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Large view calendar: Here



TRC Meetings

Agendas and Minutes



Become a

TRC Contact

Stay infomed of Watersheds issues and events


Useful Links


Agencies & Organizations


 24-Hour Pollution Hotlines

Play a part in keeping our lakes, streams and rivers clean.

Report Activities That Are Causing Water Pollution!


Septic Systems 

How they work (video)

How to maintain (info)


Fracking in Michigan

Presentation Slides

Speaker Contact Info


Garlic Mustard

A major threat to our woodlands!

Identification and Control



Keep our water clean!

Use Phosphourous Free Fertilizers


Paw Paw River Odyssey 2010

Enjoy Kevin Haight's chronicle of his paddle from the Paw Paw Maple Lake Dam to the confluence with the St Joe River - 66 river miles!

Two Rivers Coalition


Welcome! Explore and discover the Black and          ..

Find TRC on FacebookPaw Paw River Watersheds with us!


  Click Map for larger image 


Learn what you can do to help protect and improve the wonderful resources in these watersheds. Learn about the Two Rivers Coalition, Inc., a citizen based group working to protect the health of the Black River and Paw Paw River Watersheds through conservation, education, and advocacy.

Our goal is to be your source of information about the Black and Paw Paw River Watersheds here in Southwest Michigan.  We hope our web site will provide you with accurate and thought provoking information about these watersheds and the community we live in.  We believe that an informed and engaged community is the key to making this one of the best places to live and play. Please look around and let us know if there is information that you would like for us to include on our web site. Looking for a specific topic?  Try Search at the top of the page.

The Black and Paw Paw Rivers drain lands in Allegan, Berrien, Kalamazoo and Van Buren Counties.  The Black River flows into Lake Michigan at South Haven.  In Benton Harbor, the Paw Paw River flows into the St. Joseph River which then flows a short distance to Lake Michigan.  Some say that the St. Joseph River is actually the Great South Branch of the Paw Paw River.


    Did You Miss It?  TRC Annual Meeting: 

                  2015 Year In Review 

                              Click to View




 The Most Important Election You Haven’t Heard About, Or, an Honest-to -Goodness Chance to Actually Vote for the Environment

If you care about the environment and live in Van Buren County, the most important election this year is not in November. Instead, on Tuesday, August 2nd, voters in Van Buren County will get a unique opportunity to vote for their local environment. On the ballot that day is a small millage request by the Van Buren Conservation District (VBCD). Normally, a millage request might not get nature lovers very excited but this one is different because it is absolutely the best chance environmentalists have had in a long time to maximize their bang-for-the-buck at the local level.

Recently, the Board of Directors of Two Rivers Coalition (TRC) voted to endorse the millage request by the VBCD. Some people might wonder why a local environmental group focused on water quality is taking this action. The answer is actually very simple. Even though we live in a representative democracy, when was the last time any of us actually had the opportunity to vote on an environmental proposal?  Maybe it was the bottle ban bill back in the 1970’s. For environmentalists, the only vote we usually get to cast is between the lesser of two evils, in the forlorn hope that the victorious candidate might vote the way we want if an environmental issue arises. All too often, when an issue of clean water or clean air does come up, all we can do is contact our legislators and remind them that the environment matters. That is what is so amazing about the upcoming election in Van Buren County on Tuesday, August 2nd; voters in this county will actually get the chance to vote on something that should have a real and immediate impact on our local land, air and water resources.

For many years, Van Buren Conservation District (VBCD) has been at the forefront of conservation efforts here in the county to protect our environment and help create a more sustainable agriculture. The programs that VBCD is involved in are too numerous to list completely but include:

  • Household hazardous waste collection/recycling
  • Education about agricultural best management practice,  such as no-till, cover crops, and buffer strips
  • MI Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP)
  • Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program
  • Road Culvert/Stream Crossing Survey Program
  • Invasive Species Awareness and Control
  • Inland Lake Protection
  • River Rescue-River/Stream Trash Clean-up

