The Detroit River is a 51 km (32 mile) international connecting channel linking Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. The Detroit River is also one of 42 Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem where a remedial action plan (RAP) is being developed and implemented to restore beneficial uses. The Detroit River RAP identifies "loss of fish and wildlife habitat" as one of the impaired beneficial uses (Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Ontario Ministry of Environment 1991). Significant loss of Detroit River wetlands and other habitats has occurred as a result of conversion of land to agriculture practices, urban development, and industrial growth. For example, 97% of the coastal wetlands on the U.S. mainland of the Detroit River have been lost to development and the remaining 3% are threatened by development pressures. Further loss of habitat due to contaminated sediment is also documented (Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Ontario Ministry of Environment 1991).
On March 4, 1998, the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, the Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, and other partners convened a binational conference entitled "Rehabilitating and Conserving Detroit River Habitats." This binational conference was one of a number of events held to help celebrate the opening of the University of Windsor's new Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research facility along the Detroit River. The primary objective of the conference was to share success stories of habitat rehabilitation and conservation from both sides of the Detroit River. Secondary objectives were to:
The purpose of this report is to convey information from the success stories of habitat rehabilitation and conservation, and to summarize the discussions and key findings.