Stanwood, Michigan – Dec. 6, 2021 – BlueTriton Brands, Inc. (BTB), in collaboration with Fremont Area Community Foundation, is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of grants awarded through the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund (IMESF). The IMESF supports the long-term sustainability of the Muskegon River and its ecosystems by funding environmental conservation projects and programs throughout the watershed.
The Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund was established through Fremont Area Community Foundation in 2002 by Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA), now BlueTriton Brands. Grants awarded through the IMESF help sustain the waters and water-dependent natural resources of the Muskegon River by supporting conservation, enhancement, and restoration projects. The fund provides up to approximately $50,000 annually, with individual grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
“We are proud to provide grant support to these outstanding organizations doing important work along the Muskegon River,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of Fremont Area Community Foundation. “We are also grateful for the generosity and ongoing support of BlueTriton Brands and for their commitment to the conservation and restoration of the Muskegon River watershed.”
County of Newaygo
Project Name: Michigan's Dragon at Hardy Dam
This grant will directly fund construction along the Dragon Trail in Newaygo and Mecosta Counties. This will allow greater access for trail visitors while protecting the sensitive watershed area around Hardy Pond, which was formed by the Hardy Dam, the largest earthen dam in the United States east of the Mississippi River. The pond is surrounded by 50 miles of shoreline and 4,000 surface acres of water. The pond is also part of the Muskegon River, which boasts abundant wildlife, including otters, waterfowl, deer, eagles, and numerous species of fish. When complete, Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam—the Dragon Trail—will be approximately 47 miles in length, forming a loop around the Hardy Pond Reservoir.
"The Dragon is drawing more people to our area faster than expected, and the Trail is only about 50% complete,” said Nick Smith, Parks and Recreation Director for the County of Newaygo. “In addition to the positive tourism and economic impact, we are introducing many new people to the beauty and importance of the Muskegon River Watershed and Hardy Pond. Aside from the important economic impact, this project is connecting people to nature, and we hope it may give them a deeper appreciation of our natural environment that they can take home with them."
The unique trail will include six trailheads, 13 designated trail overlooks and parking at existing recreation sites. The trail will have a natural surface and will be two feet wide when completed.
The 2021 IMESF grant recipients’ projects also include:
Big Rapids Public Schools
Project Name: Bridge Repair for Environmental Studies and Physical Fitness Project
Mecosta Conservation District
Project Name: 2021 Household Hazardous Waste Collection
Muskegon River Watershed Assembly
Project Name: Maple River-Restoring Community Resiliency, Natural Resources and Public Safety
Funds provided through the IMESF support projects located anywhere along the 2,700-square-mile watershed stretching across 12 counties beginning near Houghton Lake and ending in the City of Muskegon, where the river flows into Lake Michigan. Projects funded by IMESF grants over the past 19 years have included erosion control, rain gardens, restoration to creeks, dams and nature areas, site clean-ups and improvements, among many others. In 2019, an additional $2 million commitment was made to the IMESF to support conservation projects for the next 20+ years.