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GLIN==> $850,000 in funding for Belle Isle

Title: $850,000 in funding for Belle Isle
The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News covered the announcement of $850,000 in funding for two projects on Belle Isle.  Links to the newspaper articles, as well as the news release from the Detroit Recreation Department  are below. Photos from the press conference are available via the Michigan Sea Grant web site at www.miseagrant.umich.edu.  

New spawning reef could turn Detroit River into a love nest
Project off Belle Isle to help sturgeon breed
November 21, 2003
The Great Lakes lake sturgeon -- a monster-sized fish with prehistoric lineage, a life span of 150 years and a face only a momma sturgeon could love -- is being invited to fool around in the Detroit River...  See complete story at http://www.freep.com/news/metro/reef21_20031121.htm

Michigan Sea Grant is managing the Sturgeon Habitat & Education Project. For more information about this project, contact Mark Breederland, Michigan Sea Grant and the Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative; phone: 586-823-3300, email: breederm@msue.msu.edu or Jennifer Read, Michigan Sea Grant; phone (734) 936-3622, email jenread@umich.edu


Two projects expected to enhance Belle Isle
State, federal funds will be used to clean lagoon, create a spawning reef
Thursday, November 20, 2003
By Darren A. Nichols / The Detroit News
Two projects that are expected to enhance the natural habitat at Belle Isle will be announced by Recreation Department officials today... See complete story at http://www.detnews.com/2003/metro/0311/20/d11d-330247.htm

For more information about this project, contact Smith Group, JJR, Lara Treemore Spears, email: lara.treemore-spears@smithgroup.com


News Release
November 20, 2003   
Contact: Chris Kopicko, (313) 224-3758, Lee Stephenson, 313-224-1126 or Alicia Minter, 313-852-4075

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the Detroit Recreation Department recently announced two new projects at Belle Isle Park totaling nearly $850,000.  One project will restore a natural area on the banks of Blue Heron Lagoon; the second project will create a sturgeon spawning reef in the waters just off the island.  Both projects are important components of the City of Detroit's Belle Isle Master Plan. 

Blue Heron Lagoon Natural Area Project
The Detroit Recreation Department has received a $250,000 grant from the Michigan Coastal Management Program for ecological restoration of the 41-acre Blue Heron Lagoon located on the eastern end of Belle Isle. The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided these funds to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for resource restoration projects in the Great Lakes.  The Detroit Recreation Department will also contribute $100,000 in matching funds for this project, bringing the total to $350,000. 

The Recreation Department and its professional consulting team, headed by SmithGroup JJR, will launch the project by conducting a survey to identify plants and analyze ecological conditions in the area.  The restoration of the habitat will ensure the protection of unique native species like Prairie Ladies' Tresses, Pumpkin Ash, and Sullivant's Milkweed, and offer educational opportunities for visitors.  The project will also develop strategies for controlling invasive species like phragmites.  This grant is part of the effort that will eventually enable the City to create a deep-water fish habitat in the Lagoon and a direct fishery connection between the Detroit River and the waters of the Blue Heron Lagoon.

Sturgeon Habitat Project
The City will also benefit from a second pair of grants: the Michigan Coastal Management Program grant and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust grant.  The grants will be used to create a spawning habitat for the largest fish in the Great Lakes - the Lake Sturgeon, a species that can grow to 7 feet in length.  Sturgeons are a threatened species in Michigan and are living dinosaurs, having remained essentially unchanged for millions of years.
Although sturgeon formerly reproduced abundantly in the Detroit River, recent studies have found few places where they currently reproduce.  To provide such a habitat, this project will construct a lake sturgeon spawning reef off Belle Isle.  The project will also develop educational displays in the Belle Isle Aquarium, where visitors can also see live sturgeon.  Visual presentations about the sturgeon reef project will also be on display at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and the Belle Isle Nature Zoo. 

The sturgeon project is a $500,000 effort, with $309,262 coming from the Michigan Coastal Management Program and $110,000 from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust.  In-kind support will come from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Detroit District, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Detroit Zoo, DTE Energy, the Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative of Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, and others.  The Michigan Sea Grant College Program will manage and implement the effort. SmithGroup JJR is a consultant for the City of Detroit assisting with the project.
"These projects are significant because they improve our premier park, Belle Isle, and enhance recreational and educational opportunities for kids and families," stated Lee Stephenson, deputy director of the Detroit Recreation Department.

These new projects are priorities of the Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative, which champions projects that celebrate history and culture, further economic development, and promote environmental stewardship.  The Detroit River was one of 14 rivers to be honored with the American Heritage River designation in 1998 by Presidential Executive Order.  In 2001, the Detroit River also received a Canadian Heritage River designation, making it the first international heritage river system in North America.

In 1883, Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect who designed New York's Central Park, designed Belle Isle Park, the 980-acre crown jewel of Detroit's public park system.  The park is situated on one of America's busiest waterways and provides spectacular views of Detroit, Canada, freighter traffic, and the Ambassador Bridge.  The park has over 8 million visitors annually.


Elizabeth LaPorte, Communications Director, Michigan Sea Grant College Program | 
Email: elzblap@umich.edu | (734) 647-0767 | Fax: (734) 647-0768 | 
One Great Lakes Plaza, 401 E. Liberty S., Ste. 330, Ann Arbor, MI  48104-2298 | www.miseagrant.umich.edu |