Newsflash! Team Canada-Ontario released draft action plan today to help reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie!

Team Canada-Ontario released its draft action plan today to help reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie and combat harmful and nuisance algae blooms.

Its purpose is to share Canada and Ontario’s proposed actions, and invite Canadians, especially those living in the Great Lakes Basin, to contribute their comments, ideas and actions for inclusion in the action plan.

The draft action plan will be available for input until 09 May 2017.  

For your information, Team Canada-Ontario consists of two federal and three provincial government agencies:

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

The DRCC Presents: What Lies Below

Join the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup for a free screening of WHAT LIES BELOW!
DRCC Presents What Lies Below

What Lies Below is a Canadian documentary featuring Lawrence Gunther, a blind graduate from York University’s master’s program in environmental studies and a highly regarded speaker, writer and radio host on the subject of fishing and Canada’s aquatic ecosystems. He is visiting and interviewing people across Canada to learn about their concerns and hopes for their local fisheries. The documentary explores what local people are doing to ensure the future sustainability of Canada’s water and traditional fisheries. Lawrence Gunther draws on his perspective to explore and share what others aren’t able to see taking place beneath the waves.

A panel discussion with Lawrence Gunther and local experts will follow the film!

Event Details

Doors open at 6:30 and the film will begin at 7:00. ADMISSION IS FREE BUT REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please register here.


Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Claire Sanders,, 519-776-5209 ext 356

Do I have to bring ticket to the event?

No – we’ll have a registration list in the lobby of the theatre to check you in when you arrive!

What if I reserve tickets but end up not being able to attend?

If your plans change and you’re unable to attend, please let us know by emailing or calling as soon as possible so that we can offer the tickets to others. THIS IS A SOLD OUT EVENT EVERY YEAR – but, unfortunately, seats go empty because of ‘no shows’. Please be considerate of those on the wait list and cancel your registration!


Celebrate Earth Day in the Windsor-Essex Community!

There are many exciting Earth Day events happening in Windsor-Essex this year! Read about them below and contact the organizers for more information.

Earth Day 2017 Student Contest

In recognition of Canada’s 150th birthday, we’re asking students to envision what they want our environment to look like in the next 150 years. We’re inviting students to tell us what they want for the future of our ecosystems. This contest asks students to dream big on what could or should be done! Whether it’s solar panels on every home, or forests on every street, we want to hear their vision for the environment well into the future!

Click here for full contest details.

Submit entries digitally by email to with the subject heading “Earth Day Art Contest” or via mail to:
Essex Region Conservation
RE: Earth Day Contest Entries
360 Fairview Avenue W. Suite 311
Essex, ON. N8M 1Y6

Submissions must include the student’s name, grade, school name, as well as their teacher’s name and email address. Submission deadline is April 15, 2017 by 4pm.

Earth Day Community Tree Planting

April is Earth Month, and the DRCC and the Essex Region Conservation Earth Day PromoAuthority is inviting everyone to join us on Sunday, April 23, 2017 from 10am – Noon to help plant more than 2,000 native trees and shrubs in the City of Windsor. While we have shovels to share, you may wish to consider bringing your own to this free event! Event happens at Florence & Wyandotte in Windsor. Parking will be available at the Sand Point Beach Parking Lot off Riverside Drive.

Register your Green Team using the form here! Teams of 10 or more receive special recognition! Click on the poster to download a PDF copy.

To see a map of the event location and parking spots, please view the online map here.

Earth Day Windsor Essex

Join the City of Windsor to celebrate Earth Day 2017 on Sunday, April 23 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Malden Park (4200 Malden road). This event is free for the public. There will be over 40 environmental exhibits; wildflower planting; arts and crafts; a nature scavenger hunt; and many more environmental activities!  

Earth Day is a day on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the earth’s natural environment. Our organization aims to educate residents on environment and sustainability issues using hands-on, interactive methods. Over 45 different organizations participate in this event, designed to provide a voice and venue to environmental causes. Earth Day Windsor Essex has been celebrated since 1989.

For general information, call 311. For detailed inquiries, please​ contact:

Environment & Sustainability Coordinator
Phone: 519-253-7111 ext. 3290


Detroit River Canadian Cleanup recognizes World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day , March 3 2017 wwd_e

World Wildlife Day is celebrated on March 3 each year to celebrate all of the different plants and wild animals on Earth and raise awareness on the importance of conservation, highlight threatened or endangered species and connect individuals to action to do their part to protect wildlife. On March 3 in 1973, signatures completed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This year’s theme is ‘Listen to the Young Voices,’ encouraging young people around the world to find out what wildlife and conservation means to them, and what they can do to take action for the future of both wild animals and plants (World Wildlife Day, 2017).

Why is the Detroit River a significant wildlife area?

Prior to first European settlers in the Detroit River watershed, the area was abundant with fish, wildlife, coastal wetlands and unspoiled drinking water. The Detroit River ecosystem since then has significantly changed. Agriculture, intense urbanization, and industrialization led to a loss of 97% of the original wetlands and, consequently, the Detroit River suffered habitat and biodiversity loss. For this reason, among others, the river was designated as one of the original 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) in 1987 (Detroit River Canadian Cleanup, 2010, p. 1).

