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DATE: Oct. 12, 2005

Continuing progress on the Rouge River and its watershed to be the focus of meeting at UM-Dearborn Oct. 29

DEARBORN---The Rouge River, which was once a synonym for urban environmental problems, has become one of Michigan's leading examples of progressive urban land use policy over the last 15 years.

That's according to organizers of Rouge 2005, which will feature reports on the status of the river and its watershed by elected officials, environmental professionals and community leaders at a meeting at the University of Michigan-Dearborn at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.

The meeting will end at noon with the dedication of the Rouge River Gateway Greenway Trail, a path through the campuses of Henry Ford Community College and UM-Dearborn, connecting Hines Drive and the Wayne County parks with the entertainment and shopping districts in west Dearborn.

Rouge 2005 is the 15th consecutive report to Rouge River watershed stakeholders who have worked together to clean up the river and expand the region's capacity to make the Rouge a recreational and environmental asset to the community. The Rouge River watershed spans approximately 438 square miles, and is home to more 1.5 million people in 48 communities and 3 counties.

"Thanks to the bipartisan work in Michigan's congressional delegation, led by John Dingell, what once was one of the most polluted rivers in the country has become much cleaner over the past 20 years," according to Edward Bagale, vice chancellor for government relations at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and co-chair of the Rouge River Gateway Partnership. "So while we're going to talk about the progress we've made so far, we are also going to look at ways to make even more progress in the future." The Rouge River Gateway Partnership is a coalition of businesses, cultural and academic institutions and governmental agencies along the Rouge River.
Much of the progress on the clean-up of the Rouge has been spurred by the Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project, a cooperative effort among federal, state and local agencies supported by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and additional funding from local communities.

The EPA grant has been managed by Wayne County since 1992 and county executive Robert Ficano will be one of the speakers at the session.

Other speakers will include Gloria Jeff, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation; Dearborn Mayor Michael Guido, and members of the state's congressional delegation.

The meeting is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. Those planning to attend should call (313) 593-5140, or send an e-mail to ebagale@umich.edu.

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