Archived Story

St. Joseph River Watershed meeting planned in Sturgis

Published 6:01am Friday, March 16, 2012

The Friends of the St. Joe River (FotSJR) will host its fifth annual meeting of the St. Joseph River Watershed Council from 5 to 9 p.m. March 26 at the Sturges-Young Auditorium in Sturgis.

This event is open to the public, but registration is required. The program will focus on wetlands and why they are essential to the health of streams, rivers, inland lakes in the St. Joseph River Watershed and Lake Michigan.

Many people are not aware of the amount of wetland loss or the serious consequences of wetland loss, such as increased flooding and degraded water and habitat in rivers and lakes. Despite all the benefits provided by wetlands, the United States is losing about 80,000 acres of wetlands annually.

More than 50 percent of the wetlands in the St. Joseph River Watershed have been filled or drained in the last 200 years. The St. Joseph River Watershed is the third largest watershed of the Lake Michigan basin and is located in the southwest portion of Michigan and the northern portion of Indiana.

The major cities and villages in Michigan within the watershed include Niles, Dowagiac, Buchanan, Coldwater, Sturgis, Three Rivers, Berrien Springs, Paw Paw, Watervliet, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. In Indiana, major cities and villages include Angola, Kendallville, Albion, Syracuse, Middlebury, Goshen, Elkhart, Granger and South Bend.

The featured speaker will be Tom Springer, senior editor at the W.K Kellogg Foundation, who will present “It’s a Swamp Thing: How to Help the Public Care About Marshy, Mucky and Ducky Places.”

Springer is the author of “Looking for Hickories: The Forgotten Wildness of the Rural Midwest,” and has written for popular magazines such as Backpacker and Michigan Out-of-Doors. His nature-themed commentaries have aired on several National Public Radio programs. He holds a master’s degree in environmental journalism from Michigan State University.

The evening will include dinner, cash bar and a silent auction. For more details and to register online, visit

Additionally, the first annual Al Smith Watershed Stewardship Award will be presented at the meeting to a recipient already selected by the FotSJR Board members. This award recognizes an individual who displays a passion for the health of the watershed. The award is named in honor of FotSJR founder Al Smith who worked tirelessly to improve the St. Joseph River.

To sponsor the event or donate items for the silent auction, contact Leah Cooper, FotSJR outreach coordinator, at (574) 299-3421 or

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