Despite the historical issues, the Detroit River ecosystem is recognized as one of the most biodiverse areas within the Great Lakes Basin, and one of the greatest rivers in North America. It is a connecting channel that links the Upper Great Lakes to the Lower Great Lakes, and is part of the Huron Erie Corridor. The resource provides is invaluable to millions of people living in both Canada and the United States who call it their ‘backyard,’ as well as home to many different species of plants and wildlife. Its ecological value provides purpose to those living in this area as it draws individuals outside to explore it and inevitably enhances the quality of life for those who acknowledge its value.

The Detroit River Canadian Cleanup (DRCC) implements the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the Canadian side of the Detroit River Area of Concern (DRCC, 2010, p. 4-5). Within the RAP, loss of fish and wildlife habitat and degradation of fish and wildlife populations are recognized as beneficial use impairments that require protection, restoration and enhancement of coastal wetlands, terrestrial and aquatic habitats to repair habitat for wildlife (DRCC, 2010, p. 3).  

1 4

Degradation of Fish and

Wildlife Populations

Degradation of Fish and

Wildlife Habitat

How biodiverse is the Detroit River?

Lake Whitefish and Lake Sturgeon are spawning in the Detroit River again since a disappearance at the beginning of the 1900s. Improved water quality and habitat restoration have encouraged these species to come back to the river (DRCC, 2010, p. 34).

A partnership between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry formed in 2015 to conduct a full creel survey of the Detroit River. In total, anglers put in over 600,000 hours on the river and the majority of the recreational fisheries catch effort (54%) took place between April and May 2015. Over 500,000 White Bass, 156,000 Walleye, 192,000 Yellow Perch, 100,000 Smallmouth Bass, and 4,000 Muskellunge were caught from the Detroit River. For more information about the Detroit River Creel Survey, please review the DRCC’s 2015/16 Annual Report (DRCC, 2016, p. 6-7). It is estimated that over 65 species of fish use the Detroit River for mating, breeding and feeding (IAGLR, 2017). Other common fish to the Detroit River include: Pumpkinseed (aka Sunfish), Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Whitefish, Lake Sturgeon, Black Crappie, Northern Pike and more (Michigan Department Health and Human Services, 2017, p. 12-13).

The Detroit River intersects two major flyways (Mississippi Flyway and Atlantic Flyway), and over 350 bird species and other migratory species have been recorded (including waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, non-raptors, songbirds and butterflies). As the Detroit River is a major waterfowl migration corridor, 29 species of waterfowl are commonly found in the Detroit River. It is estimated that three million ducks, geese, swans and coots migrate annually through the region (DRCC, 2010, p. 35).

Coastal wetlands and shorelines within the Detroit River provide habitat and breeding sites for waterfowl such as American Black Duck, Canvasback, Common Merganser, Wood Duck, Mallard, Common Loon, Belted Kingfisher, Canada Geese, Trumpet Swan, Tundra Swan, American Woodcock and more. Other common species you might come across in a Detroit River wetland include: White Water Lily, Cattail, Reed Canary Grass, Canada Waterweed, American Bittern, Mallard, Green Frog, Tree Swallow, Great Blue Heron, Northern Leopard Frog, American Bullfrog, Marsh Marigold, and many different types dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies.  

There are multiple locations along the Detroit River where Bald Eagles are nesting, producing and raising young. The breeding population has increased significantly from early monitoring programs, suggesting that the health Detroit River has improved for the birds to sustain a stable population (DRCC, 2010, p. 35).  

The Detroit River hosts the International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWF), which was signed into law in 2001 through the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Act, the first one in North America. This area is actively managed and supports multiple partnerships to achieve conservation success (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2017). To learn more, watch this short video by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the DRIWF.  

There are a variety of mammals who call the Detroit River home such as Raccoon, Striped Skunk, Opossum, White-Tailed Deer, Coyote, Gray Fox, Eastern Cottontail, Muskrat, Mink, Beaver as well as multiple mole and mice species.

What are some projects that have taken place in the Detroit River to address the two beneficial use impairments mentioned above?

  • Lake Sturgeon habitat restoration at Fighting Island
  • Windsor Riverfront shoreline stabilization and habitat enhancement (Elm Avenue to Caron Avenue, Langlois to Moy Avenue)
  • Detroit River and River Canard stewardship initiative
  • Fort Malden shoreline stabilization and habitat enhancement
  • McKee Park improvements and Lake Sturgeon habitat creation
  • Upper Canard River low flow augmentation
  • C. Row Expressway cloverleaf naturalization
  • Goose Bay shoreline naturalization habitat enhancement
  • Canard marsh improvements and Turkey Island enhancement
  • Little River rehabilitation
  • Turkey Creek channel improvements and water quality assessments
  • City of Windsor Candidate Natural Heritage Site Assessment (CNHS)
  • Downspout Disconnection Program with the City of Windsor
  • Household Mercury and Chemical Waste Collection
  • Community organizations such as the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup, Essex Region Conservation Authority, the Essex County Field Naturalists Club, Little River Enhancement Group, Friends of Canard River, Friends of Turkey Creek Watershed have hosted cleanups and plantings in the Detroit River and three sub-watersheds to improve habitat quantity and quality.

