The Pere Marquette and Muskegon rivers may get all the glory, but, according to Jake Lemon, eastern angler science coordinator with Trout Unlimited, the White River has plenty to offer too.
The White River is a popular place for fly fishing, camping, and beloved family cottages. Smaller and shallower, the river is home to brown and brook trout, steelhead, and salmon as it runs through Newaygo, Oceana, and Muskegon counties.
“It supports high-quality and varied fisheries,” said Jake. “The watershed is sandwiched between the Pere Marquette and Muskegon rivers and it doesn’t get as much attention, but we can improve water quality, the fishery, and recreational opportunities for these communities along the river.”
Recently, Trout Unlimited began leading efforts focused on restoring and protecting the White River watershed. A gathering hosted by the Community Foundation earlier this year brought together community representatives to share perspectives and develop priorities. Trout Unlimited stepped up to provide leadership moving forward and this spring received a $38,022 grant from the Community Foundation to continue the work.
“We want to build a groundswell of good partners using good science,” said Jake. “None of this would be possible without the Community Foundation. It’s been the catalyst for something that can grow.”
By working with partners from local landowners all the way up to federal agencies, Trout Unlimited is focused on improving watershed health and building stronger connections between communities and the river that runs through them. Culvert remediation, bank stabilization, and exploring economic impact are just a few projects planned or already underway.
“There are great opportunities to significantly improve the watershed,” said Jake. “I would like to have a well-connected community of caretakers working together to find opportunities to restore and protect the watershed. That’s the big picture.”