Public Involvement and Education
The Rouge Project's strategy for a comprehensive
public involvement and education program to support Rouge River
restoration activities has been a success. Since the Rouge Project's
inception in 1992, it was clear that public education and involvement
programs were a cornerstone of the restoration of the Rouge River.
The actions taken since the beginning of the Project were based
on a 1993
survey of area residents which determined that while few people
viewed the Rouge River as a viable resource because of its pollution,
the majority broadly supported and were optimistic about efforts
to improve its quality.
A 1999 survey of the Rouge River residents confirmed that the actions taken by the Rouge Project were resulting in an increasingly informed and supportive public. A paper compares the results of the 1993 and 1999 surveys of Rouge River residents.
This necessitated creating a strong consensus building public involvement
program to address the concerns of area residents, educate the community
about the effect of their current activities on the watershed and
include all stakeholders in the mission to restore the Rouge River.
A Rouge River Public Involvement Action Plan was created in the
fall of 1994 based upon the survey.
The goal of the Action Plan was to engage numerous stakeholders,
inform them, and hopefully gain their support and encourage them
to change their behavior to help achieve and maintain a healthy
watershed. The public involvement strategy used the philosophy that
communication with Rouge River watershed stakeholders must be continual,
consistent, truthful and always two-way. In addition, since many
of those surveyed thought the causes of pollution to the Rouge River
was from industrial sources, a public education campaign had to
explain the impact of storm water and non-point source pollution
on the river. Finally, the campaign had to explain to everyone their
personal responsibility in Rouge River restoration efforts.
Rouge River restoration messages include:
- Use your head, you live in a watershed;
- Storm drains aren't garbage cans;
- When it comes to pollution, every home is waterfront property;
- Everyone is part of the problem and needs to be part of the
- Simple changes can make big differences.
In the following two years, from late 1995-97, strategies were
developed, materials were drafted and outreach activities were created
to discover what best engaged the general public.
Informational materials were developed incorporating those messages
for a variety of audiences, such as businesses, students, citizens,
etc. In addition, stewardship opportunities are successfully being
implemented such as: The River
Friendly Partners Program, and Friends of the Rouge programs,
such as, Storm Drain
Stenciling, Frog and
Toad Survey, the Rouge Education
Program, Rouge Rescue/River Day, and other community pollution
prevention initiatives funded by the Rouge Project. The Public Involvement
Team has also helped facilitate public education and public participation
activities in the seven Rouge River subwatersheds
required by the Michigan General
Storm Water Permit.
Wayne County Department of Environment's Rouge River Publications Clearinghouse offers a variety of education materials available for purchase. Materials include publications, brochures, CDs, and much more. Rouge River road signage is also available for purchase. For further information call the Rouge Information Line at 1-888-223-2363.
In addition to programs and materials offered by the Wayne County
Rouge Program Office, many of the 48 communities in the watershed
are sponsoring their own public involvement and education activities
as part of the requirements of the Michigan General Storm Water
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