Conservation Efforts In Detroit
Rouge River flows for miles through the Detroit metro area. Photo by Angela Anderson.
At A Glance
- Rouge Park is 40% bigger than New York's Central Park.
- Rouge River is 127 miles long and flows into the Detroit River at Zug Island, which is the boundary between the cities of River Rouge and Detroit.
- Until the 1990s, when a massive cleanup was implemented, the river was heavily polluted and even caught fire in 1969.
- The Fund's Go Zero program aims to restore 100 acres in Rouge Park with native trees.
Detroit has been in the news a lot lately, but the news is rarely good. The city potentially faces the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, its services are shrinking and its crime rate remains high with no signs of abating. With a generation of young adults leaving in droves to find work, population decline is a serious issue with far-reaching consequences. Once home to 1.9 million people, Detroit now has just 700,000 residents, leaving an estimated 30,000 acres of distressed land. Its rivers are polluted, and its parks are left with no one to care for them.
But don’t count Detroit out yet.
The people of Detroit are proud and resourceful. They love their city and want to see it bounce back and be even better than before. We believe in Detroit’s future, and we’re helping its recovery be green.
Parks With Purpose
We’ve taken on several projects with the intent to support green businesses and restore Detroit’s green spaces. This includes helping to restore Rouge Park as part of our Parks With Purpose program. We created this program to address the specific challenges facing urban conservation efforts. Parks With Purpose is about much more than protecting urban green space and parks. For each project, we work with the local community to identify, protect and restore the very best land that creates safer places for children to play and families to gather.
Established in 1920, Rouge Park is one of America’s biggest urban green spaces, covering more than 1,100 acres. The park, on Detroit’s west side, is home to the city’s only remaining riverside forest, where a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, make their home. Two miles of the Rouge River flow through the park, supporting an abundance of fish such as sturgeon, silver and green bass, salmon and walleye.
For years Rouge Park was a gathering place for the community. Families came to picnic, swim and play outdoors. There is a golf course and driving range, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, playgrounds, bike trails, camp sites and swimming pools. Today it is owned by the city, but is essentially cared for by local groups, including Friends of Rouge Park and The Greening of Detroit. They hope to restore the park, turning it once more into a popular destination for residents.
Go Zero® Tree Planting
Donations from U-Haul and its customers to The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program will support the planting of 1,600 trees at Rouge Park, led by The Greening of Detroit. This effort is the result of a seven-year partnership between U-Haul and the Fund to protect and restore wild areas. U-Haul purchased and revitalized the historic seven-story NBC-Nabisco Building in New Center—reopening it as a self-storage facility this year, and the company continues to help restore Detroit through a variety of initiatives. Go Zero aims to restore 100 acres in Rouge Park. Learn more >>
Growing Detroit’s Green Economy Fund
Communities depend on the growing green economy to help ensure there will be local jobs, and restored forests, clean streams, healthy food and safe, accessible parks in the future. Established by U-Haul and The Conservation Fund, Growing Detroit’s Green Economy Fund will provide small grants to nonprofit organizations throughout the city that provide financial assistance to the most promising entrepreneurs and organizations that need a leg up to leverage and scale their efforts.
Many green entrepreneurs have a hard time finding the technical and financial resources they need to grow their enterprises. With limited personal resources and banks reluctant to lend money, it can be hard for these small businesses and organizations to flourish, no matter how bright their future may be. Growing Detroit’s Green Economy Fund is there to help.