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Detroit River International Wildlife Rescue expands with acquisition of more land

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge begins soft opening on Thursday
Posted at 8:34 AM, Feb 21, 2024

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in Trenton is expanding, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

They have added nearly 20 acres of the Robert and Laurie Sharkus Tract to the wildlife refuge system.

According to the USFWS, the tract is adjacent to both the refuge's Strong and Burke tracts and has a variety of habitats.

The agency said that staff hope to plant native warm-season grasses in the upland portions of the tract as part of restoration efforts, however, it will remain closed to public access.

Located along the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only international wildlife refuge in North America. It contains more than 6,200 acres of habitat made up of more than 30 separate parcels of land.

The plan for the refuge began in the early 2000s when then-Rep. John Dingell and then-Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Herb Grey worked to form a group of local, regional, state and federal agencies to establish a refuge. The process began in 2001 when then-President George W. Bush signed legislation John Dingell wrote to create the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The visitor center was named after John as a tribute to his service.

The refuge had a soft opening in the fall of 2020 but had limited access due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People can visit the grounds of the facility for self-guided tours seven days a week during daylight hours. The John D. Dingell Jr. Visitor Center is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and parking lots and hiking trails are open dusk to dawn every day.