Newsroom Midwest Region

Service part of team in the running for Service to America Medal

September 13, 2017

Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo courtesy of D. O'Keefe/Michigan Sea Grant.
Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo courtesy of D. O'Keefe/Michigan Sea Grant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-led Urban Waters Federal Partnership program is in the final four to win the prestigious Service to America Award presented by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. After the public cast more than 35,000 votes, the Urban Waters Team rose to the top out of a crowded pool of 430 nominees. The group’s focus is on the creation of public-private partnerships to clean up and bring new vitality to neglected urban waterways and adjacent lands.  

The interdepartmental Urban Waters Federal Partnership is comprised of 14 federal agencies. Four Department of Interior bureaus are involved in the team, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Department of Interior has 19 Urban Waters sites, one of which is the Grand River in Michigan. The Midwest Region team is spearheaded by the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and the East Lansing Ecological Services Field Office. Together, they are working with partners to address an array of issues that has led to the decay of the Grand River.

In the stretch of the Grand River that runs through Grand Rapids the combination of low head dams, floodwalls, dredging and grading, and the intrusion of urban growth has resulted in a deteriorated environment for native fish and the creation of safety hazards for recreational users of the waterway. Starting with a reduction in pollution and a public and private commitment to economic development oriented around the river, the Grand River Urban Waters project is well on its way to making it a safer and more accessible river for people and wildlife alike. In addition to creating enhanced recreational opportunities for anglers, rowers, paddlers and whitewater enthusiasts, restoration work also improves the environment for state threatened lake sturgeon and native mussels.

Please join us in congratulating our Midwest and Department of Interior colleagues in their historic accomplishment! If you want to join in on the excitement, you can vote once a day, every day, until voting concludes on September 15, 2017.