Soft Shoreline Engineering Case Studies
Northeast and Northwest Shore of Fighting Island - Site #30 & #31
Project Goals and Objectives: Stabilize shoreline and enhance aquatic habitat
Project Description: Originally settled by the French during the 1700s, this 1,500-acre island has had numerous owners. It was in the late 1700s Native Americans named it Fighting Island because it was used by them to attack passing British ships. In the mid- to late-1800s, several prize fights were held on the island. A number of attempts were later made to build a resort on the island, however each failed. Finally in 1918 the land was bought by John B. Ford of the Michigan Alkali Company to treat the Company's effluent. Michigan Alkali Company became Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation which was then bought by BASF. Today, Fighting Island is privately owned by BASF Corporation.
Fighting Island was historically used for disposal of alkaline byproducts primarily from the manufacture of soda ash and other lime-based products. Disposal occurred in three settling beds on the southern three-quarters of the island. The settling beds were active from 1924 to 1982. The beds hold approximately 20 million cubic meters of material, mostly calcium chloride, sodium chloride, coke ashes, unreacted limestone, and limestone impurities such as silica, alumina, and metallic oxides. These byproducts were pumped in slurry to Fighting Island where they were allowed to dry and decant. The grain size typically is in the silt to fine silt size range.
Beginning in the mid-1970s and continuing today, BASF actively encourages re-vegetation on Fighting Island. Early efforts focused on increasing stability of the perimeter containment dikes. The re-vegetation goals have expanded steadily to include reducing dust problems, increasing wildlife habitat, controlling runoff, enhancing physical appearance, and demonstrating soft engineering of shorelines.
Over the last two decades, BASF has made substantial progress in re-vegetation of the island and enhancing wildlife habitat. These once barren settling beds, where nothing could live, are being rehabilitated. A variety of prairie plants, wetlands, and wooded habitats once again exist on the southern end of Fighting Island. Pheasant, turkey, deer, fox, rabbit, owl, and numerous other animals live on this island in growing populations.
The most recent ecological improvement to Fighting Island has been demonstrating soft engineering of shorelines. BASF, working in partnership with Essex Region Conservation Authority, has designed and implemented soft engineering practices at several sites along the shore of the island. In each case, the shoreline was stabilized, aquatic habitat enhanced, shoreline sinuosity increased, runoff decreased, and aesthetic appearance improved.
Shoreline sinuosity was increased by constructing limestone groynes along the shoreline that increased stability and enhanced habitat
Cost: Northeast-$60,000; Northwest-$6,000
Timeframe: Northeast-1996; Northwest-2007
Partners: Northeast- BASF Corporation and Essex Region Conservation Authority; Northwest-BASF Corporation
Ecological Effectiveness: No post-project monitoring of ecological effectiveness to date
Restoration Contact: BASF Corporation