The Muskegon River Sturgeon Story

On Saturday, September 23rd, 112 dedicated friends of the Muskegon River gathered on her banks at Henning Park in Newaygo County to celebrate and release Sturgeon fry back into the Muskegon River by conducting a Traditional Sturgeon Release.

Prior to the release ceremony a group of paddlers participated in the annual kayak paddle with the assistance of the Voyage of Discovery crew from the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly.  The Sturgeon Fun Paddle had to be shortened due to low water conditions on the river but it appeared all that participated enjoyed the time they spent on the river.  Rachel Wisner of Wisner Canoes made this portion of the event possible.  We would like to extend a thank you to Rachel for her years of dedication and assistance to the MRWA Voyage of Discovery events along with volunteers John and Leischen Krause, Jim Kersjes, Mike Kersjes and Board Chair Ken Johnson.

The Sturgeon Release event was made possible due to the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, MRWA’s Scientist and volunteers who collected juvenile Sturgeon prior to a scheduled lampricide treatment.

In addition, to the releasing of juvenile Sturgeon, MRWA board, committee members and volunteers prepared plenty of interactive learning exhibits on aquatic invasive species, macroinventebrates, recycling, animal skins, Sturgeon skeletons, a watershed map station and a fishing pond filled with puzzle pieces of Sturgeon.  Once the children attended all of the stations, they were able to enter for a chance to release a Sturgeon fry.

Photograph courtesy of Ashley Folkema

Austen Brauker of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians provided the traditional welcome and release drumming songs. Jimmie Mitchell of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians served as pipe carrier to honor and protect the Sturgeon.

MRWA Contributors for Traditional Sturgeon Release

Ron Armstrong of Armstrong Display Concepts Inc., honoring Newaygo youth
Scott and Robin Faulkner of River Stop Cafe honoring Newaygo youth
Dave Ullrich of Chicago honoring his friend Doon
Mark and Kathy Guzniczak of Newaygo honoring Newaygo youth
George Heartwell of Newaygo honoring Jimmie Mitchell, Pipe Carrier of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
Ryan Huppert of Grand Rapids
Kevin Feenstra of Feenstra Guide Services of Newaygo
Wayne Groesbeck of Muskegon
George Heartwell of Newaygo honoring his grandson Micah Huppert
Cory Nelson in memory of his father Dr. Ron L. Nelson
Pat Lemson in memory of her husband Jim Lemson
Consumers Energy
Anonymous honoring Newaygo youth
Norman and Anita Christopher



The Outdoor Club, Ferris State University
The Bulldog Sustainability Club, Ferris State University
Marilyn Keigley, Photographer
Ashley Folkema, Photographer
Stephanie Ogren, Grand Rapids Public Museum
Randy Butters and Sarah Pregitzer, Aquatic Invasive Specialists

The following photographs are all courtesy of Ashley Folkema