Soft Shoreline Engineering Case Studies
Elizabeth Park – Phase 1 North River Walk - Site #15
Project Goals and Objectives: Stabilize 183 meters (600 feet) of shoreline and enhance underwater fish habitat
Project Description: Elizabeth Park is a 66-hectare (162-acre) park located on the lower Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan. It is the oldest county park in Michigan and was bequeathed to Wayne County Park Trustees in 1919 by the children of Elizabeth Slocum. Elizabeth Park is in an island-like setting along the Detroit River with more than 1,067 meters (3,500 feet) of shoreline. In 1910, a concrete breakwall was constructed to stabilize the shoreline and prevent erosion. In 90 years of use, the concrete breakwall began to deteriorate. Plans were then developed to restore the shoreline to a more natural state that provided fish and wildlife habitat. The plans included stabilizing the shoreline using soft engineering techniques and creating two oxbow islands for nursery habitat for fish. Wayne County Parks undertook this work in restoring and upgrading the river walk at Elizabeth Park as part of a larger regional effort to achieve the Detroit River greenway vision.
This project achieved the primary goals of stabilizing the shoreline and providing public access, but also enhanced fish and wildlife habitat, improved recreational opportunities like fishing, and preserved an important part of the community’s heritage. This project was stimulated by a Wayne County survey of community attitudes regarding economic development in the Downriver area. It revealed that the Detroit River was recognized as one of Downriver’s most treasured and attractive assets. One specific finding was that 74 percent of the survey respondents thought riverfront development should focus on recreational areas for residents, including parks, marinas, and opportunities for boating and fishing. The Elizabeth Park River walk project was funded with $750,000 from the Recreation Bond Program of the Clean Michigan Initiative and $250,000 in matching funds from Wayne County. The funds were awarded in 2000. Construction was completed in 2001.
Cost: $1 million
Partners: Clean Michigan Initiative, Wayne County Parks, and Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative
Ecological Effectiveness: Prior to shoreline restoration using soft engineering techniques, the 1910 concrete breakwall provided no fish and wildlife habitat. After shoreline restoration was completed, two gill nets were set in the spring of 2007 immediately offshore from the restored wetlands of the North Shore River walk. Both gill nets were 53 meters long and were set for 24 hours. Two spawning ready female walleyes and 23 adult male walleyes were caught during this 24 hour period. No egg deposition was found on egg mats. Additional monitoring is required to document ecological effectiveness.
Restoration Contacts: Wayne County Parks
Monitoring Contact: Jim Boase of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service