Mt. Clemens, MI - County Executive Mark A. Hackel hosted the first-ever “The River Runs Wild” event on the Clinton River, an 8-mile kayaking excursion which began at Heritage Park in Utica and ended at Rotary Park in Sterling Heights on Wednesday August 21, 2019.
More than 50 guests took part in the event, which highlighted restoration efforts on the waterway.
“Thanks to grant funds, the efforts of many local organizations and the Blue Economy Program, the river has transformed from one that had very high levels of pollution and blockages to one that is beautiful and increasingly restored,” said Hackel. “It is a now a destination for our community and an area accessible for recreation.”
Prior to launching the kayaks for the event, Hackel emphasized that the Clinton River is now clean, clear and connected by sharing the following details:
- In the 1970s, a fish survey identified no substantial fish resources in the Clinton River.
- In 1972, the river was identified as an Area of Concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. This led to the creation of the Clinton River Remedial Action Plan, which directed elimination of combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows, storm water runoff, superfund waste sites and contaminated sediments. It also put plans in place for spill notification, habitat restoration and elimination of illicit connections and failing septic systems.
- Clinton Township, Fraser, Warren and Mount Clemens have since made substantial improvements to sanitary sewer systems that will reduce or eliminate sewage discharges. Additional work began in 2011, when Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding became available for watershed cleanup and restoration. To date, $30 million has been spent on related projects.
- A 2008 assessment of the Clinton River stated that the waterway would never be a valuable recreational resource. This was due to large amounts of debris, garbage and log jams. In fact, in 2010, more than 100 large log jams were identified along the river.
- Since 2014, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding totaling more than $14 million has enabled 8 projects around habitat and water quality improvements. This includes the removal of 30 log jams and the restoration of riverbanks in the Utica and Sterling Heights section of the river during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
- The cleanup and ongoing efforts to keep the river clear opened the waterway for recreation. The Clinton is now a paddling destination – with both challenging and family-friendly routes along the 32-miles of waterway in Macomb County.
- The Clinton River was once inaccessible for residents and visitors interested in kayaking and canoeing. There are now nine access points connecting six communities, including Ryan Road in Shelby Township, downtown Utica, Heritage Park in Utica, North Clinton River Park in Sterling Heights, Rotary Park in Sterling Heights, Budd Park in Clinton Township, Shadyside Park in Mount Clemens, MacArthur Park in Mount Clemens and Harley Ensign in Harrison Township.
- Four of these points are universally accessible - launches designed to be used independently by people of all ages and all abilities. Notably, $500,000 has so far been spent to purchase, install and maintain these points.
- This has boosted two local companies that rent kayaks and canoes and guide individuals down the river --- Simple Adventures and Clinton River Canoe and Kayak. In the last three years alone, Clinton River Canoe and Kayak has had more than 10,000 rentals.
Plans to increase this capacity were then unveiled by Executive Hackel.
“As far as we know, Macomb County’s Clinton River is one of the first water trails in the state to be completely and universally accessible,” he said. “But we hope to add more launches. So in the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more about a competitive grant for our local communities. This will be an extension of our bicentennial and FCA legacy gift and we’re thrilled to share more details soon.”
For more information on the Clinton River, click here.