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Trout Unlimited launching effort to protect Rogue River watershed

Efforts to protect and restore a cold water fishery north of Grand Rapids could serve as an example for the nation.

Fishermen know the Rogue River best for its spring and winter steelhead runs through Rockford. National coldwater conservation group Trout Unlimitedalso wants to protect habitat for the brook and rainbow trout that live there. So it designated the watershed as its newest "home river."

Nicol DeMol is the project manager. She says it's one of only a dozen rivers in the country with the designation. Most of those are out west and deal with damage from mining and agriculture. "What's different about this area is that in this sensitive cold-water area we have lots of development. Realizing that it's close to the second biggest metropolitan area in Michigan, Grand Rapids, you have a lot of people that are moving into that area and so you have lots of development around a really sensitive natural resource," DeMol said. "The Rogue River Watershed is the only one dealing with development and urbanization issues. So it is kind of a key watershed in that Trout Unlimited is looking to develop tools to protect a cold water fishery in an urbanizing area."

Those tools are likely to include river cleanups, wetland restoration and working with local governments to prevent damage.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.