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Your River, Your Story: The Rouge is our river

by Scot Martin

Let’s face it: the Rouge River is not a scenic river and will probably never receive that designation (though we can hold out for hope). 

In fact, part of the river and its encompassing riparian areas are downright ugly. Bare earth in the floodplain that has its ground cover continually drowned or washed away; great patches of common buckthorn and garlic mustard; trash. The Rouge flows under overpasses and by all assortments of commercial spaces (a plethora of ever-enchanting parking lots, for one).

But…for those who have eyes to see–beauty can be found. And perhaps, most importantly–it’s our river. We inhabit this watershed–the Rouge is ours and we are hers.

Thus, if you follow author and farmer Wendell Berry’s dictum: “The first duty of stewardship is to know and respect what is there.” That knowledge can lead to love.

Again, she is no Pine or AuSable River; she doesn’t have the power of say, the Snake River in Wyoming, but still, she is ours.

Ours to cherish and protect. She births dragon and damselflies, redside dace and bluegill, frogs and toads. She provides sustenance for raccoon and red-winged blackbirds, and even recently, beavers.

Sure, she’s plagued by turbidity, flashiness,  and invasive honeysuckle in many runs, but she is ours to restore to glory.

We have helped to bring the Rouge back from a fiery dump at her mouth. (how many cars and shopping carts have been pulled from her bed?) Envision what we can assist in another 50 years.

The Rouge is our river. Our watershed. And we are hers.

Republished with permission from Friends of the Rouge.

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