Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

(Music Playing) In the 1960s, the Detroit River was one of
the most polluted rivers in North America. Today, it is one of the most remarkable, ecological
recovery stories in North America. We are literally transforming the Detroit
River from a polluted rust belt river to an international wildlife refuge. The refuge is a community. It’s a recognition that natural areas and
natural lands are worth protecting. We are a very unique gem in many, many people’s
backyards. Maintaining that connection of the general
public to these lands is really critical. We really need to take a step back and recognize
that people might be going out in nature just to maybe just escape a hectic day. Just be accident, it happens to be in a park
with a view of the river. When you are growing up in an urban community
and you are dealing with gang violence or drugs, you’re really in survival mode. And your connection to nature, your part in
the ecosystem is not really anything that is at all relevant to you. If we want nature to be an important, relevant
issue for folks, we need to look at issues that are already affecting their daily lives. It’s really important that the Refuge System
creates opportunities where the public lives which is in urban environments. If we can do it here in Detroit, we can do
it anywhere. In our refuge, we are both honored and excited
about working with kids. Children already have this innate sense of
wonder. They are inquisitive by nature. If we can nature that sense of wonder by showing
them by example that it’s okay to get dirty; it’s okay to play with bugs; and it’s okay
to sit quietly underneath a tree. It’s not going to be long until they are
running through the forest letting dragonflies land on them; and not have any fear whatsoever. It’s critically important that we do this,
because they are the ones who are going to be the next leaders; they’re the ones that
are going to have to take care of this. By being responsible in our stewardship and
our care of nature, we’re showing them we are responsible in caring for each other. When the success of this endeavor is finally
written, it will be said that they believed, they tried, and it worked.

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