Photo of Detroit River Belle Isle and Downtown Detroit River Front

Detroit River AOC - Celeron Island Habitat Restoration

Funding Agency: NOAA

Project Budget: Design: $389,692 (Design covered both Stony and Celeron Island) Construction: $8,000,000

Start Date: Design: August 2013, Construction: May 2017

End Date: December 2020

Celeron Island is comprised of sixty-eight, uninhabited acres at the mouth of the Detroit River near Lake Erie. It is owned entirely by the State of Michigan and is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) through the Pointe Mouillee Game Area. This area of the Detroit River serves as one of the most important spawning areas for western Lake Erie. Significant positive recreational and economic impacts are anticipated as a result of this project that will enhance quality of life for southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio and further strengthen the Great Lakes fishery worth $4-7 billion annually.

The island's surrounding waters contain remnants of important emergent and submergent aquatic plants such as Vallisnaria sp. (eelweed), Elodea sp. (waterweed), and various Potamogeton sp. (pondweed). These waters are important spawning, nursery and refuge areas for sport, commercial and forage fish species. The island provides habitat for deer, mink, muskrat and bald eagle. Because it is situated within a major migratory flyway, it is an important resting spot for birds and waterfowl such as canvasback duck, trumpeter swan and American coot.

With high-water levels that ensued in the late 70's, the early 90's and again recently, much of the protective shoreline along the isle's southeastern side has washed away. This erosion caused the loss of many complex wetland associations that once lined the outer shoreline and the inner bay, at the center of the island, and a reduction in the once abundant beds of submergent aquatic vegetation. Today, the island is actually two separate islands due to decades of erosion.

Project Scope: An initial grant award from NOAA combined early investigations at Celeron and Stony Islands into one project involving intense information gathering and analysis. Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc. (ECT) was engaged by FDR to assist in the planning, design and engineering process. Information gathering was followed by review of various design alternatives for both islands. Once preferred alternatives were identified and vetted through governmental agencies and the general public, the designs were further developed into preliminary construction documents and submitted for joint permit to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and US Army Corps of Engineers. With additional funding by NOAA, both projects were independently advanced into construction. These projects are recognized as major steps in completing habitat re-construction among the islands in the lower Detroit River.

To address the severe erosion problem at the south end of Celeron Island, construction of off-shore emergent shoals are designed to reduce energy of incoming waves from Lake Erie and wind derived seiche activity, allowing for regeneration of the island's outer shoreline emergent vegetation. These shoals will also create additional fish habitat and provide a protected area for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

A depressed area is planned to provide deeper water habitat. Material from the depressed area will be placed along the backside of one of the shoals, providing shoreline habitat. Other habitat structures and features are included to promote habitat development, diversity and protection. Restoration of a sand bar on the isle's northeast side will serve as a nesting, barrier beach habitat.

E. C. Korneffel Company was selected through a competitive bidding process to construct the project. Work began in the spring of 2018 and is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2019. Post construction monitoring will follow in 2020 to document changes in wildlife populations based on the restoration work.

Project Output/Outcomes: The project includes creation of a series of habitat shoals near the southern and northeast shores of Celeron Island, totaling nearly 4,000 LF.

  • 2,500 linear feet of habitat shoals
  • 900 linear feet of nesting beach shoal
  • 500 linear feet of habitat shoreline

A variety of habitat design elements are incorporated to provide multiple niche habitats in support of existing fish and wildlife species. These include:

  • Shallow water habitat and a depression spawning habitat area
  • 35 habitat structures for mudpuppies, turtles and fish including rock piles, basking logs and woody debris bundles

add description

Celeron Island Location Map


add description

Celeron Island - viewed from the south


add description

Freshwater Drum sampled along Celeron's south end during preconstruction monitoring.


add description

Rock shoals are under construction to protect new habitat structures at Celeron Island's south end.


add description

A new nesting beach will protect sensitive habitat at Celeron Island's north end.