Habitat Restoration in Great Lakes Areas of Concern: Clinton River

NOAA-GLC Regional Habitat Restoration Partnership

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are leading efforts to restore several critical Great Lakes Areas of Concerns (AOCs)— the worst “toxic hotspots” in the region. In 1987, the Clinton River was designated an AOC due to environmental degradation and pollution. Funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was distributed by the Environmental Protection Agency to a Regional Partnership between NOAA and GLC and was allocated to the restoration of the Clinton River. Currently, significant amount of work has been taken to restore the coastal wetlands by means of dredging and removing invasive Phragmites at Black Creek Marsh, within the AOC boundary.

Environmental Benefits:

  • Restored approximately two acres of degraded coastal wetland marsh habitat
  • Enhanced fish and wildlife habitat, primarily shallow water fish spawning locations.

Economic Benefits:

  • Increased recreation, tourism, and sport-fishing opportunities

Community Benefits:

  • Increased water based recreation (kayaking, paddling, wildlife viewing) at Lake St. Clair Metropark
  • Improved water quality and ecosystem health
  • Improved fishing and fish spawning at a popular publicly accessible location.

Clinton River Habitat Restoration Project

Located adjacent to Lake St. Clair and Lake St. Clair Metropark, the Clinton River houses biodiverse and crucial coastal wetland marsh habitat. However, a legacy of degradation caused by pollution, sediment contamination, high total dissolved solids, and habitat alteration led to the river’s designation as an Area of Concern (AOC) in 1987 under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

To address this designation, the Clinton River Restoration Project aimed to restore approximately two acres of critical wetland habitat and increase fish spawning and rearing habitat within the AOC boundary. Residents and visitors to Lake St. Clair Metropark will be able to enjoy more recreational activities, like fishing, wildlife viewing, and paddling, in a safer, cleaner, and more beautiful landscape.

Efforts to restore the wetlands at Lake St. Clair Metropark began in 2010 at Point Rosa Marsh utilizing funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and have continued at Black Creek Marsh with invasive species control (primarily Phragmites and flowering rush), as well as prescribed fire. The current work at the Black Creek Marsh included dredging of sediment to create shallow water habitat for fish spawning and rearing. This work not only improves habitat, but also allows easier access for future invasive species monitoring/control and provides a new network of water trails that can be used for kayaking, paddling, and fishing. The final portion of this project was funded through the NOAA-GLC Regional Partnership. Project partners continue to work to improve the coastal wetland habitat at the marsh and in the surrounding Clinton River Area of Concern.

Project Partners


The Clinton River Area of Concern has received over $30 million of funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Great Lakes Commission Regional Partnership. The GLRI is a federal program designed to protect and restore that largest system of fresh surface water in the world—the Great Lakes.

For More Information

Eric Ellis
Coastal Conservation and Habitat Restoration
Project Manager
Great Lakes Commission
[email protected]

Tyler Mitchell
Chief of Natural Resources and Regulatory Compliance
Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority
[email protected]

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