History Project

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