Connecting Residents to the River and Gaining Members

Connecting Residents to the River and Gaining Members

One thing David Howell, Chairman of Friends of the Detroit River, loves to do is hop in his kayak and enjoy the wildlife along the Detroit River. That’s right, there is a lot of wildlife in the Detroit River. The Detroit River flows for 32 miles, connecting Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie. But, if you ask many residents of the Detroit area about the Detroit River, they don’t know much about it. David hopes that as the Friends of the Detroit River works on restoration projects and habitat improvement in the river, more and more urban and suburban dwellers will begin to appreciate this amazing resource. He doesn’t expect it to happen overnight, but knows that it will take perseverance to connect Detroiters to their River.

He hopes those connections will increase the appreciation of the beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and great recreational opportunities, not to mention the economic asset the River is to their community. Friends of the Detroit River is primarily a volunteer-led organization with a part-time Riverkeeper. Over the years the organization has had a strong membership, with about 1000 members currently. But relying on volunteer time to maintain communications with members and recruit new members has presented challenges. David and a few other board members worked with Freshwater Future staff to assess their current fundraising activities and develop a fundraising plan.

“Developing the fundraising plan with Freshwater Future reminded us of the importance of our members. We are looking forward to taking the steps to recruit new members and continue to connect Detroiters to the Detroit River through our projects and outreach activities,” shared David.

Through membership recruitment and ongoing education programs, David is confident that, with time, more Detroiters will share his appreciation of the River. And maybe, if they are lucky, they will hear a splash and see some of the great wildlife on the River.

For more information on Friends of the Detroit River visit



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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.