From the Office of the Director

Marty Holtgren PHD

Executive Director, Muskegon River Watershed Assembly


Many years ago the MRWA was formed through a grassroots effort of people concerned about the condition of the Muskegon River Watershed.  The heartbeat of the organization was, and continues to be, people that dedicate their time, passion, and money to protect and improve the watershed.  With this in mind, all of us are MRWA; staff, the board, and community members who come together under a common purpose.

Cooperation. Collaboration. Partnership. Words you hear often around the table in any room full of conservation and natural resource professionals. Words and phrases representing concepts mentioned so often and so routinely that you might think over time they would lose  their impact, their importance ignored due to over familiarity.

The fact is my colleagues and I understand that we must keep these ideas front of mind and always remember that nothing good happens independently but rather in an environment where shared values are discussed, and a synergy is produced that activates beneficial changes to the watershed. Since we intend to practice good environmental stewardship, we fully realize the vital importance of productive, mutually beneficial, long-term relationships.

As an environmental non-profit organization incorporated under and subject to the regulations of section 501(c3) of the federal tax codes the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly brings real value, and an unparalleled base of supporters, whenever the discussion focuses on restoration work within our geography. Because of our official status augmented by a solid reputation developed over two decades we have access to local, state and federal funding, which is where the discussion gets serious.

In a highly competitive grant market, MRWA staff are consistently successful in generating, on average, $500,000 annually for boots on the ground projects that have measureable positive impact on freshwater resources. Stream crossing upgrades, obsolete dam removals and major reforestation projects are typical of the activities that we can fund. In many cases, partnership with other organizations jointly applying for funds increases the total amount of the grant. So even at this early stage, good relationships multiply our effectiveness.

In addition to creating revenue streams, we also serve as project manager for nearly all of the work funded by the grants we obtain. We collaborate (that word again) with engineers, contractors and community members, who do the heavy lifting, work that we are not equipped or staffed to do.

At the end of the day any successful project has by necessity been a collaborative effort.  If you are reading this article you are likely an MRWA supporter.  Thank you for being a part of MRWA and an important piece to what makes us successful in preserving our watershed.  Your efforts and partnership are appreciated!

Special thanks to Vicki Sawicki, program coordinator for the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA) for her article in this addition of the Riverview. It’s a perfect illustration of the power of partnership