For more detailed information for the projects listed above, and to access the complete list of projects from 1998 to 2008, please review the Detroit River Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 (2010) document from pages 82 to 118 (DRCC, 2010, p. 82-118).

As the international community celebrates World Wildlife Day on March 3 2017, it is crucial to remember that action starts with the individual. What can you do to protect wildlife along the Detroit River?

  • Always dispose solid and liquid hazardous and non-hazardous waste properly. It is important to be environmentally responsible and take care of the Detroit River system! Visit Windsor Essex Solid Waste Authority’s website for information regarding waste disposal in Essex region. This includes not pouring anything down the storm drain.
  • If you see illegal dumping or a spill in and along the water channel, report it using any of the following ways:
    • 1-800-265-7672 (area code 519 only)
    • Public Information Centre: 1-800-565-4923
    • Spills Action Centre: 1-800-268-6060
    • Pollution Hotline: 1-866-663-8477
  • Watch the DRCC videos Wastewater: Where does it go? and 1, 2, and TP, that’s it! Visit our site: ca/media.
  • Avoid water activities such as washing your vehicle in areas where the wastewater will flow into the storm sewer. Washing on a lawn or gravel surface allows wastewater to be absorbed by soil below
  • Keep the storm sewers clean and void of litter and debris during heavy rain events. Rainwater is the only liquid that should go down the storm sewers.
  • Disconnecting downspouts frees up capacity in the sewers during a storm event as they allow water to flow across the lawn. Also installing a rain barrel will collect this water during a storm and can be used in your garden on dry days. Both these actions help reduce the volume of sewage and or runoff that can end up in the Detroit River untreated. Check out the City of Windsor’s Downspout (Eavestrough) Disconnection page for more information.
  • Check out the DRCC’s Publications page to download copies of: Detroit River Watershed Tour information, A Guide to Native Plants, How to Create a Rain Garden, Go Natural: Pull Don’t Spray and Protecting our River from your Household Chemical Waste.
  • Get involved with community organizations such as the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup, Essex Region Conservation Authority, the Essex County Field Naturalists Club, Little River Enhancement Group, Friends of Canard River, Friends of Turkey Creek Watershed who are actively engaged in projects that improve habitat within the Detroit River watershed.
    • Sign up for the DRCC Newsletter, The Current to keep up to date on events in the community

Detroit River Wildlife Gallery


Detroit River Canadian Cleanup. (2016). Annual review 2015 & 2016. Results for the Detroit River creel survey. p. 6-7. Retrieved from

Green N.D., Cargnelli L., Briggs T., Drouin. R, Child M., Esbjerg J., Valiante M., Henderson T., McGregor D., and D. Munro, eds. (2010). Detroit River Canadian remedial action plan: stage 2 report. Detroit River Canadian Cleanup, Publication No. 1, Essex, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved from:

International Association for Great Lakes Research. (2017). Conserving Detroit River habitats. Retrieved from:

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). Eat safe fish guide. p. 12-13. Retrieved from:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (2017). About the refuge. Retrieved from  

World Wildlife Day, 3 March. (2017). About. Retrieved from

2017 Waterbird Counts

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Program

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Program is a program that works to identify, monitor, and conserve the world’s most important sites for birds and biodiversity.  Sites are designated using a science-based approach which sets criteria and thresholds for trigger species.  In Canada IBAs are triggered mainly by threatened species, and significant congregations of birds.  The exemplary IBA Caretaker Network (started in 2006 in B.C.) took off in Ontario in 2013.  Caretakers are volunteers who monitor bird populations, report on threats to IBAs, work with partners on stewardship activities, and help build community awareness about the importance of IBAs.

Lower Detroit River Important Bird and Biodiversity Area

The globally significant Lower Detroit River IBA which extends from the north end of Fighting Island to the mouth at Lake Erie, is important for congregations of birds and waterfowl. Ring-billed Gulls were originally a trigger species (in 1990 there were 34,021 pairs, 3.9% of the North American population on Fighting Island).  Recently the gull colony has changed, but Canvasbacks still occur in significant numbers (in 2015, birders counted 9000 along the IBA, 1.7% of its global population)!  The IBA is also a winter home to many Redheads and Common Mergansers.  Pollution of the river and surrounding wetland areas is the main conservation concern due to the high population along the river (Windsor, Detroit, LaSalle, Amherstberg).  Fortunately, organizations such as the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup and the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club are taking action to protect the area. 

2017 Waterbird Counts

On January 28th 2017, BSC and volunteers counted a total of 23 species and 4,391 individual birds (4,098 of them waterfowl). Numbers for trigger species of the IBA were 1,565 Canvasbacks, and 1,790 Redheads!

Stay tuned for the February 25th 2017 results!

Waterbird Count Gallery

Get Involved!

From tree plantings and clean ups, to advocacy and education programs, CLICK HERE to find out how you can be involved with protecting and enhancing the Detroit River.