In News, River Restoration and Protection

America’s Largest Conference of River Enthusiasts to be Held in Grand Rapids in 2017

For Immediate Release

For more information, contact:
Becca Marcott, Digital Marketing and Event Manager, River Network
503-617-0236 | bmarcott [@]
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BOULDER, COLORADO January 14, 2016 – River Network announced today that it will hold its 2017 “River Rally” in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 8-11, 2017. The annual conference brings together hundreds of river enthusiasts – including environmental, community, business and government leaders from across the U.S. – who envision a future of clean and ample water for people and nature. River Network is a national organization that connects local groups working at the grassroots level in protecting and restoring local rivers and waterways.

“With its inspiring vision of restoring the namesake rapids and river in its urban core, Grand Rapids is an ideal location for our annual conference,” said River Network President Nicole Silk. “Attendees at our 2017 conference will be inspired by and learn from the Grand River restoration plan,” she continued, “and, in turn, Grand Rapids will have a chance to learn from similar efforts in other communities.”

“Grand Rapids is honored to host this important conference,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “Restoring the Grand River has captured the imagination of our community and hosting River Rally will draw national attention to our City and our river restoration plans.”

Restoring the Grand River and its namesake rapids has been championed by a local not-for-profit organization, Grand Rapids Whitewater, co-founded by residents Chip Richards and Chris Muller. “We started with a small group of whitewater kayakers and canoeists,” said Richards, “but the community quickly embraced and expanded this vision to restore the river and rapids for everyone with a plan that will bring ecological, economic and community benefits in addition to recreational opportunities.”

The Grand Rapids project has been endorsed by the federal government as one of 19 “Urban Water Federal Partnerships” nationwide; by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who highlighted it in his 2014 State of the State address; and the plan has been unanimously approved by the Grand Rapids City Commission and the Grand Valley Metro Council. “We have had extraordinary partners throughout the planning and design process,” said Chris Muller, “and it will be fitting to host River Rally in early 2017 just when construction is scheduled to begin.”


River Network envisions a future of clean and ample water for people and nature, where local caretakers are well-equipped, effective and courageous champions for rivers. Since 1988, River Network has been at the forefront of expanding national interest in protecting and restoring the waters of the United States. The organization empowers, unites, and connects people and communities, focusing its full attention on building the capacity and capability of these local caretakers.

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