Historical Loss and Current Rehabilitation of Shoreline Habitat along an Urban-Industrial River—Detroit River, Michigan,...Published: 15 May 2017 by MDPI in Sustainability
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the historical loss and current shoreline habitat rehabilitation efforts along the urban-industrial Detroit River using geographical information system methods and a shoreline survey. This study found a 97% loss of historical coastal wetlands to human development. By 1985, 55% of the U.S. mainland shoreline had been hardened with steel sheet piling or concrete breakwater that provide limited habitat. Since 1995, 19 projects were implemented, improving 4.93 km of shoreline habitat. A comparison of the 1985 and 2015 georeferenced aerial imagery showed that 2.32 km of soft shoreline was also converted to hard shoreline during this timeframe. Of the 19 projects surveyed, 11 representing 3.35 km made habitat improvements to shoreline that was already georeferenced as “soft“, three representing 360 m converted shoreline from “hard” to “soft”, and five representing 1.22 km added incidental habitat to hardened shoreline. Even with the addition of 1.58 km of new soft shoreline and incidental habitat, there was an overall net loss of 0.74 km of soft shoreline over the 30-year timeframe. To reach the “good” state of at least 70% soft shoreline, an additional 12.1 km of soft shoreline will have to be added. This confirms that shoreline hardening continues despite the best efforts of resource managers and conservation organizations. Resource managers must become opportunistic and get involved up front in urban waterfront redevelopment projects to advocate for habitat. Incremental progress will undoubtedly be slow following adaptive management.
Transformation of an Industrial Brownfield into an Ecological Buffer for Michigan’s Only Ramsar Wetland of International...Published: 18 May 2012 by MDPI in Sustainability
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge spans 77 km along the Detroit River and western Lake Erie, and is the only unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System that is international. A key unit of the refuge is the 166-ha Humbug Marsh that represents the last kilometer of natural shoreline on the U.S. mainland of the river and Michigan’s only “Wetland of International Importance” designated under the 1971 International Ramsar Convention. Adjacent to Humbug Marsh is an 18-ha former industrial manufacturing site (now called the Refuge Gateway) that is being remediated and restored as an ecological buffer for Humbug Marsh and the future home of the refuge’s visitor center. Restoration and redevelopment activities have included: cleanup and capping of contaminated lands; daylighting a creek (i.e., deliberately exposing the flow of a creek that was historically placed underground in a culvert) and constructing a retention pond and emergent wetland to treat storm water prior to discharge to the Detroit River; restoring coastal wetland, riparian buffer, and upland habitats; and constructing two roads, hiking/biking trails, and a kayak/canoe landing to offer wildlife-compatible public uses that allow visitors to experience this internationally-recognized natural resource. This project has been described as transformational for the region by restoring an industrial brownfield into high quality wildlife habitat that expands the ecological buffer of a Ramsar site. Specific restoration targets for the site include: achieving a net gain of 6.5 ha of wetlands in a river that has lost 97% of its coastal wetlands to development; restoring 10.1 ha of upland buffer habitat; treating invasive Phragmites along 4 km of shoreline; and treatment of invasive plant species in 20.2 ha of upland habitats in Humbug Marsh. Further, the Refuge Gateway is being restored as a model of environmental sustainability for nearly seven million residents within a 45-minute drive. Key lessons learned include: reach broad-based agreement on a sustainability vision; identify and involve a key champion; establish core project delivery team; ensure up-front involvement of regulatory agencies; recruit and meaningfully involve many partners; expect the unexpected; practice adaptive management; place a priority on sound science-based decision making; ensure decision-making transparency; measure and celebrate successes, including benefits; and place a high priority on education and outreach.
Historically, many urban waterfront shorelines were stabilized using hard shoreline engineering to protect developments from flooding and erosion, or to accommodate commercial navigation or industry. Today, there is growing interest in developing shorelines using ecological principles and practices that enhance habitat and improve aesthetics, while at the same time reducing erosion, providing stability, and ensuring shoreline safety (i.e., soft shoreline engineering). In 2008–2009, a survey of 38 soft shoreline engineering projects in the Detroit River-western Lake Erie watershed was conducted. In total, $17.3 million (combined U.S. and Canadian currency) was spent on these projects. Of the 38 projects implemented, six (16%) had some quantitative assessment of ecological effectiveness, while the remaining 32 lacked monitoring or only had qualitative assessment through visual inspection. Key lessons learned include: involve habitat experts at the initial stages of waterfront planning; establish broad-based goals with quantitative targets to measure project success; ensure multidisciplinary project support; start with demonstration projects and attract partners; treat habitat modification projects as experiments that promote learning; involve citizen scientists, volunteers, and universities in monitoring, and obtain post-project monitoring commitments up front in project planning; measure benefits and communicate successes; and promote education and outreach, including public events that showcase results and communicate benefits.
