Two Detroit area rivers get aid to restore habitats

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Two major waterways in the Detroit-area will see an infusion of federal funding to help restore natural habitats — efforts that may help remove the two rivers from a federal list of environmental Areas of Concern.

Friends of the Detroit River will receive more than $415,000 for habitat work, and the River Rouge will take in $350,000 through the Alliance of Rouge Communities.

Areas of Concern are locations throughout the Great Lakes region where historical environmental contamination has done serious damage to ecosystems. Michigan has 12 such areas, including the Detroit and Rouge rivers.

Two areas, White Lake and Deer Lake, have been removed from the list in recent years, but only after decades of restoration work.

“Our lakes and waterways are part of who we are and our way of life,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, in a Friday statement. “These investments will help protect and restore critical fish and wildlife habitats and make sure our waters remain clean and healthy for generations to come.”

Work on the Detroit River will include restoration at Stony Island creating 50 acres of habitat in one of the most important spawning areas for western Lake Erie. Rouge River work will include planning for a fish passage at the Henry Ford Estate Dam.

“Michigan’s economic strength depends on the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem, including our multibillion-dollar fishing, boating and outdoor recreation industries,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “This funding will invest in critical habitat restoration projects in the Detroit River and Rouge River, helping fish and wildlife thrive in Southeast Michigan’s waterways.”

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