Board Chair Donna Niester honored with philanthropy award
Blue Water River Walk
The Blue Water River Walk is almost one-mile of St. Clair River shoreline immediately south of the mouth of the Black River in Port Huron, Michigan. It is less than a mile downriver from the Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia and the southern end of Lake Huron. Owned by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, the Blue Water River Walk is open to the public year-round.
The shoreline used to create this beautiful River Walk was donated to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County by local philanthropist James C. Acheson and his wife Suzanne at Christmas of 2011. This initial gift, valued at approximately $1.5 million, has now been leveraged to create a total public and private partnership investing more than $6,000,000.
In 2012 the Community Foundation used a grant of $250,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin habitat restoration and restored approximately 450 linear feet of shoreline as a Pilot Phase. Later that year the Foundation received a $2,000,000 grant through NOAA and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to fully complete the shoreline and habitat restoration.
2014 was an incredible year of progress on the River Walk, greatly exceeding everyone’s expectations.
Among the highlights:
- Railroad Ferry Dock: the old railroad ferry dock, which dates back to the early 1900’s, has been fully restored and re-opened to the public. Once used to help transport goods back-and-forth to Sarnia, the Ferry Dock is now a beautiful patio overlooking the St. Clair River. For private rentals of the Ferry Dock see instructions below.
- Pedestrian Trail: using partial funding from the Transportation Enhancement Grant Program of MDOT, the Community Foundation raised matching private donations that allowed us to build a 10’ wide asphalt pedestrian trail along the entire length of the shoreline. This trail is a key component of the Bridge to Bay Trail system.
- Outdoor Classroom: At the north end of the River Walk, just north of the Ferry Dock, is our Outdoor Classroom. Intended as a true interactive learning environment, the Outdoor Classroom is meant to teach the public about the St. Clair River ecosystem and the plant and wildlife habitat found along the River Walk.
- Shoreline & Habitat Restoration: Approximately 4,300 feet of St. Clair River shoreline was completely restored and rehabilitated in 2013, utilizing the grant funding from the GLRI. In the spring of 2014 we completed our shallow water habitat restoration efforts. During this work, and including the Pilot Phase work done in 2012, almost 7,000 tons of debris was removed from the site.
Coming in 2015
- County Wetlands Park: Our partners at St. Clair County Parks & Recreation have received a $1 million grant to develop a new wetlands park on the very southern end of the River Walk. These restored wetlands were a part of the original master plan for the River Walk. Work on the wetlands began in mid 2015 and be mostly complete by year–end.
- Fishing Pier: to help enhance public access for fishing and recreation, the Community Foundation is building a fishing pier on the southern end of the River Walk, just south of the Gray Fox ship. This is an expensive and complicated project and could take up to two years to complete.
- First Peoples’ Tribute: Keeping history alive and a part of present day Port Huron is a fundamental piece of the Blue Water River Walk. The First Peoples’ Tribute will be an area on the south side of the River Walk that will pay tribute to the diverse people who first inhabited this landscape. Visitors to the River Walk will learn about the Native Peoples’ ancient histories, as well as their present day endeavors, and experience a variety of interpretive components.
Private Party and Event Reservations
Some components of the River Walk, such as the Ferry Dock, are available for private rentals. All requests for private rentals will be granted or denied at the sole discretion of the Community Foundation. You may call the Foundation offices at 810-984-4761 with questions.
None scheduled at this time.
Other links of Interest
Desmond Shoreline Restoration
Wildlife Final Report
Pilot Phase Final Report
Update as of February 2013
Update as of October 5, 2012
Update as of August 23, 2012
Update as of May 17, 2011
Foundation Receives First Federal grant
Update as of September 30, 2011
February 2014 Newsletter
River Walk Begins Phase II
River Walk Projects Get Started
Phase One Wildlife Monitoring Report
Restoration Phase Begins
River Walk receives $2 million Grant
River Walk Trail exceeds Challenge Grant Goal
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