The White River -- passing through Newaygo, Oceana, and Muskegon Counties before entering Lake Michigan from White Lake -- has been designated as a natural river under Michigan's Natural Rivers Act. In addition to creating a "hall of fame" for preserving the great rivers of the state for current and future generations, the state legislature has primarily entrusted the townships along the White River with the work of maintaining their river's natural qualities through their planning and zoning efforts.
In Newaygo County, there are seven townships and two municipalities along the White River. The Fremont Area Community Foundation (FACF) recognized the important roles these nine communities hold in protecting the White River in such a manner that balances the various needs and concerns of stakeholders along the river. Consequently, the FACF has funded the second phase of a previous project, undertaken by the AWRI, to gauge the familiarity of riparian property owners with the requirements of the Natural Rivers Act, as well as to explore how to develop a framework for cooperative decision-making among the nine communities. The AWRI is also working with the White River Watershed Partnership, who has been very interested in the findings of this Newaygo County project and has been an important participant in guiding the project.
In addition to distributing and summarizing a questionnaire to riparian property owners, AWRI will organize a meeting this spring, a White River Summit, inviting the nine communities to discuss the Natural Rivers Act and the advantages and disadvantages of collaborative planning along the White River in Newaygo County.