December 21, 2001 was a great day for everyone who cares about aquatic habitat protection. President Bush signed into law a bill creating the first ever International Wildlife Refuge, which will protect 18 miles of the lower Detroit River. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
With over 5 million people living near the River, it has been challenging to keep intact the diverse aquatic habitats of the Detroit River Watershed. The River connecting Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie has a history that includes discharge of untreated waste, excess phosphorous, industrial pollution, fish advisories, and loss of wetlands. While creation of the Refuge is a great beginning to protecting the Detroit River, more work will certainly be necessary to ensure the River’s ecological health in the years to come. Shawn Hupka, Director of the Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwest Ontario and Southeast Michigan applauds the U.S. efforts, but would like to see a larger contribution from Canada to the protection work.” Following are two stories about the collective struggle that was necessary to achieve this protection.