Friends of the Rouge Watershed (FRW) was formed in 1991 by Cathy Gregorio and other volunteers to continue the community awareness and involvement work that led to the March 26, 1990, announcement of the creation of Rouge Park.
The founding members of FRW were originally involved with issues surrounding the Rouge through Lois James and Save the Rouge Valley System (SRVS). These long-time Rouge volunteers contributed to the:
· Struggle to protect Rouge parklands from landfills, highways and urban sprawl
· Development and mapping of the Rouge Park vision between 1987 and 1990
· Nurturing of overwhelming community and political support necessary for Rouge Park
· Initial announcement of Rouge Park on March 26, 1990
· Federal and provincial investments of more than $30 million in Rouge Park
FRW contributed regularly to the development of the Rouge Park Management Plan, from 1990 to 1993, with input from people such as Kevin O'Connor, Rosita Pollock, Neera Shukla, Linda Beckett, Cathy Gregorio, Jim Robb, Chris Evans, Marg Shanks, Gay Cowbourne, Rob Saftich, Dianne Ross and many others.
Between 1993 and 1996, FRW organized a number of volunteer community tree plantings and awareness events with Rouge Park, Youth Assisting Youth, Councilor Raymond Cho, the Toronto Zoo, the City of Scarborough, the Town of Markham, and the Rouge Conservation Centre. It wasn't until 1997, when FRW received grants from Rouge Park and the federal government, that the group was able to hire staff for the first time. With full-time staff, FRW has been able to expand its volunteer coordination and ecological restoration and conservation work.
FRW has also been able to provide research, expertise and local knowledge to influence a number of strategic planning initiatives, including:
· The commencement of an ecosystem-based Rouge watershed and water budget strategy (2003)
· The Rouge North Management Plan and implementing official plan amendment (1997-2003)
· Vegetation restoration and management strategy for Rouge Park
· An invasive species inventory and preliminary control strategy
· The Rouge Duffins Greenspace Link from the Lake to the Moraine