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Rouge Rescue cleanup early this year at Dearborn-area work sites Saturday

The annual Rouge Rescue river cleanup and stewardship event will be taking place earlier this year at several Dearborn-area work sites tomorrow morning.

Friends of the Rouge, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of the Rouge River, announced that they moved their coordination of the 2014 river cleanup to May 17 from its traditional first Saturday in June in order meet deadlines for the grant that funds Rouge Rescue. Rouge Rescue work sites have been scheduled throughout the river system, including Parkland Park, the Ford Field Greenway Trail, Henry Ford Estate, University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford Community College.

“When they changed the date, it threw us off because we just did our Ecorse Creek cleanup two weeks ago,” said Steven Roberts, who is coordinating Parkland's 8:30 a.m.-noon event with Barb Goryca for the Dearborn Heights Watershed Stewards Commission. “We have not advertised it much because we did not have time, but we told Rouge Rescue what we're doing for that day.”

The Commission will focus their volunteers' efforts on 30 trees planted three years ago in the upper part of the park. The volunteers will be fertilizing, mulching and checking the health of the trees; he said; and also do trash cleanup “if we get enough people.”

“We're hoping for better weather than we've had this week, but it doesn't look like it—maybe a sprinkle here or there,” Roberts said.

The Commission is asking volunteers to meet at the park entrance off Ann Arbor Trail, east of Outer Drive. For further information, call (313) 292-1784 or email barbgoryca@hotmail.com or smr24337@yahoo.com.

Karen Marzonie, who is coordinating the work site for Henry Ford Estate (One Fair Lane Drive, adjacent to the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus), said the timing of this weekend is actually perfect for the type of projects volunteers will be doing.

“We'll probably focus on garlic mustard,” Marzonie said. “We might have some volunteers come out who can distinguish between honeysuckle and other shrubs, and if we do we'll work on that as well.

“We will not be by the river back, but in an upland area where we'll help improve the ecology,” she said.

Because the area has had a lot of rain, the volunteers who turn out for the 10 a.m.-noon removal of the invasive plants from wooded areas on the Estate grounds should find it easier this year, Marzonie said, because the plants should “just pop out” when they're pulled out of the wet ground. The job has been difficult in past years, she said, either because it was too early for the plants to show, or so late that plants had grown tough to uproot.

“Now the plants are just tall enough, so mid-May is perfect,” Marzonie said. “We're happy about the date.”

The work site will also be distributing recently-updated copies of a free self-guided walking tour brochures, according to Marzonie; and the event will also overlap with Friday's and Saturday's Henry Ford Estate Garden Volunteers Plant Sale and Garden Market. Volunteers are asked to come to the entrance to the Estate (off Evergreen Road, just north of Michigan Ave.).

Volunteers are asked to bring garden gloves, and wear long plants and closed-toe shoes. For more information, call (313) 701-2240 or email kmarzonie@henryfordestate.org.

The volunteers working at the Ford Field Greenway Trail site from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. will not be working to clean up the river banks, said Thomas Trimble (who is coordinating the site for the Christ Episcopal Church-Dearborn), because of all the rain this past week.

“I was in the park today, and it's just fine, but the river is still running pretty high,” Trimble said. “We'll mostly focus on picking up plastic trash, though we'll not worry about the wood.”

The volunteers will be getting a lot of trash the builds up in the floodplain over the winter, he said, and they'll also be dealing with bigger objects like construction barriers and shopping carts. This litter pickup; along with the invasive plant removal, weeding and park maintenance; will take place along the Ford Field Greenway Trail. The work site will also be passing out information on the Friends of the Rouge, and of its upcoming events.

Volunteers are asked to take Brady Street about 1/2 mile north, and look for the Rouge Rescue banner in Ford Field (located on the west side of Brady Street just south of Cherry Hill Road) for registration. For further information, call (313) 414-6277 or email sgreco@hfcc.edu.

Sam Greco, who is coordinating the Henry Ford Community College work site for HFCC, hopes for better weather tomorrow than the past week. But since a boy scout troop will be turning out at the work site Saturday, he said, “we'll make sure everybody” will not be working by the river, but the projects “we're pretty much doing along the bicycle trail.” The projects to be worked on from 10 a.m. to “around 2 p.m.” include cleaning up litter along the trail, and removing invasive plants like honeysuckle, buckthorn and garlic mustard.

“It's (the invasive plant growth) pretty ramped up, we get a lot out—I can't remember how much we took out last year,” Greco said. “But the volunteers do a tremendous job, and anything we can get out of there is helping.

“It's all in coordination with the Friends of the Rouge,” he said.

The work site will also have some membership information for the Friends of the Rouge for distribution, as well as some educational materials. After the event, the volunteers will get together for a hot dog cook-off.

Volunteers will meet at the Kingfisher Bluff deck, located at the back of the campus at 5101 Evergreen Road in Dearborn. For further information, call (313) 845-9604 or email sgreco@hfcc.edu.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn work site will have volunteers removing invasive garlic mustard from 9 a.m.-noon. The Environmental Interpretive Center is located in the northwest corner of campus at 4901 Evergreen Road in Dearborn, and volunteers should park in the nearby parking structure and
walk to the EIC at the corner of Montieth Boulevard and Fairlane Drive. For further information, call coordinator Sydney Parmeter at (313) 593-5061 or email sydparm@umd.umich.edu or rsimek@umd.umich.edu.

Friends of the Rouge is a local non-profit organization that works to promote the restoration and stewardship of the Rouge River ecosystem through education, citizen involvement and other collaborative efforts, for the purpose of improving the quality of life of the people, plants and animals of the watershed. Sponsors of Rouge Rescue include ITC Holdings, Quicken Loans, Bosch, Waste Management, Marine Pollution Control, Marathon, Severstal, Aisin, ECT, and OHM. Event details are provided on the Friends website at www.therouge.org.