In The Community

World Wetlands Day_AnnaCook

Refuge Administrative Support Assistant, Anna Cook, talks to a student at a World Wetlands Day event at Oscar A. Carlson High School. 


The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge includes 48 miles of shoreline along the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie. Nearly seven million people live within a 45-minute drive. The watershed supports a great diversity of wildlife and habitats which provide many world-class, close-to-home, outdoor recreational opportunities that enhance quality of life and increase community pride. 


The Future Home of the Refuge Visitor Center

For the last 44 years, beginning in 1946, automobile component manufacturing occurred on the gateway to North America’s only international wildlife refuge, a 44-acre tract of waterfront property in Trenton, Michigan.  By 1990, automotive facilities were closed and the land had been remediated to industry standards, leaving an industrial brownfield behind to sit vacant for the next 12 years.  In 2002, Wayne County purchased the land to become the gateway to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.  The property is now known as the Refuge Gateway A master plan for the site was then developed by Wayne County, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many partners to serve as a blueprint for the cleanup and restoration work at the Refuge Gateway necessary to establish the site as an ecological buffer for Humbug Marsh, Michigan’s only “Wetland of International Importance.” 

Since the adoption of the Refuge Gateway Master Plan in 2006, much work has been accomplished, including: capping of brownfield lands; daylighting Monguagon Creek and constructing a retention pond and emergent wetland to treat storm water prior to discharge to the Detroit River; a shoreline and riparian restoration; completion of all public access roads; and construction of two wildlife observation decks and an education shelter in Humbug Marsh.  In 2011, the Refuge Gateway received $1.39 million in funding to complete all cleanup and restoration work in 2012.  This “Extreme Makeover” of the Refuge Gateway landscape will restore over 41 acres of land for wildlife habitat and outdoor education and recreational experiences.

On-site programming is limited at this time due to lack of staff and facilities, however a number of exciting refuge programs including environmental education, interpretation, and special events are available throughout the year to the public. Field trips and group tours are available seasonally. Off-site classroom visits and staff presentations are available on a case by case basis.  Contact us at or 734-365-0219 for additional information about Refuge programs and events.


Summer Job Opportunities for Youth

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge also hosts an annual, 8-week, paid summer work program for teenagers 15 – 18 years of age.  Participants in the Youth Conservation Corps program are introduced to the important work being done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and to meaningful experiences in America’s Great Outdoors.  Crew members assist refuge personnel with a diverse range of projects, including: wildlife research, trail maintenance and visitor access projects, environmental education & recreation programs, and grounds and building maintenance. 

Contact Assistant Manager, Steve Dushane, for more information about the Youth Conservation Corps Program. 



Community Events

The Refuge coordinates and/or participates in a number of community and outreach events, including: 

  • Annual Eagle Tours at DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant
  • World Wetlands Day Celebration & Student Exposition at Oscar A. Carlson High School
  • International Migratory Bird Day
  • Detroit River Days Kids Free Fishing Day
  • American Lotus Tour
  • Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival
  • Hawkfest at Lake Erie Metropark
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week

For a complete listing of Refuge programs and events, please visit or email the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance at  to sign up to receive updates and announcements. 

Click HERE to check out what is going on in the city of Detroit! 

Click HERE to check out what is going on in Pure Michigan! 

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in the News! 

The WildSide Newsletter 

Refuge Press Releases  

Refuge Annual Reports