DU Helps Transform Historic Southeast Michigan Marsh

DU Manager of Conservation Programs Jason Hill (right) explains the water pump and water-control structures at historic Ford Marsh in southe

DU Manager of Conservation Programs Jason Hill (right) explains the water pump and water-control structures at historic Ford Marsh in southe

What was once Henry Ford's personal waterfowl hunting preserve in southeast Michigan has been restored to its natural beauty thanks to the Ford Marsh Restoration Project. Ford Marsh is a 175-acre coastal wetland that's part of the 5,700-acre Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The marsh is adjacent to the River Raisin along the shores of Lake Erie and is located in the River Raisin Area of Concern. This region along western Lake Erie has lost more than 50 percent of its coastal wetlands.

Habitat quality at Ford Marsh declined when the area was enclosed by manmade levees. This prohibited natural flooding and drainage patterns that are crucial to supporting healthy native wildlife and vegetation. The restoration project began in 2014 and involved installing a water pump and water-control structures. These improvements now enable U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managers to replicate natural flooding and drainage cycles, promoting desired plant growth while fending off invasive species.

With the new water-control structures and pump in place, the refuge now has the infrastructure required to meet long-term wetland habitat management goals. This effort will benefit a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, other wetland birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Thanks to this project, the marsh will once again serve as a healthy stopover area for migrating waterfowl. Project funding was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USFWS, and Ducks Unlimited.

Click here to see more photos.