In-Depth Study of the White River Begins
NEWAYGO COUNTY, MICHIGAN: The White River Watershed Collaborative (WRWC) recently launched an effort to study the economic impact of the White River in Newaygo, Oceana and Muskegon Counties. The study is intended to develop a baseline to gauge progress in the communities along the White River. The study will be conducted over a 12-month period to evaluate the economic impact of the White River on local communities through river-based recreation and property values. Information gathered will be leveraged to target opportunities to both capitalize on and improve the quality of the White River.
Since 2019, the WRWC has focused on environmental and economic opportunities of the White River and surrounding watershed. WRWC is led by Trout Unlimited’s Jake Lemon and involves stakeholders from over 40 local, state and federal organizations. The WRWC Economic Opportunity subcommittee, led by Newaygo County's Economic Development Director, Julie Burrell, identified the opportunity to conduct an economic impact study of the White River.
Recognizing the potential value of this study, West Michigan Shoreline Development Commission (WMSRDC) stepped up to serve as the fiduciary on behalf of WRWC. WMSRDC was able to successfully apply for and receive funding from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Community Foundation for Oceana County and the Fremont Area Community Foundation. Additional funding partners include Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited and Free The White River Group. One hundred percent of funds raised will be dedicated to contracting with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to conduct the study.
After months of planning, organizing and fundraising, a contract was signed with GVSU in July. The project hit the ground running, with river use intercept surveys beginning immediately. The project will also include business surveys, a river communities survey and an analysis of the White River property values. Simply put, this information will be compiled into models to estimate the economic impact of the river in terms of commerce generated and property values.
Surveys are expected to continue through June 2023 to capture all seasons and varieties of river usage. The project is expected to be completed in July 2023. For additional information please go to the project page on the WMSRDC website http://wmsrdc.org/project/white-river-impact/
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