The Detroit River's recovery
Written by Windsor Star   
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 19:50
The discovery of a beaver -- and lodge -- in the Detroit River has understandably caused a stir. But the beaver's return to the river -- after nearly a century -- is more than a curiosity. As John Hartig, the Detroit River refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said: "It's part of that larger story of ecological recovery."

The battle to clean up the Detroit River is a long way from over, but there has been a remarkable improvement in water quality and wildlife habitats over the past four decades.

For example: The river had its first documented successful spawning of lake whitefish in 2006. Lake sturgeon are also reproducing in the river after they had stopped spawning from the 1970s to 1999.

The walleye population of Lake Erie and the Detroit River -- 30 years ago considered to be in a crisis situation -- has rebounded to such a degree that the lake and river are now considered the "Walleye Capital of the World."

Bald eagles and peregrine falcons are nesting along the river area again.

There's also been a 90 per cent drop in phosphorous loading from sewage plants and a 99 per cent drop in oil discharges over the past 35 years.

As Hartig says, this isn't just a good news story for fish and wildlife: "If it's cleaner for them, it's cleaner for us, too."
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