Pointe Mouillee State Game Area
Location Name: Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (Monroe and Wayne Counties, Michigan)
Location Type: Park (State)
Year Opened: 1945
‘Pointe Mouillee’ was named by French fur traders in the early days of the area’s settlement. French for ‘wet point’, this area along Michigan’s Lake Erie shoreline near the mouth of the Huron River is a marshy paradise for waterfowl (and hunters). Known as Pointe Mouillee as far back as 1749, the area has always been rich in waterfowl due to its heavy use by ducks and geese along the flyway across Lake Erie. In 1875, the land was purchased by eight local millionaires who established the Big 8 Shooting Club; later re-named the Pointe Mouillee Shooting Club. The land was in private use until 2,604 acres was purchased from the club by the State of Michigan in 1945.
Purchased to establish a state game area, Pointe Mouillee was in poor shape. The barrier island that had long protected the marsh had eroded away by high water levels on Lake Erie and the marsh began to disappear. Not long after the game area opened, hunting was prohibited at Pointe Mouillee due to the damaged marsh and its’ inability to attract the waterfowl in significant numbers as had been the case in the past. To help remedy the problem, in 1963 the state diked a 365-acre section of marsh and began to manage the water levels so that the marsh could take hold and thrive. Through dewatering procedures and the use of pumping, this section of marsh was able to be saved and the waterfowl began to increase as well. In later decades, Celeron and Stony Islands in the Detroit River were added to Pointe Mouillee’s acreage along with some other boundary increases; today the game are now totals 4,040 acres.
Pointe Mouillee experienced major improvements throughout the 1970s, thanks mostly to Michigan Governor William Milliken. In 1970, Milliken requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discontinue open lake dumping of contaminated dredged sediments from the Detroit and Rouge Rivers. By 1981, the Corps had completed the 700-acre, 3.5 mile long Pointe Mouillee Confined Disposal Facility at a cost of about $45 million. Consisting of a system of dikes built to contain these dredgings, this massive barrier served the needs of the Corps while also protecting the fragile marsh of Pointe Mouillee. One of the largest fresh water marsh restoration projects in the world, Pointe Mouillee provides excellent hiking and biking trails, and great opportunities to enjoy the abundant waterfowl, muskrats, shorebirds and birds-of-prey. Important to conservationists, nature-lovers and hunters, locals have dubbed the large crescent-shaped containment dike as the ‘Banana’. The game area has hosted the annual Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival every September since 1947.Sources