16th Annual Grand River Spring Forum
LGROW hosted its 16th Annual Grand River Spring Forum in the Blandford Nature Visitor Center, Friday May 17th. The event had a record-setting 150 attendees and attracted many great sponsors. During the morning portion of the Forum, attendees were welcomed by GVMC Director, John Weiss, Blandford Nature Center Land Stewardship Manager, Julie Batty, and the Chair of the LGROW Board, Carrie Rivette. LGROW Committee Chairs gave brief updates on their committee accomplishments, goals, and work being done. Learn more about LGROW Committees here. Don Carpenter, PhD, PE, LEED AP, the keynote speaker, presented his findings with the presentation, ‘Determining Strategies for Removing Barriers to Green Infrastructure Implementation.’ You can view this presentation below.
While the adults were enjoying LGROW updates and the Keynote presentation, student groups from five local schools presented their own projects to each other in the Star Schoolhouse. During the break, the students brought their posters to the Visitor Center for the Forum attendees to view and ask questions about their projects. You can view the posters in the photo gallery below.
Finally, the ‘Shed Talks featured multiple presentations celebrating LGROW projects and partnerships. These presentations can be found below. The ‘Grand River Rainscaping Program & Workforce Development,’ presented by Revery Landscape Architect, Rebecca Marquardt (presentation not available) and Al Pennington from Moore & Bruggink, gave an overview of the National Green Infrastructure Certification Course which piloted this past winter at Grand Rapids Community College. Learn more about the Rainscaping Program here. Matt Chapman, Grand Rapids Whitewater, and Reverend Nurya Love Parish of Plainsong Farms, presented on the Lower Grand River Habitat Restoration & Farmland Conservation Project. Learn more about this project here and here. Nichol DeMol of Trout Unlimited and Paco Ollervides from River Network gave a presentation on ‘Community Engagement in Restoration’ which highlighted partnerships in the watershed and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and future goals. The final ‘Shed Talk was the unveiling of the Grand River Adopt-a-Drain program by LGROW’s Stormwater Coordinator, Cara Decker, and James Wilfong of Citizen Labs, who have been working on the program. This program is an extension of the existing City of Grand Rapids Basin Buddy Program, where citizens ‘adopt’ a storm drain and promise to keep it clear of trash and debris.
After lunch was served, attendees were invited to attend one of two walking tours. The Highlands tour, led by the Land Conservancy, explored the site of the Highlands Restoration Project. The former Highlands Golf Course has begun to return to its natural state and will soon have a daylighted stream running through it, which is currently piped underground. The second walking tour featured a bioswale demonstration site, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 5 Star and Urban Waters Grant, located adjacent to Blandford Nature Center’s trail along Milo Street. The bioswale slows, filters, and captures stormwater runoff from the street before it enters the Brandywine Creek, a tributary to Indian Mill Creek.
Many thanks to all of the attendees and sponsors of this years Spring Forum! Be sure to register next year for the 17th Annual Grand River Spring Forum, date and location TBD.