friends@therouge.org | 734-927-4900 | Fax: 734-927-4920

Mission, Vision, and Core Values

Friends of the Rouge (FOTR) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that was founded in 1986 to raise awareness about the need to clean up the Rouge River in southeast Michigan.


To restore, protect, and enhance the Rouge River watershed through stewardship, education, and collaboration.


We envision a future where a clean and vibrant Rouge River is the center of our community.  Individual and community actions protect and improve the health of the Rouge River, assuring that its natural, economic, and recreational value enhances the quality of life in the Rouge River ecosystem.


We ensure public trust by acting with honesty, transparency, ethicality, and fiscal responsibility in all actions regarding the watershed and our community.

We commit to protecting and enhancing the watershed and improving the lives of the community through their interaction with the river. Our focus is on enhancing, monitoring, and conserving the ecological health of the watershed for the benefit of all members of the community and future generations.

We encourage protection and restoration of the Rouge River by providing opportunities that offer hands-on-immersive learning opportunities. We involve the public and promote engaged and educated stakeholders in the Rouge River watershed.

Evidence-based decision making
We provide and utilize evidence-based decision-making in our promotion of Rouge River restoration and stewardship. We deliver reliable and verified information to watershed stakeholders in order to evaluate the watershed, determine priorities and prioritize restoration efforts.

Community collaboration
We team with individuals, businesses, government, non-profits, citizen groups, and other community organizations for the creation of a strong network of champions.

Quality of life
We provide communities with the ability to personally, economically, and ecologically benefit from the Rouge River by transforming how the river is perceived, accessed, and appreciated.

We strive to recruit and retain membership, leadership, and staff who reflect the diversity of the communities in which we serve. We believe that the entire community benefits when everyone has equal access to information, programs, services, and activities.

Commitment to Equity to Access

Approved by the FOTR Board on March 9, 2022
Friends of the Rouge recognizes that to accomplish our mission, we must seek meaningful participation from everyone in our watershed.  We create the best solutions for our environment when we have diverse perspectives.

Many of our communities are continuing to experience pollution caused by our region’s history of discrimination against – and disinvestment from – communities of color, recent immigrants, and lower-income areas.  We know that we cannot restore, protect, and enhance the Rouge River without social and environmental justice.  Because of this, we prioritize community in our work and are committed to removing barriers and centering equity in access.  Access – to us – means education, recreation, green spaces, clean water, and decision-making power.  We are dedicated to asking questions and supporting the autonomy of our many communities, letting their expertise lead the way.

It is a privilege for us to be entrusted with this work.