Some things only come along once in a lifetime and one is coming to Trenton.
On Oct. 16, a public groundbreaking ceremony will be held for the new Visitor Center at the Refuge Gateway located at 5437 West Jefferson Ave.
The Refuge Gateway will host an open house at 11 a.m., with the groundbreaking ceremony starting at 1 p.m. This Visitor Center will welcome, educate, and inspire tens of thousands of projected annual visitors to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
This 12,000-square-foot Visitor Center/Headquarters facility includes exhibit areas, a 4-D object theater, multi-purpose class rooms, staff offices, storage, a wildlife observation/fireplace room, and two outdoor patios.
It features abundant natural light, natural and recycled materials, and numerous energy-efficient elements. Visitors will find the facility welcoming and accessible as it serves as a gateway to explore the Refuge.
The multi-purpose room will be a flexible space that can be used for school groups, meetings, or presentations. Exhibits will highlight the natural history of the Refuge and surrounding area, and will feature hands-on/minds-on discovery opportunities.
The Refuge Gateway property is located adjacent to the Humbug Marsh, the last mile of natural shoreline on the U.S. mainland of the Detroit River, and represents a conservation success story.
This 44-acre industrial brownfield was the home of a Chrysler automotive brake and paint plant for 44 years until its closure in 1990.
For more than a decade, Wayne County, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and an array of partners have been cleaning up, restoring, and enhancing the site to prepare for this new Refuge Visitor Center.
This project is being described as transformational for metropolitan Detroit in that it is cleaning up and restoring an industrial brownfield into an ecological buffer for Michigan’s only “Wetland of International Importance” (Humbug Marsh) and the home of the Refuge’s Visitor Center.
Further, this transformation is helping change the perception of the Detroit River from that of a polluted “rust belt” river to one of an international wildlife refuge that reconnects people to nature, improves quality of life, showcases sustainable redevelopment, and enhances community pride.
Trenton resident John Hartig is refuge manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.