Vol. 19 No. 1
Spring is a natural resurrection, an experience in immortality -Henry David Thoreau
In this issue...
Nature Area Open
Celebration for the Gibraltar Bay Unit of the Detroit River International Refuge
The establishment of the Gibraltar Bay Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) was celebrated last October. The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) hoisted a tent, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought coffee, cider and donuts, and Grosse Ile Township transported folks from the Township Hall parking lot to the site. Dr. Russ Kreis from the EPA welcomed guests, described the ecological value of the Gibraltar Bay Unit and the enormous effort that was necessary over the last 40 years to convert the property from a military site to a valuable natural area. Refuge Manager Dr. John Hartig, FWS, spoke about recent wildlife surveys, the fish, bird and amphibian counts (see fish survey) and the advantages of the property transfer to the Fish & Wildlife Service. Conservancy President Liz Hugel reviewed the history of the site and expressed appreciation to the Conservancy’s founders who envisioned the creation of the Nature Area and took action, recruiting many volunteers to make the property the treasured natural resource it is today. Local Girl Scouts Xaun Davenport and Morgan Esordi presented Congressman John Dingell with a token of the Conservancy’s appreciation for his efforts in creating the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. Delighted with the photos of Gibraltar Bay, he promised to hang them in his office to remind him of his duck hunting days. Township Supervisor Brian Loftus addressed the amazing transformation of the downriver industrial and military complex sites to wildlife areas. He applauded the efforts of those who worked to make the transformation possible, including Congressman Dingell for his tireless work on behalf of downriver communities.
Congressman Dingell declared that although redistricting had taken Grosse Ile away from him, no one could take him away from Grosse Ile. His time and care for an area that is so important to so many is appreciated. He expressed his satisfaction that “the addition of this beautiful gem to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge will allow families and wildlife to enjoy this site for many years to come.”
Our thanks to DTE Energy for sponsoring the Birds of Prey “meet and greet” with falconer Karen Young. The birds were a big hit—up close and personal, their coloring and feather detail amazing. Thanks to Roberta Urbani who arranged the DTE Energy Green Team volunteers. The DTE Energy Foundation made a $1,500 donation. Thanks to all Conservancy volunteers who worked the previous weeks to spruce up the site and provide tours after the speeches. A special note of recognition goes to Boy Scout Troop 1261 with Gary Iverson leading the effort to get the trails mowed and groomed.
President’s reflections—GBU Celebration
President’s reflections—GBU Celebration The property that the community has known as the Grosse Ile Nature Area has seen many changes over the last century. 100 years ago much of the area was marsh and bottomland of the Detroit River. The Navy acquired it for a seaplane base, the Department of Defense for a missile site, the EPA for wetlands research, and finally the Fish & Wildlife Service for an urban wildlife refuge.
GINLC is pleased the Nature Area is “reborn” as the Gibraltar Bay Unit as part of North America’s only International Wildlife Refuge. With our history of commitment to restore this unique site, we look forward to working with the FWS and GI Township on stewardship and public access to both the refuge and the adjacent natural area of the airport.
Across America it was “Make A Difference Day” when we celebrated. Although all who have made a difference to the establishment of the Nature Area cannot be mentioned, we applaud Bill Heinrich and Bruce Jones for their vision in the early 1990’s. They saw the potential of the property and decided to take action and “make a difference” for the community and for the environment. Joined by Ingo Hasserodt, Kurt Kobiljak, Michael Perry and others, they formed the Conservancy— a local grass-roots organization. Partnered with the EPA and assisted by many volunteers, they embarked to reclaim the site for nature and the environmental education of the public. Trails and trail guides were developed. Observation areas help people take a break from life’s stresses and worries to observe the wonders of nature and be refreshed.
We also recognize the efforts of Senator Carl Levin and Congressman John Dingell. In the big picture, our 40+ acre Gibraltar Bay Unit of the 6,000 acre Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is a very, very small piece. But to those who live here, its value is huge. Congressman Dingell championed the establishment of the International Wildlife Refuge and has done everything necessary with regard to legislation and more, to make our site a valuable component of the refuge.
We hope that our younger generation will look back one day, be grateful for the vision of those who came before them and that they too will choose, when given the opportunity, “to make a difference” for their community and environment.