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TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010

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Front-line cancer trials coming here “I’m so excited that (Grand Rapids) has this opportunity because ... I wouldn’t want my daughter to go through this. I wouldn’t want other people to go through this.” — Elly DeBoer

locally will benefit West Michigan patients first. “It would be a tragedy if the invention is made here and it’s first introduced in Boston or somewhere else,” said MORE BY KYLA KING Dr. Mark Campbell, whose group of 16 THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS  What is a oncologists oversee Phase 1 trial? A2 GRAND RAPIDS — The Van Andel the treatment of 3,100  Meet the Institute, Spectrum Health and Can- newly diagnosed paprogram director, cer & Hematology Centers of Western tients each year at A2 Michigan have teamed up to bring Spectrum alone. Phase 1 first-in-human, anti-cancer “It is truly ‘Hope drug trials to Grand Rapids. on the Hill’ in trying The multimillion-dollar undertak- to offer people who have run out of ing means cancer patients who ex- conventional options the hope they haust conventional treatment options so desperately want,” said Campbell, may no longer have to travel to par- referencing the institute’s annual ticipate in studies that could prolong fundraising event on the Michigan their lives. The long-term goal: The Street NE hill. Those are patients like Grand Rapendeavor will attract top researchers, physicians and drug companies ids resident Elly DeBoer, who has an looking to partner so drugs developed SEE TRIALS, A2

Long-term goal is to attract researchers, drug developers

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PRESS PHOTO/EMILY ZOLADZ

One fewer option: Elly DeBoer, of Grand Rapids, dropped out of a Phase 1 clinical trial for treatment of her breast cancer because the drive to Detroit was a drain on her and her family.

MURKY FUTURE

WILL GRAND RIVER GET HEALTHIER, OR WILL 2020 EXPEDITION BE SPENT SWATTING ASIAN CARP?

BY JEFF ALEXANDER THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

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t least once every summer, when balmy weather creates ideal conditions for being on the water, Bobbi Sabine likes to hop in her kayak and visit friends who live along the Grand River — without setting foot on pavement. Sabine said there is something special about paddling to see friends who live along a historically significant waterway that has been transformed from industrial cesspool to recreational gem over the past four decades. But Sabine is worried that Asian carp, which are on the verge of invading Lake Michigan through artificial canals in the Chicago area, will someday make boating or water skiing on the Grand River and its numerous bayous a dangerous proposition. “I’m concerned about Asian carp — I think they’re terrifying,” said Sabine, a Grand Haven-based environmental consultant. “If Asian carp get into the Grand River, I would think twice about going out on the river.” Biologists who have monitored the Asian carp’s steady migration toward the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River system said Sabine’s concerns are warranted. The Grand River Expedition 2010 ended Monday, leaving those who love and study the state’s longest river to ponder its future. Asian carp are

THE GRAND TOUR DISCOVERING OUR GRAND RIVER Today’s installment looks at the conclusion of the Grand River Expedition 2010. Inside:  Cheers and goodbyes as journey ends, A8  Members of the expedition reflect on the trip, A8  Photos show the arrival in Grand Haven, A9

©2010, The Grand Rapids Press

River landmark: Grand River Expedition participants paddle under the U.S. 31 drawbridge on the final leg of their two-week journey from the headwaters near Jackson to Lake Michigan at Grand Haven.

viewed as one of its biggest threats and something that could have the greatest effect on the Grand by the time 2020 — and the next expedition — arrives. Many experts believe Asian carp, some of which rocket out of the water when disturbed by the sound of boat motors, will eventually colonize parts of the Great Lakes and rivers like the Grand. “If there was one river in Michigan where Asian carp could establish reproducing populations, it would probably be the Grand River,” said Dan O’Keefe, a Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator in Grand Haven. “In terms of the whole Great Lakes ecosystem, the Grand River is probably the worst case scenario in terms of being suitable for Asian carp.” The U.S. Geological Survey has listed the Grand River among 22 Great Lakes tributaries that are most likely to be colonized by Asian carp. With its warm and turbid water, a long stretch of which is free-flowing, numerous bayous and abundant plankton, the Grand River offers

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 Video of Monday’s final journey plus all the stories and photos from the series at mlive.com/grandriver ideal habitat for Asian carp, said John Trimberger, a retired state fisheries biologist who supervised fish management efforts in West Michigan for 29 years. “Asian carp would do well in the Grand River,” Trimberger said. “It is also my opinion that their presence would deplete existing gamefish populations similar to what has happened in other river systems where they have established themselves.” Asian carp account for 90 percent of all fish in some sections of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Trimberger said Asian carp would hurt several native fish species in the Grand River: walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, northern

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SEE RIVER, A8

A trip to remember: Grand River Expedition paddlers Diane Ward and John McCubbin congratulate each other Monday upon completion of the two-week journey at Grand Haven’s Chinook Pier.

