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Up The Rouge!

The Rouge River running through Detroit is too polluted for recreation, yet Detroit Free Press reporter Joel Thurtell and photographer Patricia Beck decided to canoe the Rouge— most of which is too shallow or log-jammed for a motorboat -- to explore not only the river's industrial side but also its beautiful and hidden urban wilderness. Plus they wanted badly to show that the river, despite dams  and dozens of logjams, is a navigable waterway. Up the Rouge! is the surprising and educational account of their journey. Thurtell's suspenseful narrative blends with Beck's evocative photographs to render a unique tale of urban adventure.
Thurtell and Beck logged more than sixty hours during the first week of June 2005 as they paddled their canoe up more than twenty-seven miles of the Rouge from Zug Island at the Detroit River to Nine Mile and Beech roads in the suburb of Southfield. The Rouge is heavily polluted by sewage and industrial waste and large sections of the 127-mile-long river have been purposely made inaccessible to the public. Government agencies have spent $1,6 billion trying to clean it up. Thurtell and Beck show that despite its environmental contamination, the Rouge is home to wildlife and that its very seclusion makes it a sanctuary. During their trek, the authors saw green and blue herons, snapping turtles, musk turtles, mallards, feral dogs, and the first adult female common mergansers ever recorded in summertime Wayne County. Maps are included to help readers track their journey.
Up the Rouge! is a story about discovery, a tale of adventure, and an informative study of the environment. The series of articles in the Detroit Free Press on which this volume is based won the 2006 Harry E. Schlenz Medal for Achievement in Public Education from the Water Environment Federation. Anyone interested in environmental issues or conservation of Michigan's waterways will appreciate this unique and attractive volume.