Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

Wildlife refuge crosses international borders


By Scott Davis Booth News Service

SAGINAW -- Nearly a century ago, the nation's No. 1 macho huntsman became its biggest environmentalist.

Marksmen were shooting up plume bird habitats in Florida, and President Theodore Roosevelt was worried about the nation's disappearing natural wonders.

"The plume hunters were taking the feathers for hats," said Doug Spencer, manager at the Shiawassee Refuge near Saginaw. "He got very concerned about what was happening in his generation. So much loss."

To stem the tide, Roosevelt designated the nation's first wildlife refuge in 1903 -- a 6-acre site at Pelican Island, Fla.

Since then, the nation has added 93 million acres in all 50 states to the national wildlife refuge program, including one of Michigan's jewels -- the 9,400-acre Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in 1953.

And as local nature lovers prepare to celebrate the national system's 99th birthday Thursday, U.S. and Canadian officials are adding another gem -- an international refuge that extends 15 miles south along the Detroit River from the Rouge River to Monroe.

The venture will involve co-management of existing refuge or protected areas on U.S. and Canadian sides so both countries can better guard the rich diversity of river wildlife, including diving ducks, waterfowl, raptors, eagles, wading birds and great blue herons.

Spencer helps manage the 5,000-acre refuge on the U.S. side from his Shiawassee office. Borders for Canadian protected areas along the Detroit River are not yet formed.

"There has never been an international refuge before. It brings things closer," Spencer said. "We look at the river as a whole. It's just a political boundary."

John Merriman, issues coordinator with Environment Canada, the country's environmental regulatory agency, said he was looking forward to working more closely with his U.S. counterparts.

"It's a common watershed," said Merriman, whose office is in Burlington, Ontario. "Wildlife and fish don't respect political boundaries."

In December, President George W. Bush declared that the Wyandotte National Wildlife Refuge would become part of the new refuge, called the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Trenton, sponsored the legislation.

Merriman said the Canadian government has not formally recognized the area as "international refuge," but that Environment Canada has agreed in principle to take a bi-national approach in managing the river watershed.

On the U.S. side, federal officials want to extend the existing Wyandotte refuge south to Monroe. Other plans call for developing nature bike and hiking trails from the shore into Trenton and Flat Rock, and nature trails parallel to Interstate 75 south to Monroe.

Spencer said officials will meet in coming years with industries along the river to set aside land for the refuge. The entire project may take five to 10 years, he said.

Eventually, Spencer said, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to build a substation at the expanded refuge, staffed by six employees managed out of the Shiawassee refuge.

To commemorate the 99th anniversary of U.S. refuges, the Shiawassee refuge is hosting a display of owls, hawks, vultures and ducks by Joe Rogers, of Wildlife Recovery Associates, at the Greenpoint Environmental Learning Center, 3010 Maple.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map