Past Projects

For more information about completed reef projects, see:

Belle Isle, 2016

The 2016 project includes 3 reef units located around the head and just upstream of Belle Isle. Each reef unit consists of a bed of loose rock about 2 feet thick and, combined, they cover 4 acres of river bottom.  Construction was completed in late fall of 2016 and monitoring will continue through 2018.

Grassy Island, 2015

This 4-acre fish spawning reef was constructed in a deep, fast flowing section of the Detroit River, approximately 3,800 feet from the Ecorse shoreline, along the western edge of the Fighting Island Channel. The project design is simple – a single rectangular shaped reef unit made of 4-8 inch limestone, forming a bed of rock 2 feet thick. Construction was completed in fall of 2015 and sturgeon have found and spawned on the reef project.

Harts Light, 2014

This 3.8 acre reef project was built offshore from East China Township, Michigan in a narrow section of the St. Clair River. The design involves a single reef bed made of 4-8 inch quarried limestone. Sturgeon spawning has been documented during two consecutive years during post-restoration monitoring.

Pointe aux Chenes, 2014

This 1.5 acre reef project was built offshore from Algonac, Michigan in the St. Clair River in August of 2014. The design involves a single reef bed located in a deep, fast flowing section of the North Channel. Sturgeon spawning has been documented during two consecutive years of post-restoration monitoring.

Fighting Island, 2013 & 2008

These projects were completed in Canadian waters of the Detroit River, and work was led by the Essex Region Conservation Authority and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The 2008 project design included 12 experimental reef beds made of four different rock materials. Desired fish species did not show a consistent preference for rock type, but the location of the reef unit did affect the degree of in-filling that occurred.  In 2013, the five reef beds that were in good condition were expanded. On-going monitoring shows that sturgeon regularly spawn on the constructed reef.

Middle Channel, 2012

This was the team’s first reef project in the St. Clair River. The project included nine experimental reef beds spread across the Middle Channel of the St. Clair River. Sturgeon quickly found and spawned on the reef, but sand has covered portions of the project reducing its habitat value over time. The project has helped the team develop a more rigorous method for predicting sediment dynamics at candidate restoration sites.

Belle Isle, 2004

This pilot project included three rocky reef beds, each 160 x 259 feet, and about 2 feet thick. Each bed was made of different rock types known to support lake sturgeon spawning in other locations: 1-3 inch coal cinders, 16-24 inch broken limestone, and 6-10 inch rounded cobble stone. Post restoration monitoring never documented sturgeon spawning, but showed that many other native fish used the new habitat. The project demonstrated that building spawning reefs was feasible in this river system and on-going research and assessment should be integrated into all future projects.

For more information about completed reef projects, see: