ERCA honoured with John D. Dingell Friend of the Refuge award

ERCA board member Sue Desjarlais and Danielle Breault Stuebing, director of community outreach services, receive the John D. Dingell Friend of the Refuge Award from Refuge Manager, Dr. John Hartig. (Submitted photo)

ERCA board member Sue Desjarlais and Danielle Breault Stuebing, director of community outreach services, receive the John D. Dingell Friend of the Refuge Award from Refuge Manager, Dr. John Hartig.
(Submitted photo)

Special to the RTT

GROSSE ILE, MICHIGAN – The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance (IWRA) held its ninth annual benefit dinner in continued support of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) recently with the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) picking up one of the awards.

The event was held in the Refuge community of Wyandotte at the Silver Shores Waterfront. The outdoor location provided a striking waterfront view of the Detroit River with 300 in attendance including special guests Congressman John D. Dingell and Senator Carl Levin.

Three John D. Dingell Friend of the Refuge Awards were given in recognition of leadership and dedication to conservation on the Detroit River and western Lake Erie Basin.

This year’s honorees were:

Ms. Paula Boase (Individual) for professional grant administration support for the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge that contributes to the quality of life in the Down River Community.  Ms. Boase has promoted “placemaking” and brownfield cleanup of the Refuge Gateway, the site for the future Visitor Center now under construction. Her relationship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as other civic entities has contributed to the overall success of the Refuge. Paula was present to graciously accept her Pewabic tile award with Refuge Manager, John Hartig.

Essex Region Conservation Authority (Not-For-Profit Organization) A key organization of Canada is the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA). Thanks to the leadership of Richard Wyma, ERCA general manager, the “Western Lake Erie Watershed Priority Natural Area” was adopted by Canadian partners on September 27, 2012. This enlarged the scope of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge exponentially. ERCA is also recognized for being the lead organization in constructing the Fighting Island Sturgeon Reef. Accepting the award was Danielle Stuebing and Sue Desjarlais with Refuge Manager, John Hartig.

Hamilton-Anderson Associates (Corporate Award) When it comes to design, Hamilton-Anderson Associates excels as is seen by their work on the Refuge Gateway master plan. Hamilton-Anderson Associates also played a critical role in the Byways to Flyways Bird Driving Tour map and the Detroit Heritage River Water Trail map. Mr. Kent Anderson and Burke Jenkins accepted the award from Refuge Manager, John Hartig. The DRIWR represents a new model for conservation: restoring habitat in an urban area through public-private partnerships, becoming a blueprint for revitalization of nature in urban areas across the nation.

What was once just a 300-acre Refuge has now grown to almost 6,000 acres in just over ten years on the U.S. mainland, in addition to the 4,777 acres in the Canadian Registry of Lands for the Western Lake Erie Watersheds Priority Natural Area.

As of 2013, 18,462 acres of land in southwestern Ontario and southeast Michigan are now being managed collaboratively for conservation and outdoor recreation in the spirit and intent of the 2001 Conservation Vision and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deliver the mission of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, North America’s first international wildlife refuge – working through partnerships to protect, conserve, and manage the Refuge’s wildlife and habitats; and to create exceptional conservation, recreational and educational experiences, to develop the next generation of conservation stewards.

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