History of Nature Area
40.5-acre marsh and upland area was previously a Navy seaplane base
(1927) and also a NIKE missile base (1954 to 1963). In 1972 the Defense
Department turned this site over to the Environmental Protection Agency
for use as a wetlands research area. In April of 1990, at the center
of the property, six acres of meadowland were still completely covered
with pavement and huge steel doors were lying on the ground. Underground
there were three large vaults each containing a NIKE missile. In 1990,
the doors were removed, the cement was hauled away, and Nature, with
a little help from man, could once again flourish. In May of 1993, the
Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") granted stewardship of the area
to the Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy. In 2009 the Nature Area was made part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The Conservancy is here
to protect and assist Nature in reclaiming this area.
The Grosse Ile Nature & Land
Conservancy is dedicated to this reclamation
project. Its Vision is one of safekeeping Grosse Ile land and water
resources for future generations.
Nature Area is a unique blend of wetland, marsh, woods and a
transitional prairie. Because of the diversity of the land, flora and
fauna, it is an exceptionally rich area for study. The variety of aquatic
birds is a delight to watch and catalog. This is truly a community project
with local teachers and naturalists helping to blaze the trails and
identify plants and animals. Scout Troops and local school children
have aided in cutting paths, spreading wood chips and building steps.
Local businesses often donate equipment, effort and supplies for other
Scout Projects such as tables and benches.
There is still much to do as we try to return the
white clover meadow back to a prairie filled with native grasses and
wildflowers. Watching the natural succession as the various native plants
species attempt to reclaim their former dominance will be an exciting
time for both professional and amateur botanist alike. Children should
always be able to find new and interesting experiences as Nature proceeds
through the various seasons completing its tasks.
The Grosse Ile Nature Area is a volunteer
project of the Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy in cooperation
with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
For its work at the Nature Area, now a part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the Conservancy was awarded a Community Service Award for outstanding commitment and service from the Michigan Recreation and Park Association and the 2004 Environmental Achievement Award from the Environmental Management Association.
Holding the awards are Doug Thiel (left) and Bruce Jones (right)