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In This Newsletter:

•   FORP Asks for New Location for Recreation Center

•   October Recap: Five Volunteer Work Days, Fish & Tree Nature Walk, All Terrain Bike Ramble 

FORP Holiday Party! December 19 at 6:00pm

    President's Corner

    Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons to recreate in Rouge Park. This summer and fall, we ramped up our efforts to restore trails and habitat in Rouge Park, thanks to a new partner: the USDA Forest Service. Lisa Perez, Detroit Urban Connections Program Specialist at USDA Forest Service worked with us to develop a Challenge Cost Share Agreement to cooperate to engage youth and families in outdoor conservation education and service learning. 


    This new USDA Forest Service agreement enabled us to bring on Antonio Cosme and David Oakley. Since June, they have been engaging youth and young adults in restoring the park kiosks, building the Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail, teaching people about the forest and prairie and tackling the huge issue that we have with non native woody plants in the park. We are so honored to have support to engage people in Rouge Park's urban forests from our federal government! We are also happy to report that we will continue and expand this relationship including looking to employ a team of local youth to spend a week working in the park next summer.


    Your Friends of Rouge Park Board continues to grow the organization. We are completing the draft of a Five Year Strategic Plan that we will be sharing with you for your input. We have applied for funding for a cherry grove and indigenous fruit and nut tree trail. We are very excited to have received funding through the Michigan Non Profit Relief Fund to help keep our organization running after the challenges of the pandemic. And we just kicked off the process of working with Goaltrac to develop a staffing and fundraising plan to be completed early next year.


    We also continue to advocate for Rouge Park. We have been working with Commissioner Alisha Bell with support from Councilman Fred Durhal's office to get bike lanes and a road diet on Outer Drive, a simple task complicated by the two jurisdictions. We have learned that the city's plan to make Rouge Park a self-contained park with staff headquartered in the park continues to be delayed by the renovations in the service yard but should be completed next spring. We continue to work with the city to ensure that the DWSD projects in Rouge Park accomplish their purpose in treating stormwater without taking away from the park. We are discussing the impact that the ever present sound of multiple gunshots from the Rouge Park Pistol Range has on park goers and surrounding residents. And, we are excited about the upcoming Pistons funded Recreation Center and are working to ensure that this center fits with the park with a minimal impact on the natural resources.


    As we look to November, it is the time of year to give thanks to all of you for your support in making Rouge Park the best it can be.  Please consider a year end donation to help support this important work. We also hope to see you at our Holiday Party on Tues. Dec. 19 at 6 pm.


    -Sally Petrella, President

    The Friends of Rouge Park Mission:


    To protect, restore, and promote a natural, environmentally healthy, and culturally vibrant Rouge Park that engages the community for the benefit and enjoyment of all.


    We can't do it without your support!


    New Rouge Park Recreation Center Must Not Destroy Trees

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    A new recreation center is a much needed asset for the west side of the city and will be a great asset for Rouge Park. The Friends of Rouge Park are extremely grateful to the Pistons Foundation for making this center possible. On September 25th, the City shared the first draft plans to the community. Friends of Rouge Park Board members attending were very concerned to learn that the proposed location between the Brennan Pools and the parking lot would require the destruction of 25 majestic oak trees in the 100 year old Brennan Pools Oak Grove. We also are concerned about the loss of direct access to the pools building for people with physical disabilities.


    An alternative location not wedged between the pools building and the parking lot would provide more open land for adjacent recreational amenities to be added in the future.


    The Brennan Pools Oak Grove was planted as part of the original park landscaping in the 1920s when the park first opened and the Brennan Pools were built. It is a precious part of Rouge Park history and indisputably the most beautifully landscaped area in the entire park, complementing the beautiful architecture of the Brennan Pool Building. 


    Rouge Park lost hundreds of huge elm trees that lined its park roads 50 years ago that were never replanted. We lost twelve 100+ year old oaks at an Outer Drive oak grove to the DWSD Tunnel Project ten years ago. Just this year we lost another 100+ trees along the riverfront Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail to the current DWSD Stormwater Project. We need to protect our precious natural heritage from further loss! Rouge Park has plenty of open space for the construction of the new recreation center. 


    The Board of the Friends of Rouge Park sent a letter to the city after it released its current proposal for the location of the new recreation center at a community meeting on Sept. 25. We have asked the city to present the community with alternative locations at its Nov. 16 community meeting. We provided two alternative locations in our letter (see it here) but would support any location that does not destroy irreplaceable precious park assets such as the historic Brennan Pools Oak Grove.

    Help Save the Historic Brennan Pools Oak Grove


    What you can do:


    • Attend the Nov. 16, 5:30pm community meeting at the Brennan Pools Building and voice your support for a new location that does not destroy the grove.


    • Write an email to Cheryl Perkins, Director of Detroit General Services Department at [email protected] to express your concerns

    Volunteers Make A Difference!

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    Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail Volunteers

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    Rocket Mortgage Volunteers in the Prairie

    FORP sponsored five volunteer work days in October; two on the Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail, two on the Scout Hollow Nature Trail and one in the prairie. 32 volunteers from Rocket Mortgage came to two of the workdays. Volunteers finished liberating an ancient native hawthorn tree that was being smothered by non-native honeysuckle and buckthorn and strangled by invasive bittersweet and porcelainberry vines. You can now enjoy the view of this awesome tree along the Prairie Pathway. Volunteers also cleared the nature trails of these invasive plants and helped build natural bridges over creeks along the trails.


    We will be sending out a list of work days for November shortly.

    October Events

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    Twenty curious people attended the Fish & Tree Walk on the Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail on October 8. Tree enthusiast Don Drife led the group in identifying tree species including the Kentucky Coffee-tree, Hackberry, Hemlock, Black Maple, American and Slippery Elm, and Basswood. Fish enthusiast Bob Muller shared photos and information about the species of fish found in the 4-1/2 miles of the Rouge River that runs through Rouge Park and how the fish community today compares with sampling records from 1936. Thank you to Don Drife and Bob Muller for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm!

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    Our second annual Rouge All Terrain Bike Ramble on October 21 was a successful day with biking enthusiasts joining the Hamtramck High School Outdoor Adventure Club for a lovely autumn day on the paved paths and Detroit's only mountain bike trail. Special thanks to Fjallraven's support with lots of gear prizes, Motor City Mountain Biking Association for skills instruction and trail preparation, and to volunteers from Detroit Outdoors and SOS Outreach for help along the trails. See you all next year! 

    Upcoming Events

    Detroit Parks Summit - Tues. Dec. 6, 11am-5pm - Marygrove Conservancy: Madame Cadillac Building

    Join park advocates and enthusiasts working in or programming at parks and public spaces in Detroit to network and learn.


    FORP Holiday Party - Tues. Dec. 19, 6pm - Starter's Bar & Grill Banquet Room (map)

    Join other Rouge Park lovers to celebrate the season.  Dinner and Happy Hour drinks available for purchase (see the menu).

    Register here

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