Projects Help Restore

Iconic Rouge River

Two upcoming Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects in the Rouge River will restore damaged stream banks, restore wetlands, reduce stormwater runoff, decrease flooding and create fish and wildlife habitat.


The Danvers Dam project will remove the Danvers Pond Dam, which is located on Pebble Creek, a tributary of the Rouge River. The project will restore a more natural river channel, which will reduce flooding downstream. Restoration of the stream bank will create habitat for fish and wildlife. The project known as “Transforming the Rouge River Area of Concern” will restore stream banks, wetlands and upland habitat to advance efforts to eliminate beneficial use impairments in the watershed. The project will create 25 acres of native vegetation and restore seven acres of wetlands in the main, upper and lower branches of the Rouge River, which is a major tributary of the Detroit River.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Loss of wetlands
  • Loss of other fish and wildlife habitat
  • Alteration of natural stream flow
  • Excessive storm water runoff
  • Degradation of water quality


A wetland with grasses and water

Wetlands, like the one pictured above, help filter pollution, absorb excess water, and provide valuable habitat for fish and wildlife. Credit: Dave Brenner Michigan Sea Grant Wetland in Alpena, Michigan

Results and Accomplishments

Initial work is just beginning on the Danvers Dam removal and stream bank restoration projects. But the Rouge River has already improved dramatically since the 1960s, when the lower river was so polluted it caught fire. Over the past three decades, local, state and federal agencies have invested $1.6 billion on a multitude of projects aimed at restoring the Rouge. The projects reduced storm water runoff and sanitary sewer overflows, restored fish and wildlife habitat by removing small dams, stabilized erosion-prone stream banks and created new fish spawning sites. The Rouge is far from being a pristine river, but past efforts have allowed several species of fish and wildlife to return to the river. Water quality also has improved to the point that people now fish and kayak in the river.