Refuge Gateway - Site #32

Trenton, Michigan


Project Goals and Objectives: Restore emergent and submergent wetlands, restore a more natural shoreline using soft shoreline engineering techniques, recreate emergent wetlands, and promote coastal wetland educational and outreach

Project Description: The 44-acre Refuge Gateway is located on the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan. It is a brownfield site that is being restored as the Refuge Gateway. Immediately adjacent to the Refuge Gateway is Humbug Marsh – the last mile of natural shoreline on the U.S. mainland of the Detroit River. Humbug Marsh is Michigan's only wetlands of international significance designated under the Ramsar Convention. It is truly unique with an old growth oak-hickory forest with oak trees nearly six foot in diameter. Humbug Marsh also is a spawning and nursery grounds for yellow perch, a critical staging area for waterfowl, and a nationally recognized area for hawk migrations. In addition Humbug Marsh has threatened species like the eastern fox snake, special concern dragonfly species like russet-tipped clubtails and elusive clubtails, threatened bird species like osprey and red-shouldered hawk, and, of course, our national symbol – the bald eagle.

Over 50 years ago the entire Refuge Gateway shoreline of the Trenton Channel was filled to accommodate the industrial development of the site, destroying many coastal wetlands. This project is recreating a more natural shoreline at the Refuge Gateway from upland habitats through shrub-scrub, emergent wetlands, submergent wetlands, and transitioning out to paulstrine habitats. Small "hummocks" (i.e., small ridges of land that aid in protecting coastal wetlands from wave action and help with establishment of emergent and submergent vegetation) and small islands will be constructed to help restore and protect coastal wetlands. In total, 18 acres of wetlands and 26 acres of prairie/buffer habitats will be restored at the Refuge Gateway. This represents a net gain in wetlands in an area that has lost 97% of its coastal wetlands to development. By restoring these coastal wetlands and adjacent buffer habitats, the ecological buffer is being improved for Humbug Marsh. See the drawing above of the coastal wetland restoration at the Refuge Gateway.

Cost: $850,000

Timeframe: 2010-2011

Partners: Wayne County, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Energy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Downriver Community Conference, Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, JFNew, and Hamilton Anderson Associates.

Ecological Effectiveness: No post-project monitoring to date.

Restoration Contact: Allison Krueger of Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge at