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Detroit International Wildlife Refuge

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is located along the lower Detroit River and western shoreline of Lake Erie, just 20 miles south of Detroit and 50 miles north of Toledo, Ohio. Situated in a major metropolitan area, the refuge’s location is truly unique.

In 2001, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established as a result of binational efforts from politicians, conservation leaders, and local communities to build a sustainable future for the Detroit River and western Lake Erie ecosystems. Because of this collaboration, international status was given to the refuge, making it the first of its kind in North America. The refuge consists of nearly 6,000 acres of unique habitat, including islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands within an authorized boundary extending along 48 miles of shoreline.

In 2004, the Detroit River Refuge acquired Humbug Marsh, a 410 – acre unit situated in Trenton and Gibraltar, Michigan. The parcel represents the last mile of undeveloped shoreline along the U.S. mainland of the Detroit River and contains critical habitat for many rare fish and wildlife species. The site has also been designated as Michigan’s only “Wetland of International Importance” by the 1971 Ramsar Convention.

Located adjacent to the Humbug Marsh unit of the refuge is the Refuge Gateway property, a former industrial manufacturing site that is being remediated and restored as an ecological buffer for the Marsh. The Gateway will also be the future home of the Refuge Visitor Center.

Our Primary Purposes:

  • Develop effective public and private partnerships to manage and promote the refuge through habitat conservation and environmental education
  • Establish an international conservation region where a clean environment fosters health and diversity of wildlife, fish, and plant resources through effective habitat management and resource protection
  • Provide a resting and feeding sanctuary for waterfowl through the protection of wild celery beds surrounding islands within the refuge acquisition boundary
  • Provide for quality public recreation opportunities that are compatible with the vision of the Detroit River IWR including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation.

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