US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Francoeur, S., L. Cargnelli, A. Cook, J. Hartig, J. Gannon, and G. Norwood, eds. 2012. State of the Strait: Use of Remote Sensing and GIS to Better Manage the Huron-Erie Corridor. Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, Occasional Publication No. 7, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada ISSN 1715-3980


Understanding the Patterns and Successes of Our Huron-Erie Corridor

The Huron-Erie Corridor, centered by Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, is an exceptional example of a place with a concentration of various natural and human boundaries, contrasts, and complex dynamics. The inherent diversity and abundance of habitats in the Corridor in relation to the North American continent and the Great Lakes Basin gives it a centrality that has long attracted both wildlife and people. Of primary importance is the U.S.-Canada border which bisects the Corridor, oft en cited as the location of the largest flow of transnational trade on Earth. Here, a combination of geographical and historical factors intersected with access to abundant natural resources to allow the creation of one of the most heavily industrialized waterways ever to exist. Unfortunately, nature was degraded by intense urbanization and industrialization to the point that by 1970 the St. Clair, Clinton, Rouge, Ecorse, and Detroit rivers, and the River Raisin, were grossly polluted, and Lake Erie was overwhelmed by excessive phosphorus loadings, wastewater treatment plant effluent that was only receiving primary or minimal treatment, and persistent toxic substances. Since then, great efforts have been made by many to preserve and restore environmental integrity, bringing ecosystems back to a level of health perhaps unimaginable 40 years ago.

Superimposed upon all this is the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge – established in 2001 as the only international wildlife refuge in North America. This unprecedented international wildlife refuge represents a major opportunity to continue to restore and protect ecosystems in a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable manner.

While environmental conditions within the Huron-Erie Corridor and Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge have improved substantially, certain challenges remain to be dealt with. Ecological threats from over a hundred invasive species continue to mount, and urbanization, agriculture, industry, and global climate change present their own management concerns. Scarce economic resources make it increasingly difficult for governments and stakeholders to provide support for environmental concerns. This means that money and efforts directed towards environmental cleanup and ecosystem restoration must be managed and deployed efficiently and effectively, as well as monitored to determine the success of natural resource management practices.