TRENTON, Michigan — The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is getting a visitor center that will be used by school groups and others to help explore and understand wildlife that call the region home.
Ground was broken Friday for the 12,000-square-foot facility in Trenton, south of Detroit. The center is to be built at the Refuge Gateway, near the refuge's Humbug Marsh area, by fall 2015.
Wayne County, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others worked for nearly a decade on restoration of the Refuge Gateway. Located on the river's Trenton Channel, it was the site of a Chrysler manufacturing facility that was deactivated in 1990.
"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," according to a summary of the project.
The groundbreaking had been scheduled for last month but was postponed because of a lapse in federal appropriations during the partial government shutdown.
When built, officials say, the visitor center will include a theater, classrooms and offices along with a wildlife observation area and outdoor patios.
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge includes more than 5,700 acres along 48 miles of the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie. It bills itself as the first international refuge in North America and one of a few urban ones in the nation.