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TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010

THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

A warm welcome, then farewells BY HOWARD MEYERSON THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

PRESS PHOTOS/MARK COPIER

Reviewing the route: Grand River Expedition participants trace their journey on the inlaid brass map of the Grand River system at the William Ferry Landing in downtown Grand Haven on Monday.

Her own tribute: Project Lakewell director Lynn Johnson, wearing traditional 18th century clothing of the Ojibwa, looks over the Grand River before heading out on the last leg of the Grand River Expedition from Riverside Park in Ottawa County to Grand Haven on Monday.

“If you set a goal, 225 miles, and have people to push you along, anything is achievable,” said Jan Wanetick, of Southfield, during a pass-the-tripper’s-

RIVER MANY THREATS COME FROM THE LAND

hat ritual at lunch where each person got a chance to express something. “I’ve developed a whole new community of kayaking friends.”

Here is a summary of the most serious threats to the Grand River, now and in the near future, and what CONTINUED FROM A1 individuals, communities and pike and several varieties of panfish. businesses can do to protect and Experts fear Asian carp — which restore the river. hog fish food, breed like mosquitoes and usually dominate the ecosystems they colonize — could devastate the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery and hurt the region’s $16 billion recreational fishery. An Asian bighead carp was found in the Chicago Waterway System last month, six miles from Lake Michigan. Asian carp DNA also has been found in canals near Chicago that are linked to Lake Michigan, miles beyond an electric barrier that was supposed to keep the fish from reaching the Great Lakes. Federal agencies and the state of Illinois are trying to keep hordes of Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan via the Chicago canals. The state of Michigan and four other Great Lakes states filed a federal lawsuit last week in an attempt to force the closure of locks in the Chicago Waterway System to halt the Asian carp migration. O’Keefe said he doesn’t believe an Asian carp invasion of the Grand River is inevitable. But he said history is not on the river’s side. In the 1950s, gizzard shad spread from the Mississippi River system, through the Chicago Waterway System, into Lake Michigan and into the Grand River. Gizzard shad, which are native to the Mississippi River but not Lake Michigan, thrive in the same types of rivers favored by Asian carp, O’Keefe said.

Afternoon: The trip to Grand Haven went without a hitch. The group stayed close together, and many said their goodbyes. At 2:15 p.m. the group approached Mill Point, where it was greeted by a boat horn toot, which drew yet another big cheer from the paddlers. Passing under the U.S. 31 drawbridge, the group drew still closer together. The end was near. It was 3 p.m. on the dot when the flotilla arrived at the Grand Haven docks. Paddlers were met by a crowd of onlookers and enthusiasts cheering. Once out of their boats, they were greeted by Grand Haven Mayor Roger Bergman, who spoke of the success of the expedition and the need to continue working on the river’s non-point pollution problems. Doug Carter, the expedition chairman, announced that 340 people had participated in the 13-day event. He said volunteer testing of the river waters showed “there were no major problems.” “It is a healthy river,” Carter said to applause. It was what people had come to find out.

TRACKING THE STORY Act now for a healthy river

THREATS

 Manure and other pollutants flowing off farm fields when it rains causes bacterial pollution, which degrades water quality, harms wildlife and threatens human health.  Leaky septic tanks contaminate the river and its tributaries with fecal matter and dangerous pathogens.  Sewage overflows in Lansing — and, to a much lesser extent, Grand Rapids — foul the river with bacterial pollution that threatens human health and can force beach closures.  Poorly planned development, which can damage or destroy wetlands along the river and its tributaries. Wetlands provide critical habitat for wildlife, reduce flooding and filter pollutants out of water flowing toward the river.  If Asian carp colonize the Grand

PRESS FILE PHOTO

Fight runoff: Green roofs, such as this on on The Rapid Central Station, keep polluted water out of the watershed.

River, the invaders could harm bass, walleye and other native fish species in the river and its tributaries. The Asian silver carp, which leaps out of the water when disturbed by the sound of boat motors, could disrupt boating in the river and its numerous bayous, including Spring Lake.

SOLUTIONS

 Plant trees. Trees capture storm water and reduce harmful runoff, provide a cooling effect for rivers and absorb carbon dioxide, the main culprit in global warming.

