The Ford House wants to return one mile of Lake St. Clair shoreline to nature

Goodbye, broken slabs of concrete and seawall.

Hello, nature.

The Ford House — the historic estate of Edsel and Eleanor Ford on the banks of Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Shores — has announced plans to return an approximate mile of shoreline back to nature.

The Ford Cove Shoreline and Coastal Wetland Restoration Project will affect more than 17 acres of surrounding coastal marsh, nearshore habitat, and forested wetlands, removing non-natural features like concrete and seawall in favor of a natural shoreline. Native plant species will be reintroduced.

“Roughly 200 species of birds use Ford Cove and the land around it. When we restore the shoreline, the birds can have access to the native plants we add, and the insects that live on them. The fish and other aquatic species will be able to thrive,” says Kevin Drotos, Ford House Invasive Species and Woodland Specialist.

“All these things benefit the ecosystem. Ford House is taking an interest in the health of the environment, hand-in-hand with caring for the estate’s history and landscapes.”

The Ford House launched the project in partnership with the Great Lakes Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A feasibility study will be held this spring to evaluate the plan. Michigan-based OHM Advisors will conduct the study, which is expected to take approximately 18 months.

“Ninety-nine percent of Lake St. Clair’s shoreline is not in its original condition, so Ford House will be recreating the natural world, and that’s an exciting process. After the study is complete, we will get to make Ford House’s shores and wetlands a more functional part of the natural community,” Drotos says.

The Ford House contends that non-natural shoreline features create heavier waves, disrupting the natural ecosystem.

“The Ford Cove project has the potential to benefit numerous important species native to the Great Lakes, as well as some federally protected species like freshwater mussels,” says Erika Jensen, interim executive director of the Great Lakes Commission.

“We’re pleased to be working with Ford House and continuing our partnership with NOAA to restore this and other priority sites across the Great Lakes basin.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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