Return the Rapids to Eaton Rapids

Creating Kayak and Paddle Rapids on the Grand River

Eaton Rapids, MI Other


This campaign was reached its goal on {{createDate('Sat, 19 Dec 2015 04:59:59 +0000') | date:'MMM d, y h:mm a'}}.

Tax Deductible

Quiet Water Society is a Registered 501(c)(3), Tax ID 26-0810474.

A City of Adventures

"Gone Fishin'..." It's a sign we've seen in windows of Barber Shops and Corner Stores for years. It means we've locked up and headed off to do something we love. A little sign that says so much about our need to fill our lungs with fresh air, to stretch, to laugh, to simply get out and play.

Luckily there's an entire city dedicated to those little signs. With rivers and streams running through our city begging you to hang up "Gone Swimming", "Gone Camping", "Gone Kayaking", "Gone Fishing", "Gone Biking", "Gone Golfing", "Gone Rock Skipping", "Gone Hiking", and "Gone Wandering" signs.

It's too easy to get caught up wading through meetings and scaling mountains of paperwork, it's time to play a little hookie. Meet you on the playground of Eaton Rapids Parks...the Island Way of Life!

The Return the Rapids Project

The scope of the project is to replace the top half of the existing West Low-Head Dam in Eaton Rapids on the Grand River with a step pool fish ramp and canoe/kayak river rapids element at suitable river flows.

Planning for the Return the Rapids project began in 2009 with the creation of a River Recreation masterplan. Together with Hamlin Township and Eaton Rapids Township, the City of Eaton Rapids began to examine the feasibility of removing and reengineering the West Low-Head Dam along the Grand River in an attempt to create river access points and enhanced fishing and water based activities. Beginner classes in whitewater paddling consisting of eddying, lining, poling upstream, ferrying across current and the Eskimo Roll can be taught in the rapids channel and step pools. The fish migration openings will allow for the migration of species up stream, further enhancing the fishing opportunities and create guided fishing tours and with recreational land based casting, with an emphasis on fly fishing and canoe/kayak based fishing excursions.

This project has in place, the required DEQ Permits, which are set to expire in 2019, and an anticipated construction phase of Summer 2016. 

This “shovel ready” project has been embraced by the community and regional canoe/kayak and fishing enthusiasts alike. Partnerships have been established with Sandy Verry, the leading consultant and former Chief River Hydrologist for the US Forestry Service who designed the rapids course. Nearly 2,000 tons of boulders, with a retail value of $104,000 was donated to the project by Starr Farms in Olivet, and delivered to the City through the generous donation of Crandell Brothers Trucking. 

With a total project cost of $300,000, the remaining funds needed are $100,000 to complete the project. The square footage of the project will be 33,280, sq ft (128" X 260"). This also translates into 755 cu. yds. of bottom spoils/dredge materials that will be removed to deepen the channel.

The Impact on Our Community

Each weekend throughout the season, Eaton Rapids plays host to several dozen, if not hundreds, of kayakers and canoe aficionados looking to enjoy the beautiful Grand River. The trek from Eaton Rapids to Lansing is a beautiful, scenic trip and makes for the perfect weekend getaway. Enjoying nature and the river especially, is at the Heart of this Great City. The river is our greatest asset, and what better way to make a serious impact on the Quality of Life and tourism aspects than making access to the river easier, and adding elements that can be enjoyed by all.

In addition to the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and increased tourism, removing the dam will eliminate a safety hazard, caused by the hydraulics of the dam structure. Referred to as the "Drowning Machine", by the International Association of Fire Fighters. Eaton Rapids has experienced loss of life and numerous close calls over the years. Given the increased use of the river, now is the time to address this risk to users.  

Removal of the dam is also a major step in improving the health and life of the river. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division studies have concluded that the 228 dams in the Grand River watershed have a negative impact on the river ecosystem. Removal will improve the water quality both upstream and downstream.

Removal of the West Low-Head dam is the first step in a River Master Plan that includes similar, but larger projects at the State Street and Smithville dams. These projects would expand the benefits achieved by this project, exponentially. 

This project also promotes the elements of the River Master Plan dealing with the creation of an Activity Center at the Mill Street Landing. This area has been identified as a passive recreational area and plans have been developed that include river frontage access, fishing piers, picnicking, horseshoe pits, and other concepts that will provide access to the natural resource. 

NOW IS THE TIME! Assistance with installation is available for the Summer of 2016.  We also risk losing our engineer, a leading consultant who designed the project.  After 5 years of planning, studies, designing and donations of cash, time and materials this project is ready to become a reality.  Your contribution will help us achieve our goal and qualify for the MEDC/MSHDA match.  Please consider a donation (tax-deductible) today.  

You may mail checks - made out to the QUIET WATER SOCIETY, with "Return the Rapids" in the note, to Quiet Water Society at:

Quiet Water Society, P.O. Box 27412, Lansing, MI 48909-7412.  

Please note:  Checks must me received and processed prior to the end of the campaign, Friday December 18, 2015.  

This project is a collaborative effort between the Quiet Water Society, City of Eaton Rapids and the Eaton Rapids Paddle Club-RRER (aka RETURN THE RAPIDS TO EATON RAPIDS committee)

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Give $25 or more

8 claimed

Class 1 Rapids - Easy

Donors will have their name listed in a final news article at the Campaign conclusion.

Give $100 or more

25 claimed

Class 2 Rapids - Novice

Donors will have their name engraved on a plaque located near the rapids

Give $250 or more

10 of 100 claimed

Class 3 Rapids - Intermediate

Donors will have their name engraved on a plaque located near the rapids. Additionally, donors will receive a custom engraved mini-paddle.

Give $500 or more

11 claimed

Class 4 Rapids - Advanced

Donors will have their name engraved on a plaque located near the rapids. Additionally, donors will receive a custom engraved mini-paddle and an invitation to the Ribbon Cutting ceremony

Give $1000 or more

6 claimed

Class 5 Rapids - Expert

Donors will have their name engraved on a plaque located near the rapids. Additionally, donors will receive a personalized 8X10 photo of the rapids and an invitation to the Ribbon Cutting ceremony.

Give $2500 or more

6 claimed

Class 6 Rapids - Extreme

Donors will have their name engraved on a plaque located near the rapids. Additionally, donors will receive a personalized 16X20 photo of the rapids and an invitation to the Ribbon Cutting ceremony.


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