Wetland Restoration at a Former Nike Missile Base in the Great Lakes Basin

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Abstract

Restoration of an abandoned 16-ha Nike missile base site located on a former wetland in the lower Detroit River (Michigan, U.S.A.) was investigated with an emphasis on wetland restoration. The site included a 2.7-ha abandoned missile base, a 1.3-ha lake, 10.4 ha of emergent and submersed wetlands, and 1.8 ha of uplands. Aquatic beds in the shallow bay connected to the river supported floating leaved and submersed aquatics including Nymphaea tiiberosa, Vallisneria antericana, Elodea canadensis, and Heteranthera dubia, with mats of green, filamentous algae. A 10-ha diked wetland adjacent to the site was dominated by Typha spp., Salix spp., Nymphaea tuberosa, Myriophyllum spicatum, Elodea canadensis, Chara sp., and Juncus effusus. Restoration objectives included a nature preserve, an outdoor recreation area, an experimental wetland complex, and an environmental education center. Ten alternative designs were suggested, including four with wetlands open to the bay, three with diked wetlands, and the rest involving island construction, a reconstructed upland site, or a wetland research facility. Alternatives were evaluated for their contribution to local ecology, research, education and wildlife, ease of maintenance, and probability of success. Construction of a wetland resembling conditions before construction of the base was recommended for its low maintenance and opportunity for research on non diked wetland design and construction in protected bays in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Recreational and educational opportunities were also recommended as part of the site restoration.

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