Michigan Volunteer River,
Stream and Creek Cleanup Program

Program Description and Administration

VRSCCP-Photo-cleanup1The Michigan Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Grant Program (VRSCCP) began in 1998. This program provides small grants to local units of government to help implement volunteer cleanup efforts of rivers, streams and creeks to improve the waters in Michigan. Funds are specifically to pay for the cleanup and removal of trash and debris from rivers and streams and along their banks. Grant funds awarded under the program can pay for such items as disposal costs, hand tools, supplies, refreshments, and other volunteer appreciation materials for volunteers. Local units of government are eligible to apply for and receive funding and may, in turn, work with nonprofit organizations and grassroots groups to conduct the actual cleanup efforts.

Funding is provided from citizen donations collected through fees associated with the sale of Michigan’s Water Quality Protection License Plates under Public Act 74 of 2000. By law, these funds are to be used for water quality protection in Michigan Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers, and streams.

The VRSCCP is managed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and is administered under contract by the Great Lakes Commission (GLC). The DEQ works cooperatively with the GLC staff, providing overall direction for the program. The DEQ makes the final grant award decisions under the VRSCCP. Additionally, DEQ staff provides advice and assistance to volunteers on technical issues and considerations for the proposed projects.
NEW Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Program Factsheet

Funding Process and Awarding of Grants

VRSCCP-Photo-home-cleanup2NEW The 2017 Grant Application Package (GAP) to apply for a 2017 VRSCCP grant is now available. Please visit the program’s online application page to download the GAP and submit your application.

The application deadline is Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 5:00 PM EST. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Annually (typically around mid-January), a Grant Application Package (GAP) is issued for the VRSCCP Grants. Information contained in the GAP is based on existing DEQ guidance, and indicates the total amount of funding available for a given fiscal year. Currently a total of $25,000 is available annually for cleanup grants.

Upon receipt of grant applications, the GLC, in conjunction with DEQ administrative staff, review and assess the merits of each proposed project. After funding decisions are made, the GLC requests a final workplan from each grantee. Upon approval of the workplan, the contract letter is sent to the grantee indicating the amount of the grant award and the terms of agreement between the grantee and the GLC for implementation of the project. The DEQ and the GLC reserve the right to remove parts of proposed projects which do not meet the program criteria as specified in the GAP, or which otherwise might impair water quality.

Cleanup projects can occur anytime after the award of the grant, but must be completed before the end of that year’s specific project completion deadline. Final reports are due within 30 days of project completion date. Communities are strongly encouraged to continue these volunteer projects in subsequent years. Many communities have expressed that their volunteers develop a clearer sense of what a watershed is, a connection to their watershed and a greater understanding of how their individual actions can help or cause harm to their watershed, and a sense of “pride of place and community.”

Sixteen projects were awarded stream cleanup grants for FY 2016. For further information on these grants, please visit www.glc.org/projects/water-quality/streamclean/sc-grants.


The Friends of the Shiawassee River, in partnership with the Shiawassee County Health Department (a 2014 VRSCCP grant recipient) and others, produced a video of their annual Shiawassee River cleanup in 2014. We thank them for sharing this video with us and hope that it may inspire others to take the steps to plan and host similar volunteer cleanup events in communities around our state. Please enjoy!


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