TRC has partnered with VBCD on some of these programs and provided volunteers for the River Rescue, Stream Monitoring and Stream Crossing Survey programs. Therefore, TRC has experienced firsthand the expertise, professionalism, and dedication of the VBCD staff. It is not an overstatement to say that every resident of the county has benefitted in some way from these conservation programs.  But did you know that we don’t actually pay for the vast majority of these programs and services? Except for the hazardous waste collection/recycling program, VBCD has struggled for years to run all the other programs (and several more) without being supported by local tax dollars. For far too long, VBCD has been forced to rely on grants from private, state, and federal sources to fund these programs. The bad thing about grants is that they are not permanent; most only last 2 to 3 years then they are gone. When the grant runs out or a particular government program ends, VBCD staff and programs are in jeopardy. Just a few years ago, VBCD lost an employee when a state program suddenly ceased being funded. This means that the employees of VBCD not only have to do the conservation work we depend on them for, but are also constantly searching for new grants to replace the ones about to run out. Look at it another way; instead of being able to deliver the environmental programs and services that are most needed here in our county, VBCD is limited to whatever grant programs are available coming out of Lansing or Washington, D.C..  What is even worse is that several current grants on which VBCD relies are in their final stages, which means some programs and staff members will be terminated if new funding is not secured. Wouldn’t it be much better to have a stable source of funding for our pre-eminent local environmental agency so it could focus on local problems and protecting the natural resources we have here in our county?

 Sure, you say, but what is that going to cost?  Surprisingly, providing all the above listed programs and services, plus several new ones, would cost less than six dollars per year on average. Yes, you heard me correctly, about the price of a MacDonald’s Big Mac and fries, or a Double Latte at Starbucks. VBCD is requesting a millage authorization of only one tenth of one mill. This means that for a residential property with an assessed value of $59,060 (which is the county average in 2015), the tax would be about $5.90 per year. Remember, assessed value is usually one half of market value. While no one likes taxes, we can all agree that some things are important and worth paying for. Schools, libraries, firetrucks, roads and bridges quickly come to mind. But what would you pay for clean water? How about a pristine environment where hazardous waste was cleaned up and properly disposed of?  What would you pay to preserve the beauty and natural character of rural Southwest Michigan? I am willing to bet that each and every one of you would gladly give up one Big Mac a year to make our environment a better place to live and raise a family.

 If you agree with this analysis, then first you need to make sure you are registered to vote. Do it immediately, there is a deadline of 30 days before the election. Then, make sure that you, your environmentalist friends and family members, all get to your local polling place on Tuesday August 2nd to make this millage request happen. Remember, this may be the only opportunity you have for a long, long time to actually cast a vote for the environment, so you need to make this one count.



Upcoming Events:


Protecting Your Shoreline: A Workshop for Inland Lakefront Property Owners
Cass County at Camp Friedenswald on Saturday, June 4, 2016
15406 Watercress Way, Cassopolis, MI 49031
11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (includes a short tour & light meal)
Berrien County at Sarett Nature Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016
2300 N. Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (includes a short tour & light meal)
Natural shorelines provide multiple benefits to our inland lakes. Natural shoreline landscaping and bioengineered erosion control techniques can restore those benefits by reducing runoff, deterring geese, stabilizing soils and improving fish and wildlife habitat while maintaining aesthetically pleasing access to your lake. Already have rock or sea wall? Learn how to enhance those structures for the benefit of your lake.

Workshop topics include:
Healthy lake ecosystems
Designing natural landscapes on lake shorelines
Problems with high impact landscape methods
Use of native plants in shoreline landscapes
Common inland lake Invasive species
State of Michigan rules and regulations

Cost: $50 per person, $25 for a second member of the household (who will share materials)

No refunds will be issued after the registration deadline unless the workshop is cancelled due to low enrollment. Substitutions are welcome!

Workshop hosted by Michigan State University Extension in cooperation with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership.

register visit:


July 13 - Van Buren Conservation District Farm Day/Picnic

July 24 - Do the Maple Circle! Community Paddle on Maple Lake

August 6 - River Rescue

October 2 - Fall VSMP collection event

October 15 - Black River Preserve Grand Opening/Community Paddle

December 7 - TRC Annual Meeting at Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence



The Story of Bottled Water(Click for Video)




Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program


Two Rivers Coalition and Van Buren Conservation District on being award the MiCorps Michigan Volunteer Stream Monitoring Grant for 2014.  The start-up grant was for $2,923 to establish a macroinvertebrate monitoring program along the middle section of the Paw Paw River watershed, which is a tributary to the St. Joseph River.  For more information go to Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) Program




