Sharing insights and exploring nature: Creating an experience along the Grand River

Taking place at Fish Ladder Park, the Grand River Walk was hosted by the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL). Addie Myers, a fisheries management biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), shared her knowledge about the Grand River, the dams and ladders as well as how they affect the different fish species, invasive species and conservation of natural habitat. Following the presentation, attendees were able to participate in a very spirited Q & A session.

Photo by Tyler Herbstreith

Walking south along the western bank of the Grand River to Ah-Nab-Awen Park near the Gerald R. Ford Museum attendees met Bruce Ling. Ling is a historian, music teacher, local musician — Hawks and Owls String Band — and co-founder of Grand River Water Festival with his wife Rebecca. Bruce Ling explained the environmental impact humans have had, on not only the rivers and waterways, but nature as a whole.  He stressed the importance of responsible cohabitation with the rivers and wildlife. Bruce Ling is no stranger to rivers as he has been living on them for most of his life — the Flat River, Thornapple River, and now Grand River to name a few. 

Photo by Tyler Herbstreith

Bruce was later joined by his wife Rebecca Ling, a published Botanist. Specializing in native plants, she spoke briefly about their importance and their connection to rivers and waterways.  After that the duo treated attendees to a couple of tunes on fiddle and guitar. “The Crawdad Shuffle” (a Bruce Ling Original Song) was a lively yet sorrowful jig and was accompanied by a very endearing story about doing your part to make the world a better place.

Nathan Mabie, a library assistant with GRPL, was in charge of bringing this event to fruition.  The goal was not only to educate people and enjoy a beautiful day by the River, but also to highlight the River Walk itself. People can enjoy a safe and functional round trip walk about the Grand River, from the 6th Street Bridge to the Blue Bridge on both the east and west banks of the River — never having to cross a street or highway.

Photo by Tyler Herbstreith

In addition to the aquatic life, attendees were able to learn more about other wildlife. Ospreys could be observed fishing along the Grand River and people were treated to several successful dives. Ospreys have a unique and mesmerizing way of acquiring their prey. They circle high above the water (roughly 30 to 40 feet) searching for their next meal. When a fish is spotted, the osprey hovers momentarily before diving straight down and plunging into the water. With very little splash, the powerful bird disappears into the depths of the water for what may feel like a lifetime for the observer waiting in anticipation, but is actually only a few seconds. As quickly as the Osprey disappears, the bird breaks the surface and emerges with a fish between its talons. Grand Rapids is host to two sets of Osprey mates. Both couples hatched three fledglings a piece and all six are surviving and thriving.
Photo by Tyler Herbstreith

Additionally, local artist George Eberhardt was on-site working on a spray paint mural of a Blue Heron in one of the underpasses of the River Walk.

Photo by Tyler Herbstreith

To learn more about upcoming GRPL events, visit their website.

Photos by Tyler Herbstreith

About Tyler Herbstreith: Tyler Herbstreith is a local photographer, musician and part-time bartender. After traveling and working in all 48 contiguous states, he finds himself back home in Grand Rapids. His photography typically focuses on, but is not limited to, the diverse local live music scene and capturing delectable food and beverage images.

About Leandra Nisbet: Leandra Nisbet, Owner of Stingray Advisory Group LLC and Co-Owner of Brightwork Marine LLC, has over 15 years of experience in leadership, sales & marketing, and graphic design. She helps businesses grow and assists with: strategic planning, marketing concept development/implementation, risk management, and financial organization. She is actively involved in the community, sitting on several Boards and committees, and has been recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 Business Leaders in Grand Rapids.

Contact Leandra Nisbet by email at [email protected]!
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