A Park With Purpose

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.

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.

Donations from U-Haul and its customers to The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program helped plant 1,600 trees at Rouge Park, led by The Greening of Detroit. 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.

Restoration activities in Detroit are complemented by the new Growing Detroit’s Green Economy Fund, established by U-Haul and The Conservation Fund, to provide small grants to microenterprises and organizations whose business models are directly tied to the sustainable use of natural resources (with a preference for urban agriculture, community gardens, and urban forestry).

Why This Project Matters

We believe in Detroit’s future, and we’re helping its recovery be green. A strong green economy helps ensure there will be local jobs, restored forests, clean streams, healthy food and safe, accessible parks in the future. Rouge Park has always been a fixture in this community, and we’re making sure it stays that way for generations to come.

While the tree planting activities at Rouge Park are for habitat purposes only (it’s too small to be a validated carbon project), the EPA estimates one tree can absorb approximately one metric ton of carbon over its lifetime. This means that 1,600 trees planted in Rouge Park can sequester 1,600 metric tons of CO2 as they mature. This is similar to the emissions resulting from 300 vehicles in a year or the greenhouse gas emissions avoided by recycling almost 600 tons of waste instead of sending it to the landfill.

Face of This Place

Wendy SamsThe Fund's own Wendy Sams, a native of Detroit, talks about what the city means to her and how she feels about our efforts to restore her hometown. Read her story >>