Author: Kevin Arnold, Southern District Interpretive Supervisor
In an earlier article, Community Outreach Interpreter Lisa Parsons wrote about “Celebrating Our Local Wetlands.” Here at Lake Erie Metropark, we are also “fighting” for one of our local wetlands, the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland. Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands are not only some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in Michigan; but they are also some of the most imperiled. Although the State of Michigan has around 300,000 acres of Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands today, this is less than half of what existed prior to European settlement. Here, along the Detroit River, less than 10% of these wetlands remain. Drastically fluctuating water levels expedited by climate change, replacing natural shorelines with steel walls or rocks, erosion, pollution and a myriad of other factors has greatly impacted our coastal gems.
The Metroparks have teamed with organizations like the Great Lakes Commission, NOAA, and others to begin an exciting new project to help restore nearly 2 acres of shoreline near the Wave Pool complex at Lake Erie Metropark. This project will remove the existing “hard” shoreline, and replace it with a more natural, coastal wetland. This project will not only regain crucial habitat for many bird, fish, reptile, amphibian and mammal species; it will also be a shining example of what can be done to help improve and maintain natural communities within the Great Lakes. Museum staff have been working hard to incorporate an educational component to the project by interpreting the project during public, group and school programming. Below are some pictures from some programs we conducted with the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) where a large focus of our hikes centered around the importance of wetlands, their connectivity with all of us, and what we can all do to be better stewards of our environment. Through education, habitat improvements, and some of the everyday actions of staff, it is safe to say that the Metroparks are “fighting for Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands.”
For more information, or to learn about some of our partners, please visit some of the following:
The Michigan Natural Features Inventory – https://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/communities/description/10671/great-lakes-marsh
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – https://www.noaa.gov/
The Great Lakes Commission – https://www.glc.org/
St. Clair-Detroit River System Initiative (SCDRS) – https://scdrs.org/