Harrison TownshipAugust 1, 2013
Celebrating Lake St. Clair
By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Community leaders gathered to recognize and celebrate Lake St. Clair and Lake St. Clair Metropark’s vitality and impact on the area on July 31.
The Macomb County Chamber of Commerce hosted the 5th annual Lake St. Clair Appreciation Day on a moist Wednesday — a day complete with a boat ride, a trackless train ride, a proclamation, a dedication, and plenty of discussion about the role Lake St. Clair plays in the future of Michigan’s and Macomb County’s economy.
According to organizers, the invitation-only event was designed to educate and engage lawmakers, area business leaders and other interested parties on Lake St. Clair’s vital role as a tourism destination, lifestyle epicenter and economic engine for the county.
“We are pleased to host this annual event of key decision-makers to keep them up-
to-date on the important role that Lake St. Clair plays in our area’s blue economy,” said Grace Shore, CEO of the Macomb County Chamber.
A representative from Gov. Rick Snyder’s office presented a proclamation, deeming the last Wednesday in July Lake St. Clair Appreciation Day in Michigan.
The day started off at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club with remarks by John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center for the Brookings Institution, and Jim Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College. Attendees then boarded a private vessel and cruised to the 770-acre Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township for the dedication of the park’s new coastal marshland restoration and 700-foot-long boardwalk, and an overview of its eco-friendly parking lot.
In 2010, the county received a $1.5 million grant through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to restore nearly 500 acres of coastal marshland at the park, located at Metropolitan Parkway and Jefferson Avenue.
Officials said the project has restored up to 10 percent of the EPA’s Action Plan goals in an area that is one of the largest remaining coastal marshlands along Lake St. Clair. Great Lakes coastal marshland is considered to be the most productive natural system in the temperate zone and has decreased in the area for decades. This particular wetland area, which has been degraded over time by filling, construction or drainage ditches, now has an improved hydrological process and the native plant and wildlife species are being restored.
This project restores Macomb County’s natural coastal areas and helps make Harrison Township a destination for both tourists and residents, officials have said.
The boardwalk, a project that started last fall at Point Rosa Marsh near the Day Sail Launch area, has an observation deck and benches. The boardwalk was designed by ASTI Environmental of Brighton.
“This project is a great example of many partners working together to keep Macomb County environmentally friendly,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel in a prepared statement. “Protecting our coastal marshland, waterways, trees and other green assets is very important.”
The $3.3 million parking lot improvement project at the park began in May. A key element of that project is to redirect the flow of storm water from the existing outlet at Black Creek to the open-water outlet at Point Rosa Marsh.
Lake St. Clair has more than 400 square miles of recreational opportunity and is one of the country’s largest freshwater wetlands.
Lake St. Clair Appreciation Day event partners were Macomb County and the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce. Sponsors of the event were First State Bank, AT&T, Freedom Hill, Huntington Bank and McLaren Macomb.
The event was also attended by Gerard Santoro, program manager of Land and Water Resources for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development; Dianne Martin, director of Resources Assessment and Management for ASTI; and Paul Muelle, Natural Resources and Regulatory Compliance manager for Huron-Clinton Metroparks.