Humbug Marsh Wetland Preservation & Engineering
Award of Merit for Engineering:
American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan
From Grosse Pointe’s Lakeshore Drive on the north, south to Lake Erie, the Detroit River is approximately 32 miles long and every foot of its American shoreline is either rip rap or sheet piling, except for one glorious, cat-tailed, tree-canopied, marshy mile straddling Trenton and Gibraltar. Located on the western banks of the Lower Detroit River, Humbug Marsh is owned and operated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The marsh faced development several times in its history, the last resulting in an intensely fought battle in the late 1990’s. Fund-raising, rallies, and years of legal wrangling by local citizens and environmentalists resulted in the parcel becoming the property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
In December 2007, DTE Energy approached NTH Consultants, Ltd. (NTH) with an offer we couldn’t refuse: Donate engineering services to help preserve the sensitive marsh and woodlands in order to provide future generations the opportunity to experience the river’s natural habitat.
Project Scope - Engineering
The project’s engineering aspects included design and construction of wheelchair accessible nature trails made from recycled materials, construction of an educational lookout shelter that included the design of the foundation elements, and construction of a pedestrian bridge that involved environmental engineering services and geotechnical engineering assessment of the footing design and surrounding return walls. NTH also provided engineering services during the construction activities that included review of project drawings, evaluation of subsurface conditions during construction, and coordination with product suppliers.
USFWS, NTH, and DTE Energy brought in several firms to donate equipment, services, and materials, such as geofabric for the trails, recycled plastic decking materials for the boardwalk over the wet portion of the trail, equipment to remove concrete from the former North Gibraltar Road that bisected the preserve, and fuel. The USFWS Refuge, along with University of Michigan, secured funding for the educational shelter.
The U.S. Navy Seabees removed the former North Gibraltar Road, cleared brush for the trails, and constructed the educational shelter including site grading, foundation excavation, structure erection, and roofing. NTH assisted in designing the nature trail, which was then constructed by the Boy Scouts of America and other local volunteers.