University researchers. “The loss of wetlands has a huge  Solutions to nonpoint source pollution: epa. impact on ecosystem function,” said John Koches, an associate research gov/nps scientist at GVSU. “Wetlands store  Asian carp control efforts: asiancarp.org flood waters, provide habitat for fish and birds, control sediment and nutrient transport and provide stream land that drains into the river and its shading.” tributaries, said Rita Chapman, clean Koches praised the Ottawa County water program director for the Sierra Parks and Recreation Commission’s Club’s Michigan chapter. Grand River Greenway Initiative, Problems from the shore “When you think about restoring which enabled the county to buy 11 Asian carp aren’t the only serious a river, you’d better think about what miles of riverfront property since threat to the Grand River system. happens on land,” Chapman said, “be- 1996. Many of the parcels the county Poorly planned urban growth that cause 95 percent of most watersheds purchased feature large wetlands, destroys wetlands and polluted storm is land.” which act as kidneys for rivers, filwater runoff from farms and cities About half of all wetlands in the tering the water. are the most vexing problems facing Grand River watershed have been deAcquiring land along the river to the river now and in the near future, stroyed since European immigrants preserve wetlands and improve public according to several scientists and arrived in the region in the early access to the water has increased fish1800s and began turning wetlands ing, boating, canoeing and kayaking government officials. The battle to further restore and into farmland and buildable lands for in the lower Grand River, said John protect the river will be won or lost homes and businesses, according to Scholtz, director of the Ottawa County on the roughly 5,000 square miles of data compiled by Grand Valley State Parks and Recreation Commission.

CONNECT

v

Voices from the river They paddled every day of Grand River Expedition 2010, saw the highs and lows, the beauty and the challenges. And along the way, they learned a lot about themselves and each other.

EXPEDITION MEMBERS RETURN HOME WITH HAPPY MEMORIES Day 12 Nunica to Grand Haven - 13.7 miles, 5.5 hours. Home stretch goodbyes. Morning: There is a lot to be said for having a sheriff’s marine escort. That’s what the Grand River Expedition got all the way into Grand Haven today. But this last day carried with it a special cachet; it was about far more than whether the river was clean, far more than whether jet skis and motorboats gave us wide berth. For the members, it was a day where the strength of the bonds they had formed was palpable in every way. Breakfast at Riverside County Park was celebrated with a birthday song for Gloria Miller, of Wacousta, who was celebrating her 85th birthday, as she had her 75th and 65th on prior expeditions. She graciously thanked expedition members for all their help, whether setting up or taking down her tent or towing her in the canoe downriver on the occasion it was needed. “We love you, Gloria,” someone shouted to applause. It was a day of laughter, song and cheer on the water, punctuated by regular paddler salutes where canoe and kayak paddles were banged on boat gunwales twice and held high. Expedition members were advised they would need to travel as a group down the last leg of their journey rather than spread out as they had. A sheriff’s patrol boat would lead with blue lights blazing — a warning to powerboats to slow and not create a wake. An Annis Water Resources Institute pontoon boat also would flank the group all the way down river. It was a sunny day with calm conditions. The group had easy paddling with no obstructions. There was little boat traffic on the river. I floated for awhile with Karl Geisel, of Grand Rapids, an avid paddler who had come out for the day. Geisel had wanted to do the 2000 Grand River Expedition, but life had gotten in the way. “Now I have two kids at home, and it wasn’t working out again,” he said. “So joining on the last day seemed like a good day to do it. I wanted to come and support the expedition.” Lunch at Deer Creek Park offered the group another opportunity to share the significance of the trip, one that had been full of challenge and called on each participant’s personal resources.

YOU SAID IT

 Disconnect downspouts or install a rain barrel to capture storm water runoff from roofs.  Protect wetlands, which reduce flooding, provide wildlife habitat and filter pollutants.  Inspect and service septic tanks.  Replace concrete and asphalt surfaces with gravel, pavers or other porous materials that allow storm water to naturally soak into the ground.  Pick up pet feces, which can foul surface waters with fecal bacteria.  Reduce the use of lawn fertilizers and herbicides, which can harm fish and other aquatic life in the river.  Conserve water.  Install rain gardens to trap and filter storm water before it flows into the river.  Plant vegetated roofs to reduce runoff and lower air temperatures in urban areas.  Remember that anything dumped on land eventually will end up in the nearest river, lake or stream. SOURCES: Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Grand Valley State University, Grand Valley Metro Council, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“From my perspective, it looks like the river is being rediscovered,” Scholtz said. Scholtz said the river is far more appealing than it was in the 1960s when, as a young boy growing up in Spring Lake, he and his friends would swim across the lower Grand and spear common carp. An Asian carp invasion could deliver a devastating setback to efforts to heal the Grand River and restore its tarnished image, Scholtz said. Sabine said she fears the federal government isn’t moving quickly enough to prevent the Asian carp from colonizing the Great Lakes and the rivers that help sustain the lakes. “So many people have worked so hard over the last couple of decades to restore the Grand River,” Sabine said. “The whole idea of having these Asian carp come in and disrupt everything is really heartbreaking.”

Larry Luce, Monica Day: Newlyweds from Onondaga on honeymoon. Monica fractured her wrist while launching at Ada. Larry: “I was really hit by the bonding of the group, individuals who are diverse and would not normally have anything to do with each other outside of this. They came together. There was no grumbling. I liked all the camaraderie and love we experienced, not just toward us, but from everybody toward everybody else. It was just nice.” Monica: “I was anticipating the physical aspect to be most intimidating, the paddling. It was more than we had ever done before. But it’s been much more comfortable that I expected. When I fell, we were concerned that we were going to have to go home, so we were totally thrilled when people welcomed us and said she (Monica) will come down in Gabby (the Project Lakewell replica birch bark canoe) and he can paddle Mike Smith’s boat.” John McCubbin, Fenton: “This trip was beyond my expectation. I didn’t know a soul on it and just joined it when I heard about the opportunity. It’s been an awesome experience — the melding of the people, paddling all that distance and seeing the small towns and meeting the people along the way. The river is like a liquid highway.” Mike Smith, Portland: “This is my third time doing the expedition. Everything was very well organized. I think it went very well. It’s no harder than in 1990. I do a lot of paddling. The weather does leave a lasting impression. If the weather goes smooth all the time, it takes away from having a lasting experience.” Donovan Harper, Grand Rapids: “It has been a just wonderful trip. I waited seven years for this. The last one happened three years before I started paddling. I had wanted to go on this as an adventure and personal challenge, but it has turned out to be so much more than that. I met wonderful people. And getting out and seeing so much of God’s beautiful creation, the ledges at Grand Ledge, the eagles and ospreys, herons and kingfishers has just been so much more than I expected. The first day was way more difficult than I expected, but everyone worked together to get everyone through. Starting out, I wondered if I was up to the long days, day after day, but it wasn’t beyond what I was ready for.” Kathy Kulchinski, Jackson: “There are some incredible, amazing women on this trip that make me feel inadequate because they are kicking my behind — little old ladies that are keepin’ on keepin’ on. If they can do it, I can. I was amazed at the older women. I found the trip easier than I thought. ... Anyone can do it if they take the time to work it out.” Ken Sarkozy, Kalamazoo: “It was wonderful, even the first day when we had a whole lot of obstacles and rain...I’d heard about the trip more than a year ago from visiting the Verlen Kruger booth at the Quiet Water Symposium in East Lansing. Absolutely, I would go again. I will be 77 when I do.”


THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010

Ready to start: Grand River Expedition participants gather for the final leg of their journey to Grand Haven off Ottawa County’s Riverside Park Monday morning.

Connection to history: Grand River Expedition paddlers clear the U.S. 31 bridge Monday. Members of Project Lakewell, center, are dressed in costumes depicting historic figures.

Haven on the Grand

PRESS PHOTOS/MARK COPIER

Official escort: A United States Coast Guard motor lifeboat stationed in Grand Haven greets the Grand River Expedition members as they clear the U.S. 31 bridge and head for their destination at Chinook Pier on Monday afternoon.

After it all — the sun, the rain, the exquisite peacefulness, the loud motorboats, the dams, the portages, the cows in the river and the birds of prey overhead, the grand ledges and the narrow urban sluiceway — a town with a moniker that invokes a kind of sanctuary awaited the Grand River Expedition’s final journey. As the last waters heading into Lake Michigan beckoned, escorts including the U.S. Coast Guard helped these modernday explorers reach their end point. And true to the float’s experience, volunteers, this time Boy Scouts, were on hand to help paddlers as they got out of their boats one last time.

Wrapping up the trip: Above, paddlers reach their destination in Grand Haven on Monday afternoon. At left, Boy Scouts help Grand River Expedition members, including 85-year-old Gloria Miller, pull out their kayaks and canoes.

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