One of the most exciting projects that Two Rivers Coalition {TRC} was involved in this year was the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program {VSMP}. TRC partnered with Van Buren Conservation District {VBCD} to apply for a start-up grant through the Michigan Clean Water Corps {MiCorps}. The goal of the program, which is funded by the Department of Environmental Quality {DEQ}, is to establish benthic macro-invertebrate sampling on streams throughout the state. Benthic macro-invertebrate sampling is just a fancy way to say catching insects that live in streams and recording the data. The presence {or absence} of certain families of insects is a surprisingly good indicator of water quality. This is because some insects {like stoneflies} will not tolerate degraded conditions. Stoneflies are considered sensitive and will only live in cold, clear, clean streams. Other insects {like the side-swimming scud} can live in almost any body of water.  Also, in keeping with the basic principle of biodiversity, the greater the variety of insect species in a river, the healthier the river eco-system is likely to be.


Read more...Volunteer Stream Monitoring Article PDF 

Interview:  Two Rivers Coalition Collecting Insects From Paw Paw River


**SUNDAY, MAY 1, 2016

Join us for the VSMP SPRING MACROINVERTEBRATE COLLECTION. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at River Park in Lawrence, MI for orientation. Teams of 3-6 people then travel to two sites in either the Black or Paw Paw River watersheds to collect insects. You will have lots of fun doing citizen science; no experience is necessary. RSVP to VB Conservation District: 269-657-4030 x5.


Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program Page


Are you into horror flicks?  Here is on that will make your blood run cold: Oil and Water


Hydraulic Fracturing or "Fracking" - TRC"s Endorsement to Ban in Michigan


Motion - August 12, 2015 Board Meeting:  TRC officially endorses petition to ban fracking in Michigan because of potential threat to ground water and surface water resources in Michigan.



The ballot summary on the circulating petition is:[8]


An initiation of legislation to prohibit the use of horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and acid completion treatments of horizontal gas and oil wells; to prohibit emission, production, storage, disposal, and processing of frack and acidizing wastes created by gas and oil well operations; to eliminate the state’s policy favoring ultimate recovery of maximum production of oil and gas; to protect water resources, land, air, climate, and public health; and to allow residents to enforce the provisions of this ballot language, by amending Public Act 451 of 1994 entitled “Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act,” by amending section 61528, 61529 and 61530.[9]


Ban fracking campaign collects signatures through November 17

CHARLEVOIX, MICH. – The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan,  a grassroots ballot initiative campaign gathering signatures for a ballot proposal to ban horizontal fracking and frack wastes, continues to collect signatures through November 17.

Circulators who mail their petitions in must do so no later than November 12. Circulators who continue to collect through November 17 must bring them in person to official campaign locations to coordinators.

Anyone seeking to sign the petition are encouraged to find locations near them on the Committee’s Events page on the website

Volunteers began collecting signatures May 22, 2015 for a six-month period to qualify for the 2016 ballot.

The Committee will hold a press conference in Lansing on November 18, in the afternoon, outside the Secretary of State Bureau of Elections office. Details to follow.

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is a ballot question committee registered with the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections.


Anti-fracking ballot effort fails to collect enough signatures, seeks more volunteers (link to article)






The Expedition

Best friends, Amy Lukas and Mary Catterlin, set out to sail the perimeter of Lake Michigan and document the experience aboard a handmade canoe. Lake Michigan has 1,638 miles of shoreline total. The trip traversed close to 1,200 of these miles. We planned to travel 10-25 miles everyday, be it sailing or paddling. And as it turns out, our daily miles ranged from 7-43 miles per day, when we were able to get on the water. It took us exactly 3 months/93 days to come full circle. Much of our progress depended on weather, waves, and delays on land. So with that in mind, we spent a quarter of a year camped on beaches, campgrounds, sleeping aboard boats, and in the homes of many new found friends. Our journey began in Beverly Shores, Indiana, the very south end of the lake. From there, we traveled westward towards the Illinois and Wisconsin border, from island to island off Door Peninsula, along Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and back down through Michigan’s coastal waters on the east side. We only packed the essential camping and boating supplies as well as some extra gear for documenting the trip to share our experience with you. Outfitted with GPS spot devices, iphones, cameras, and journals, we have been documenting the journey as well as posting constant updates as to our progress and how this experience has continually unfolded. Follow our story of traveling full circle on the lake we love most.


This page last updated on 5/25/2016.