Tom Wey presented a technical presentation on the habitat restoration of the St. Clair River in April at the 2015 SAME Chicago Post Industry Day, under the Ecosystem Restoration technical track. See an abstract of the technical presentation below.
Fish and wildlife habitat originally present in the St. Clair River have been adversely impacted during the past century by commercial development of the river shoreline, filling of coastal wetlands, and creation of deep-draft shipping channels. Shoreline development has promoted the scouring of the near shore substrates. More than 80% of the coastal wetlands, once found along the entire Michigan shoreline of the river, have been filled and are now occupied by housing and commerce. Since 1933, more than 40 miles of deep-draft shipping channels have been constructed between Lake Huron and Lake Saint Clair and these activities and associated disposal of dredging spoils has disturbed a large portion of the natural substrate. Restoration of this navigable, high-traffic, swift-current river habitat to a more natural state was completed under a USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office Construction (GLNPOC) Contract and included the following features of work:
- Substrate restoration by installation of cobble substrate at selected areas of concern (AOCs) in South Port Huron near the Blue Water Bridge and along the shoreline below Roberts Landing in Cottrellville Township;
- Shoreline stabilization by construction of near shore breakwaters, and the creation of a sinuous shoreline;
- Fish habitat construction by installation of log/root wads, woody debris, and river boulders in the degraded, urban Portions of the St. Clair River, to create spawning habitat and enhance connectivity between upstream spawning grounds with downstream coastal wetland and nursery habitat;
- Native vegetation replenishment in the submerged, riparian, and upland areas; and
- Water fowl and bluebird housing structure construction. Near shore habitat areas may now be further restored to enhance the diversity and density of valuable wildlife.