By David Runk, Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – An agreement to cooperatively manage more than 13,000 acres of land along the Detroit River and western Lake Erie will place an emphasis on conservation, officials announced Saturday.

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The agreement involves the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which already manages the more than 5,700-acre Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge along part of the river, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Both agencies have long managed land in the area.

“Collaborating on conservation work like this is not only smart, it is a model for other major urban areas and an opportunity to meet our missions together,” Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said in a statement.

With the agreement, officials plan to work together more on research, monitoring, conservation planning, restoration and public use opportunities.

“Fish and wildlife know no boundaries,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “This historic agreement will help … better manage this corridor as an ecosystem, in cooperation with our Canadian partners. I think this agreement is a model of cooperative conservation.”

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Those involved said the land will be managed with the “spirit and intent” of a 2001 agreement between the U.S. and Canada that led to the creation of the International Wildlife Refuge, which is located along 48 miles of the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie.

The International Wildlife Refuge focuses on conserving, protecting, and restoring habitat for birds, fish and other animals. It includes areas affected by decades of development and industrial pollution, and officials have expanded efforts to clean up and protect land in recent years.

Separately, an agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Essex Region Conservation Authority expands cooperative efforts between the U.S. and Canada. The Essex Region authority is the lead organization in the Western Lake Erie Watersheds Priority Natural Area in southwest Ontario.

“On the Canadian side we could see 12,000 acres of existing protected areas in southwest Ontario included in our international effort over the next 10 years,” Essex Region Conservation Authority General Manager Richard Wyma said of the agreement.

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