TRENTON (WWJ/AP) – North America’s only international refuge will soon welcome families for world-class fishing, envisioned as part of a hub for environmental education and outdoor recreation.

Refuge Manager Dr. John Hartig says the Detroit River International Refuge in Trenton will get private funding to build a school ship dock and more.

“Also, at the end of it will be this fishing pier, this incredibly structure that can accommodate a hundred fishermen at a time to catch a trophy walleye,” Hartig told WWJ Newsradio 950.

Hartig said the Detroit River, along with Lake Erie, is the walleye capital of the world.

“And now, kids and families can go out there for free — and if they don’t have a boat they can fish from shore and get an opportunity to catch a trophy walleye, or fish in more shallow waters and catch a pan fish,” Hartig said.

The dock and pier are part of a $2.8 million project at the Refuge Gateway, which is located next to the refuge’s 410-acre Humbug Marsh unit. Canadian railroad operator CN is contributing $200,000 for construction of the dock and pier at the former industrial site in the Detroit suburb of Trenton.

“CN is honored to be part of this … project that showcases sustainable redevelopment of a brownfield site,” John Orr, vice president and chief safety and sustainability officer of CN, said in a statement.

So far, $1.8 million has been raised for the project. Organizers hope to raise $1 million more by year’s end so construction may begin in 2013.

The dock will be for the Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes school ship that will host children from Detroit-area schools on the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. The ship is expected to use the Detroit River and waters of the wildlife refuge as a “living laboratory,” offering day trips for students.

The Wayne County-owned Refuge Gateway site also will house a visitor center. The property where the center is planned was the site of an auto parts making plant for more than four decades starting in the 1940s. It was purchased in 2002 by the county for use linked to the wildlife refuge.

Last fall, a shoreline restoration project was complete that included restoring a natural shoreline, removal of human-placed fill and debris to restore over three acres of riparian buffer habitat, and construction of a second access road and kayak landing.

The refuge itself includes more than 5,700 acres along 48 miles of the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie.

Get more information about the refuge at this link.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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