MONROE - North America's first international wildlife refuge has expanded with the inclusion of Plum Creek, 126 acres in Monroe County.
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Reps. John Dingell (D., Dearborn) and Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), and Michigan Lt. Gov. John D. Cherry, Jr., were present for a ceremony in Monroe yesterday to sign the deed that incorporates the land into the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge spans 5,100 acres from the mouth of the Detroit River to Lake Erie in Monroe County.
The Monroe County commissioners unanimously approved legislation in March that awarded the wetland to the wildlife refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"To have a world-class wildlife refuge that is accessible to people is a really a great benefit to conservation," Mr. Kempthorne said.
Plum Creek Bay, a coastal wetland habitat, is home to over 40 species of fish.
It also is inhabited by 29 species of waterfowl and 300 species of migratory birds.
Management of the refuge is shared by the United States and Canada.
Mr. Dingell, a lifelong conservationist, spearheaded the move by Congress to create the refuge and emphasized the importance of preserving the land.
"We borrow this world from those who come before us," he said.
"I want to preserve this valuable land for me, my kids, and the generation that will follow them," he added.
President Bush signed legislation in December, 2001, establishing the first International Wildlife Refuge in North America.
"This brings me more joy than anything else I do," Mr. Dingell said.