By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – Continued efforts and funding for projects will soon add a “major addition” to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Gateway.
A $1 million agreement recently was approved between Wayne County officials and the Downriver Community Conference for the construction of a boat dock and fishing pier at the refuge. County Commissioner Joseph Palamara – who represents Trenton and Gibraltar – said in a statement the project will continue the vision of the site.
“This is a great addition to the refuge and will make the river that much more accessible to the public,” Palamara said. “The refuge has allowed nature to move back into that area and people can see it up close.”
The refuge has been a decade-plus project to restore more than 40 acres of land, property that includes the final mile of Detroit River shoreline and had – for decades – housed a Chrysler plant. The factory deactivated in 1990, and the resulting brownfield seemed destined to remain ruined land.
Instead, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established in 2001 to develop a sustainable future for the river and its bank-hugging land. A series of environmental cleanup and preservation projects followed that eventually contained nearly 6,000 acres of natural habitats, wetlands and island. Humbug Marsh became host to a Visitors Center that was dedicated in 2013.
The latest project – funded by Wayne County and a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant – will add a 775-foot dock and fishing pier capable of holding 100 people off West Jefferson near Vreeland Road.
Palamara said the pier will include seating, shaded areas and will provide a floating dock for the Michigan Sea Grant educational program boat.
The project is expected to cost nearly $3 million, with additional funding expected from public and private sources.
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is supervised by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and through partnerships with Canada, is North America’s only international refuge, host to more than 300 species of birds and more than 100 species of fish.
For information on the Refuge go to www.fws.gov.
(James Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)