Detroit-area state park improved for fish, birds

Enhanced recreational opportunities, habitat at Michigan’s only Lake Erie state park

William C. Sterling State Park

William C. Sterling State Park

Ducks Unlimited and its partners enhanced recreational opportunities at Michigan’s only state park on Lake Erie while also improving habitat for fish and birds.

William C. Sterling State Park in southeast Michigan’s Monroe County is located near the busy metro Detroit region and is popular with boaters, anglers and outdoors enthusiasts. Ducks Unlimited, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service installed a new water and fish passage structure on the northern end of the park, reconnecting historic coastal wetlands to Lake Erie.

The project restored natural water flow to 90 acres of coastal wetlands and fish and aquatic organism access to 30 acres of habitat.

The project is adjacent to 360 acres of additional enhancement projects at Sterling State Park, lead by the Michigan DNR and Ducks Unlimited.

“The opportunity to reconnect Lake Erie to its wetlands, while supplementing the DNR’s other restoration work at Sterling State Park, makes this opportunity significant,” said Jason Hill, Ducks Unlimited manager of conservation programs for the Great Lakes. “This project benefits a plethora of fish and wildlife species that rely on Great Lakes coastal wetland habitats.”

These types of restoration projects are crucial to the local and overall health of the Great Lakes. This portion of southeast Michigan is labeled an Area of Concern by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because of the historical chemical contamination and loss of habitat from urban and industrial use. More than half of the region’s wetlands are developed.

The EPA has baseline data on migrating shorebirds, fish and wetland plant communities at the park and will monitor long-term health of wildlife at the state-managed park.