A $250,000 federal grant and a generous philanthropist will help a community foundation in Port Huron, Michigan transform a former industrial site into mile-long boardwalk along the St. Clair River.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Coastal Program recently awarded a $250,000 grant to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County to advance efforts to develop the Blue Water River Walk.
The river walk will be located on the south side of Port Huron, just south of where Lake Huron funnels into the St. Clair River. Work on the project could begin in 2012.
In addition to increasing public access to the St. Clair River, the project will create a more natural shoreline that provides habitat for fish and wildlife.
The project, located in the Congressional district of U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, may have never gotten off the ground were it not for the generosity of Jim Acheson. He is a local developer who has transformed a former industrial area known as Desmond Landing into an assortment of community-oriented structures, including the Blue Water YMCA and an office complex.
Port Huron’s Blue Water River Walk was inspired in part by the Detroit Riverwalk, which has transformed the Motor City’s waterfront and served as a catalyst for growth in the economically distressed city.
The Detroit Riverwalk project has demonstrated the economic value of restoring Great Lakes shorelines. The Detroit River waterfront, which was dominated for more than a century by industrial facilities, is now a magnet for local residents and tourists.
The Blue Water River Walk could produce similar results: The project is located at one of the best spots in the Great lakes to watch massive freighters traverse North America’s freshwater seas.