By DAVID RUNK
DETROIT (AP) – A planned groundbreaking for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge visitor center has been put on hold because of the partial federal government shutdown.
An event was scheduled for Wednesday in Trenton, but officials announced Monday it was postponed because of a lapse in federal appropriations. The 12,000-square-foot facility is to be built at the Refuge Gateway, near the refuge’s Humbug Marsh area.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, said in a statement he would like to see plans for the visitor center move forward soon.
“It’s an absolute shame that the partisan bickering and wayward ways of Washington have forced us to postpone this important event at the Refuge, but I’m hopeful a resolution will soon be reached and we can continue on with this planned project without further delay,” Dingell said.
In May, officials announced that major environmental restoration work was completed at the Refuge Gateway, a former industrial site along the Detroit River. Wayne County, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others worked for nearly a decade on the restoration. Located on the river’s Trenton Channel, it was the site of a Chrysler manufacturing facility that was deactivated in 1990.
A new groundbreaking date wasn’t immediately set. When built, officials say the visitor center will include a theater, classrooms and offices along with a wildlife observation area and outdoor patios. It’s expected to be used by school groups and others.
“Exhibits will highlight the natural history of the Refuge and surrounding area, and will feature hands-on/minds-on discovery opportunities,” a summary of the project states.
The refuge itself includes more than 5,700 acres along 48 miles of the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie.
The focus of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is on conserving, protecting and restoring habitat for a range of native fish and wildlife and their habitats and bills itself as the first international refuge in North America and one of a few urban ones in the nation.
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