Photo of South Fishing Pier on the Detroit River

South Fishing Pier

Funded by: Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

Grant Amount: $497,634 Match: $30,655

Start/End Date: October 2010 - August 2013

This project is located between the South Fishing Pier and the shoreline of Belle Isle. It features three "breakwater" barriers, consisting of core stone and 2 ton anchor stone, positioned parallel to the pier, and three small rock underwater berms running perpendicular to the pier to protect a newly created aquatic nursery habitat from freighter wake and ice flows. The project area is 1,200 feet long and 90 feet wide. Within the protected zone, three 0.2-acre pools dredged to 10 feet deep provide attractive drop-off zones for fish. Dredgings from the pools were placed in surrounding areas, raising river bottom elevations to support over 2.5 acres of newly created coastal wetland. The project is specifically designed as a nursery for larva fish emanating from a nearby, recently constructed, spawning reef and the existing shoal just upstream from the project site.

Funded in 2010 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), this project was completed in the summer of 2013 to restore critical habitat for fish and wildlife and accelerate removal of Beneficial Use Impairments in this Great Lakes Area of Concern. Led by the Friends of the Detroit River (FDR), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Detroit and a suite of other partners, this project makes significant strides to restore the river's ecological function, structure, and biotic diversity.

To further enhance the project, seven Detroit Public Schools conducted stewardship events. Participating Schools included Cass Technical High School, Ben Carson High School, Detroit Collegiate Prep School, Hutchinson at Howe Middle School and Chandler Park High and Middle Schools. FDR coordinated their shoreline planting events through the US Forest Service Urban Forestry Stewardship program. Litter collection and water quality monitoring events were coordinated through the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach™ program. The Belle Isle Nature Zoo and the Michigan Science Teacher Association provided support for all of the events. A final shoreline planting event was conducted in August of 2013 by Greening of Detroit.

In addition to a $2,000 plant purchase by the Detroit Recreation Department, volunteers working in the Belle Isle Greenhouses on behalf of the Belle Isle Conservancy provided native plant materials having genotypes local to Belle Isle. Donated materials included various oak species, red twigged and Drummond's dogwood, and spicebush. Purchased materials included native shrubs and perennials, including eastern ninebark, cardinal flower, coreopsis, blue lobelia, asters, goldenrod, swamp rose, steeplebush and various sedges.

The students' in-kind service contributed to the Detroit community's match obligation of $30,000. The Detroit Recreation Department (DRD) provided most of the match requirement by furnishing facilities for planning meetings over a two-year span and assisting with coordination of the construction. Initiating and conducting monitoring programs for amphibians and birds was also part of DRD's match contribution. Although this project was largely funded by the federal government, the Detroit community participated throughout the planning and construction process and will enjoy the project benefits as they continue to grow.

According to Keith Flournoy, former Belle Isle Park Manager, "We were able to create a project to enhance the existing habitat, provide structure and value for native species, improve the fishing experience for fishing enthusiasts on Belle Isle and within the Detroit River, and best of all, we were able to provide a long-lost connection to the lagoon for fish of the Great Lakes, and with the environmental education opportunities this project provides to our children from our school district and beyond, Belle Isle will continue to be a destination for residents of Detroit for generations to come."

The Great Lakes and coastal resources like the Detroit River are Michigan's most valuable natural resources and are fundamental to our identity and quality of life. The Great Lakes have extraordinary ecologic and economic value for Michigan providing:

  • jobs for more than 800,000 Michigan residents
  • a world-renowned commercial and sport fishery with an annual value of more than $4 billion
  • a $12.8 billion tourism industry
  • water resources for manufacturing industries, which produce 60 percent of our nation's steel and automobiles
  • harbors and marinas that support a $2 billion annual recreational boating industry

The South Fishing Pier restoration project provides significant steps to further enhance this valuable resource.

Belle Isle South Fishing Pier Restoration

South Fishing Pier Restoration

South Fishing Pier Restoration

South Fishing Pier