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


PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Friends of the Rouge (FOTR) has been awarded a nearly $400,000 grant by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s (EGLE) Nonpoint Source Program to develop approximately 31,500 square feet of rain gardens adjacent to the FOTR office located at the PARC-Plymouth Arts & Recreation Complex, in downtown Plymouth. The project is part of a planned parking lot renovation at PARC.

The primary goal of the rain garden project is to create a beautiful, high-performance stormwater management system at the FOTR office. The gardens will control and filter significant volumes of stormwater to make considerable progress towards resolving issues with sedimentation and flow instability in Tonquish Creek, a tributary to the Rouge River that has been highly impaired by stormwater impacts. The rain gardens will absorb as much as 240,000 gallons of stormwater each rainfall and create habitats for pollinators like butterflies and bees. The gardens will serve as an educational tool and demonstrate best practices that residents across southeast Michigan can use at home and in community landscapes to help solve problems with flooding and water pollution.

“PARC’s decision to include rain gardens as part of the parking lot renovation shows the organization’s commitment to protecting the watershed,” said Matthew Bertrand, FOTR Restoration Manager. “The gardens will serve as a welcome area for visitors, make the parking lot and building a more attractive, inviting space for our community to enjoy and provide shade during the heat of the summer.”

FOTR will take a lead role in maintaining the rain gardens and actively promote the features and benefits to PARC’s more than 150,000 annual visitors.

Rain gardens are designed to soak up and clean polluted stormwater. Like a large shallow saucer, rain gardens commonly hold about 6” of water, and are designed to drain within 48 hours. They store floodwaters underground and help maintain water levels in creeks during dry periods while also helping improve water quality by removing pollutants from runoff.

“The Rouge River watershed contains some of the most urbanized communities in southeast Michigan and the river experiences high flow variability and poor water quality due to the high amount of impervious surfaces,” said Jack Cotrone, Environmental Quality Analyst with Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “Not only will this project help manage stormwater in a key area of the watershed, but we hope its location at a major hub of community activity will make it an excellent site for demonstrating the feasibility of integrating green infrastructure into routine construction and maintenance projects.”

About Friends of the Rouge

The Friends of the Rouge is a local, community driven nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1986 to raise awareness about the need to clean up the Rouge River in southeast Michigan.  To learn more about Friends of the Rouge, visit us at www.therouge.org or call 734-927-4900.  

About PARC

PARC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that manages the 16 acre complex in downtown Plymouth. The complex is home to numerous arts and recreational activities serving the citizens of the Plymouth Community and beyond. The present building is a 100-year old school building (formerly Plymouth High School and then Central Middle School). In 2015, a coalition of local residents and community leaders assumed leadership of the property, which was purchased by local residents Mark and Patty Malcolm and deeded to the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, after the school district opted to discontinue operations at the site. In 2018, residents of Plymouth and Plymouth Township voted against a $25 million dollar millage that would have renovated the historic building and constructed an 800-seat auditorium, largely out of opposition to the auditorium concept. Now, PARC has assumed ownership of the property, granted by the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, and, with 30 non-profit and arts tenants, manages day to-day operations funded with rent from tenants. Learn more about PARC:  www.plymouthparc.com or call 734-927-4090