MUSKEGON — Researchers at Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute have been awarded a grant for about $85,000 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to help restore portions of the Muskegon River watershed.

The grant, given to AWRI as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, will allow AWRI researchers to create stewardship plans for sensitive areas included in a larger watershed restoration effort.

The larger two-year project will:
* Reforest more than 400 acres of riverbank land;
* Restore 150 acres of streambank using native vegetation;
* Put 150 acres of revegetated land into conservation easements;
* Develop 14 forest stewardship plans; and
* Implement proper erosion control in high-priority sites.

The project is expected to prevent 100 tons of sediment, 1,000 pounds of phosphorus, and 6,000 pounds of nitrogen from reaching the Muskegon River, Muskegon Lake Area of Concern, and Lake Michigan each year.

AWRI is responsible for the development of the 14 forest stewardship plans. John Koches, associate research scientist at AWRI will be the principal investigator on the project and will be assisted by research associate Rod Denning and technical call-in Betty Gajewski.

The team from AWRI will work with individual property owners who already have established forests on their lands and are interested in managing these forests to maintain or enhance lumber production, wildlife habitats and ecosystem services. The goal is to help landowners get the most out of their property while ensuring the continued integrity of the areas for the protection of the Muskegon River Watershed.

AWRI will also assist the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly in the overall evaluation of the project, making sure that the reduction estimates for the sediment and chemicals are accurate, and that the intended goals are achieved.

The total budget of the project is more than $939,000, with a federal share of more than $798,000.

For more information, contact John Koches, (616) 331-3792, or visit


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