By Mikaylah Heffernan, MUCC Resource Policy Assistant
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters announced recently that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is awarding $4.8 million to restore habitats along the Detroit River, part of the Friends of the Detroit River Stony Island Habitat Restoration Project.
The award will go to Friends of the Detroit River, a nonprofit citizen action group, to help complete more acreage of habitat restoration than any previous restoration effort. Stony Island is located in an area that is referred to as the Detroit River Area of Concern. This area of the river serves as an important spawning places in western Lake Erie. Ensuring the health and sustainability of habitats around Stony Island will allow fish and wildlife to flourish once again, making the Detroit River a destination for anglers and all who enjoy Michigan’s natural beauty.
This project will focus on invasive species removal alongside the habitat restoration and conservation. An earlier program along the river, funded by the EPA and run by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Friends of the Detroit River, focused on invasive species removal. Completed in January of 2016, this project completed a comprehensive aquatic invasive species control and outreach program on Belle Isle, which is a historic island park and significant recreation area in the Detroit River. The plan was designed to protect the island’s diverse ecosystem and the completed habitat restoration projects funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. In its first year, the program had already resulted in the removal of over fifty-three acres of invasive species from the area.
The health of Belle Isle, Stony Island, and the Detroit River is important to the well-being of Michigan’s natural resources and waterways, and all three are favored fishing sites for those in the city or nearby. Grants and programs like this will help to support, strengthen, and sustain healthy habitats, so that fish and wildlife can flourish once again, making the Detroit River and all our waterways, a top destination for all who enjoy Michigan’s natural beauty.