Save the river, ravines and rowing

Lanthorn Editorial Board

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This week, the Student Senate passed a motion asking the university to oppose the Grand River Waterway Project. This plan would use state funding to channelize 22.5 miles of the Grand River, and proponents of the project say the increase in boat access would foster an increase in tourism.

However, many opponents say that there would be a swath of negative effects, including harmful environmental damage, and claim the limited influx of tourism would likely not counteract the taxpayer costs. In September, the Lanthorn published a Letter to the Editor from Biology Professor Eric Snyder, who passionately argued against the project.

Importantly, a portion of the land to be dredged is owned by Grand Valley, and could cause potential harm to the state of the ravines. The GVSU Rowing Team has also come out in opposition of the project, as it would allow for larger boats where their practices take place, and their boats are highly susceptible to capsizing from the wake.

Already, many townships have come out in opposition of the Grand River Waterway Project, and it is time for the university to join them and echo the Student Senate in public condemnation.

The Ravines are a staple of the Allendale campus, a beautiful, serene place for students and staff to engage in nature. Grand Valley frequently shows commitment to environmentalism and sustainability, and should not stand for the environment to be harmed right on its own property.

The GVSU Rowing Team is an important part of Grand Valley’s history. It is the longest running sport on campus, founded in 1964, seven years before the official establishment of the football team. The team is uniquely privileged to practice in the Grand River so close to the Allendale campus, and it would be tragic for them to lose that space.

The Lanthorn strongly opposes the Grand River Waterway Project. In addition to calling the university to officially come out in opposition of the project, we encourage individuals to learn more and engage in their own activism against the project.

This issue has come out at an opportune time for action, with Grand Valley’s Making Waves Initiative being highlighted by the school for the next two years. Thus far, the Initiative has involved a variety of public events and interdisciplinary studies, and there is potential for it to be used for more. By taking an official stance and engaging in community activism, students, faculty and the university administration could demonstrate a true commitment to West Michigan and the local environment.