Designing a Sustainable Future through Creation of North America’s only International Wildlife RefugePublished: 21 September 2010 by MDPI in Sustainability
In 2001, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established based on the principles of conservation and sustainability. The refuge has grown from 49.1 ha in 2001 to over 2,300 ha in 2010. Agreement on a compelling vision for a sustainable future was necessary to rally stakeholders and move them forward together. Project examples include: lake sturgeon and common tern restoration; soft shoreline engineering; ecotourism; sustainable redevelopment of a brownfield; and indicator reporting. Key success factors include: a consensus long-term vision; a multi-stakeholder process that achieves cooperative learning; strong coupling of monitoring/research programs with management; implementing actions consistent with adaptive management; measuring and celebrating successes; quantifying benefits; building capacity; and developing the next generation of sustainability practitioners and entrepreneurs.
Over 35 years of US and Canadian pollution prevention and control efforts have led to substantial improvements in environmental quality of the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. However, the available information also shows that much remains to be done. Improvements in environmental quality have resulted in significant ecological recovery, including increasing populations of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), peregrine falcons (Falco columbarius), lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), walleye (Sander vitreus), and burrowing mayflies (Hexagenia spp.). Although this recovery is remarkable, many challenges remain, including population growth, transportation expansion, and land use changes; nonpoint source pollution; toxic substances contamination; habitat loss and degradation; introduction of exotic species; and greenhouse gases and global warming. Research/monitoring must be sustained for effective management. Priority research and monitoring needs include: demonstrating and quantifying cause–effect relationships; establishing quantitative endpoints and desired future states; determining cumulative impacts and how indicators relate; improving modeling and prediction; prioritizing geographic areas for protection and restoration; and fostering long-term monitoring for adaptive management. Key management agencies, universities, and environmental and conservation organizations should pool resources and undertake comprehensive and integrative assessments of the health of the Detroit River and western Lake Erie at least every 5 years to practice adaptive management for long-term sustainability.
The management lessons learned from sediment remediation in the Detroit River - western Lake Erie watershedPublished: 01 September 2004 by Wiley in Lakes & Reservoirs: Research & Management
During the 1970s−1990s, considerable emphasis was placed on minimizing the inputs of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from active sources. In addition, between 1993 and 2001, ≈ $US130 × 106 was spent for sediment remediation within the western Lake Erie – Detroit River basin. In general, although PCB contamination of the Detroit River and Lake Erie declined significantly between the 1970s and mid‐1990s, it has remained fairly stable over the past 10 years. Control of PCBs and other contaminants at their source remains a primary imperative for action. Remediation of contaminated sediments is growing in importance, however, as greater levels of source control are achieved. From a sediment management perspective, it is estimated that between 1993 and 2001 a substantially higher mass of PCBs (over two orders of magnitude higher) was removed as a result of contaminated sediment remediation, as compared to navigational dredging of shipping channels. In addition, there is a strong and compelling rationale for moving expeditiously to remediate severely contaminated sediment while it is still relatively contained in a small geographical area. The cost of not acting in a timely manner might be to exacerbate environmental problems including increased deformities and reproductive problems in wildlife, delayed ecosystem recovery and increased costs, or even preclusion of future sediment remediation. Based on discussions at a United States of America–Canada workshop held in 2002, key management advice includes continued emphasis to be placed on remediating contaminated sediment hot spots (including evaluating the effectiveness of projects), integrated monitoring efforts to be focused on beneficial use restoration and a high priority to be placed on sustaining and building upon modelling efforts, in order to be able to accurately predict and evaluate ecosystem responses to remedial and preventive actions.
An effort to further define ecosystem health and integrity has been made through development and adoption of quantitative objectives for fourteen beneficial use impairments associated with the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Narrative descriptions of beneficial use impairments have been used to develop ecosystem type indicators and objectives, which are then used to set goals for rehabilitative actions. This process is both a technical and a social one. Implementation of rehabilitative actions, in addition to being socially, technically and economically challenging has yielded both encouraging and surprising results. The process and the results have reinforced the need for an adaptive management approach to the rehabilitation of aquatic ecosystems.