Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, along with Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans, Trenton Mayor Steven Rzeppa, and the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance (IWRA) have announced a soft opening date for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) Gateway. Beginning October 1, 2020, the lands and waters of the Refuge Gateway – a collaborative partnership that is owned and co-managed by Wayne County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – will open to the public every Thursday through Sunday, during daylight hours. This includes access to on-site parking, the 700-foot fishing pier, portions of Humbug Marsh Orange and Green Trails, Humbug Observation on deck, Monguagon Boardwalk, picnic tables, bike trails, and a few porta potties.
Please note that the visitor center – including exterior restrooms – will remain closed due to concerns related to public safety and COVID-19. Visitors are encouraged to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 safety guidelines throughout the site. An announcement will be made at a later date when the Visitor Center is ready to be opened.
“Opening the refuge for the public has been a long-time coming, but I’m thrilled the day is here and now the whole community can take advantage of this very special place,” said Dingell. “During COVID, everyone deserves the opportunity to be a tourist in their own community. We still have work to be done, volunteers will be trained, the visitor center will be opened down the road. But for now - being at the refuge truly reinforces one’s appreciation of the outdoors, and I hope everyone can visit soon.
"I am so excited that we are able to finally make this announcement together.” After years and years of leadership from Congresswoman Dingell and work by countless individuals and organizations, Congressman John Dingell’s vision is finally going to become a reality. Folks from across the state and country of all ages and backgrounds will be able to come here and enjoy all the wildlife, natural resources, and conservation efforts our area has to offer. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity we have to showcase this in Trenton and the impact it will have for generations,” said Trenton Mayor Steven Rzeppa.
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the first and only international refuge in North America and stretches along the shoreline of the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. The refuge focuses on conserving, protecting, and restoring habitats for 30 species of waterfowl, 117 kinds of fish, and over 300 species of birds, while providing quality opportunities for people to connect with nature. It is home to a variety of ecologically important bird species, including bald eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons; fish species including whitefish, sturgeon, salmon, perch, and walleye.
The Refuge Gateway embodies the vision of the refuge. Co-managed by Wayne County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it includes restored native habitat on the site of a former factory, a 700-foot fishing pier into the Detroit River, and a state-of-the-art LEED-certified visitor center and office area. The Refuge Gateway will provide public access to the river in Trenton, Michigan, and is the gateway into the hiking trails of the refuge’s Humbug Marsh, the last undeveloped mile along the U.S. side of the river. In 2017, the visitor center was named after John Dingell as a tribute to his decades of service in establishing and expanding the refuge.