Our Work


Friends of the Rouge engages thousands of people each year in hands-on restoration and stewardship efforts throughout the Rouge River watershed through a number of public involvement and education programs. 

Project Highlights
  • Rouge Rescue was started in 1986 to involve volunteers from the community in cleaning up and restoring the Rouge River. Held annually in the spring, thousands of volunteers participate at 20-50 sites throughout the watershed.  Rouge Rescue is one of the largest annual river clean-up events in the nation.

  • River Restoration refers to both educational programming, such as workshops, and hands-on projects, like rain garden plantings, that provide opportunities for residents to learn how to take care of the land along the river.

  • The Rouge Education Project (REP) was founded in 1987 and is a school-based water quality monitoring program involving elementary, middle and high schools from across southeastern Michigan. Students perform hands-on scientific exploration of the Rouge River including evaluating chemical, biological and physical parameters of water quality. Students are further encouraged to take action to help the river based on their results.

  • Volunteer Monitoring includes three different biological monitoring programs all designed to engage volunteers in collecting data to assess the health of the river.

    • Bug Hunts involve volunteers in collecting data on benthic macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects, clams, snails, etc.) that live in the stream. 

    • The Rouge Frog & Toad Survey trains volunteers to track wetland health by listening for frog and toad calls in the spring and early summer. 

    • Fish Monitoring was started in 2012 to collect current data on fish populations and address new issues.

  • The Rouge River Water Trail is a 25 mile paddling trail that FOTR is working to develop with local partners.  
Please use the menu located on the left side of this page to learn more about specific FOTR projects.