The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has initiated an extensive ecological restoration program at Belle Isle with support from Friends of Detroit River. WDET’s Sandra Svoboda takes a tour of the east end of Belle Isle with Sam Lovall, project manager for Friends of the Detroit River .
Hover over the map below to hear their conversations about ecological restoration at Belle Isle at various places on the island.
Elements of the project that Lovall describes include:
- Blue Heron Lagoon: As part of a phased program to restore and link some of the waterways surrounding the island, the Blue Heron Lagoon has already made progress in providing fish, frogs, turtles and snakes with a place for spawning and growth. Lovall notes that the further plans include linking the lagoon with Lake Okonoka to create more canoeing and kayaking paths for visitors who want to enjoy Belle Isle by water.
- Wetlands and Forests: Lovall explains that Belle Isle is home to a rare type of wetland forest. Although it has been damaged in the past, current plans and projects have helped restore the forest and Friends of the Detroit River and other agencies will continue working to improve the area around it to protect the diverse animal and plant life that call it home.
- Invaders: Although they may seem natural to the untrained eye, there are many invasive species that have worked their way onto the island. Lovall lists phragmites, reed canary grass, and Japanese knotweed as some of the worst problems. He says some may have come in unintentionally from private and public planting projects but now they are competing with attempts to establish and grow endemic flora.
- The South Shore: Sandra and Lovall also took a look at the South Fishing Pier where further efforts to restore fish habitats have helped bring some species back to the island. Lovall explains that many fish were just coming through the area, but now they have a ground for spawning and habitat they can live in.