A Note from Our Friends at Grand Rapids Whitewater

On August 19, we are preparing to host our second annual Tribute on the Grand event on the banks of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids! Because the event is in direct support of Grand Rapids Whitewater, we thought we’d check in with GRWW’s Matt Chapman to see how the project is progressing. Last year’s event raised over $200,000 for the cause!How are these funds used?
They’re used to continue our ongoing efforts to restore the Grand River for everyone. Even though we don’t see construction equipment in the river right now, we have an incredible team of experts working behind the scenes to bring back the rapids.

What does it take to restore a river?
Rivers are ever-changing and incredibly complex environments. Each day the Grand River flows through our city and though it often looks the same, there are federally endangered animals like the snuffbox mussel, state threatened species like the lake sturgeon and unwanted invasive species like the sea lamprey. Restoration of the Grand River requires a balancing act of all these elements to create unique habitat areas that benefit the fish and animals in the river, while also creating opportunities for an improved river experience for those interested in playing in it, on it, or alongside of it.

The funds raised from Tribute on the Grand allow Grand Rapids Whitewater to:

  • Continue scientific research and studies that guide the direction of our restoration efforts
  • Continue a high level of engineering and design review with industry leading hydraulic engineers and biologists
  • Conduct educational opportunities and outreach efforts with schools, businesses, and community organizations.
  • Work collaboratively with key project stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels

Grand River downtown Grand Rapids

Progress is happening!
We are finalizing the design plans and working through the remaining technical issues. In December, our friends at the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council were awarded with an $8 million grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service that will provide approximately $5.1 million dollars of funding assistance towards the in-stream habitat restoration efforts in the Grand River and $2.9 million dollars for restoration in the Rouge River & Indian Mill Creek Watersheds. With approximately $10 million of funding commitments, Grand Rapids Whitewater will launch a fundraising campaign early next year to raise the remainder of the funds needed to complete the project.

How much longer until construction starts?
We know we have been saying “two more years” for the last seven, but we are getting closer. As our experts resolve the remaining technical issues, you can help by being our advocates and cheerleaders. Restoring our namesake rapids will provide lasting environmental, social and recreational benefits for our entire community.

The Grand River built this city, and for years we have turned our backs on this important natural resource. Tribute on the Grand provides a community wide platform to celebrate the river and culture that makes West Michigan such an amazing place to live, work and play.

Special thank you to Founders Brewing Co., Fox 17, Alliance Beverage and all the incredible sponsors who have signed on to support Tribute on the Grand. With your help we can, “Put the Rapids Back in the Grand River for Everyone!”

Learn more at:



Email: matt@grandrapidswhitewater.org

Check out last year’s Tribute on the Grand recap below. We hope to see you there!

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