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Refuge Gateway Timeline

Gateway Master Plan
  • 1946-1990

    Formerly owned by Chrysler Corporation, the Refuge Gateway was operated as an automotive brake and paint plant facility for 44 years.  The facility was closed in 1990 and remediated to State of Michigan criteria for industrial/commercial use.  The result - an industrial brownfield left to sit vacant for the next 12 years.  

  • 1994

    Consent Decree signed, with restrictive covenants.

  • 2000

    Conservation Vision approved by United States and Canada. 

    In 2000, then Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Herb Grey and U.S. Congressman John Dingell (15th District of Michigan) charged a group of scientists and managers to clearly define a desired future state for the Detroit River ecosystem. The product of this 2000 visioning workshop was a consensus document titled ―A Conservation Vision for the Lower Detroit River Ecosystem.  

  • 2001

    U.S. and Canadian participants in the 2000 visioning workshop agreed to the following vision statement: "In ten years the lower Detroit River ecosystem will be an international conservation region where the health and diversity of wildlife and fish are sustained through protection of existing significant habitats and rehabilitation of degraded ones, and where the resulting ecological, recreational, economic, educational, and quality of life benefits are sustained for present and future generations." 

    This consensus vision was then used by Congressman John Dingell to introduce legislation creating the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) that was signed into law by the President of the United States on December 21, 2001.

    View theDetroit River IWR Establishment Act.

  • 2002

    Wayne County acquires the site from Chrysler for development as the Refuge Gateway, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other key community organizations. 

  • 2004

    Wayne County, USFWS, and partners complete a Master Plan for the Gateway to guide cleanup, restoration and construction work for public–use infrastructure. The Master Plan is a cohesive redesign of the Refuge Gateway property focusing on sustainable practices that will improve wildlife habitat while creating a world-class visitor’s experience. 

  • 2005

    Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) completed.  The Refuge Gateway is identified as the proposed site for the Refuge's future visitor center. 

  • 2006

    A Schematic Plan was developed for the site to provide more details and preliminary cost estimates to begin a capital campaign.  Proposed public-use infrastructure for the Refuge Gateway includes a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Visitor Center, a boat dock and fishing pier, a kayak landing, innovative storm water treatment wetlands and greenway trails, as well as a grading plan that will enhance the existing remediation to meet human health and wildlife standards, and the restoration of endemic fish and wildlife habitat. 

  • 2006-2007

    Wayne County Parks awarded Kresge Foundation “Green Building Initiative” Grant to assist with planning of green site features and LEED-certification. 

  • 2008

    Hiking trails, environmental education shelter, and wetland boardwalk constructed in Humbug Marsh Unit and pedestrian stream crossing completed, linking Humbug Marsh Unit and Refuge Gateway.

  • 2009

    Daylighting Monguagon Creek complete and capping and final grade achieved on 30% of site. 

    The piped Monguagon Drain passed through the site into Humbug Marsh as a natural creek prior to industrial development. Today, the drain is daylighted and naturally filtered before releasing into its historical route through Humbug Marsh. 


  • 2010

    Greenway trail completed linking Lake Erie Metropark Unit with the Humbug Marsh Unit and Refuge Gateway. The trail, which can be used for biking and hiking, is part of Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, a community effort that wants to link Downriver communities through nonmotorized pathways. 

  • 2011

    Detroit River shoreline restoration completed and capping completed on an additional 30% of site.   

    In fall 2011, the Detroit River Shoreline Restoration Project was completed at the Refuge Gateway that included restoring a natural shoreline, removal of human-placed fill and debris to restore over three acres of riparian buffer habitat, and construction of a second access road and kayak landing.

  • 2012

    All cleanup and restoration work completed at Refuge Gateway.  Design work initiated for the Detroit River IWR Visitor Center at Gateway site. 

Last Updated: Jan 04, 2013
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