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Greater Detroit
AHR Initiative

Leveraging Funding for River Improvement Projects

Protecting Natural Assets and Wildlife Habitat

Restoring River Shoreline

Private Sector Leadership

MAC-DRIWR Fellowship Program





Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative

From Detroit’s very birth to the present day, the Detroit River remains Southeast Michigan’s most significant natural resource and economic asset. It served as the transportation corridor that led to the founding and settlement of the region as well as helped produce an industrial economy that put the world on wheels. And the Detroit River is increasingly being recognized as a major regional recreational attraction, environmental resource, economic driver, and key asset in enhancing and promoting the quality of life Southeast Michigan has to offer residents and visitors.

Communities and businesses up and down the 32-mile riverfront are literally transforming the Detroit River from their “back porch” to their “front porch”. Greenways are being created from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie and up tributaries like the Rouge, Ecorse, and Huron Rivers. Waterfront redevelopment is resulting in dramatic revitalization of established communities and producing important economic benefits. Bold projects are underway to recognize and preserve the river's tremendous heritage as well as protect internationally significant wildlife and natural habitat.

Leading the Revitalization of a Regional Resource
Leading this amazing transformation is the Greater Detroit American Heritage River (AHR) Initiative of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition. Since the Detroit River's designation as an American Heritage River in 1998, MAC has led and supported the AHR Initiative. Designed to protect environmental resources, promote economic development, and celebrate history and culture along the 32-mile Detroit River, the AHR Initiative helps communities and businesses identify, plan, acquire resources for, and execute projects that enchance the river and its surrounding environs.

Progress Through Partnerships
With the assistance of the AHR Initiative, community partners along the Detroit River have helped leverage more than $45 million for projects that have environmental, recreational, and economic benefits for Metropolitan Detroit – from brownfield redevelopment and constructing riverfront greenways to restoring and protecting wildlife habitat, remediating contaminated areas, and renovating historic structures. 

Learn more about how MAC’s collaborative approach leverages funding and resources to revitalize the Detroit River and its watershed >>

Current Efforts
MAC is currently collaborating with partners to manage or provide support for a variety of river-related projects aimed at improving the accessibility to Southeast Michigan’s great natural resources and enhancing the quality of the environment. These projects include:

  • Managing the first-phase development of a new fishing pier and boat dock at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Gateway, a project that, once completed, will provide accessible fishing to one of the largest walleye fisheries in North America.
  • Supporting the first phase of a 40-acre coastal wetland restoration project near Lake Erie in Monroe County that will ultimately help provide feeding and resting habitat for most of the avian species that migrate annually through the Detroit River corridor.
  • Helping  construct an environmental education shelter at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Gateway to provide a unique venue for a hands-on, outdoor learning experience that will be open year-round and, because it will be ADA-compliant, accessible by people of all capabilities.
  • Assisting the City of Monroe and other partners to restore about 500 feet of shoreline along the River Raisin at the DTE Energy Monroe Power Plant to a more natural condition, creating fish and migratory bird habitat, and enhancing recreation opportunities in this area.

© 2012 Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC)