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FOXe: New exhibit documents Detroit River's comeback

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DETROIT, Mich. (WJBK) - Our local waterways are among our greatest natural resources, but for nearly two centuries they were severely abused. Sewage, fertilizer and industrial waste were once dumped directly into the Detroit River. The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle is hosting a new exhibit about the river's comeback.

Click on the video player to watch Robin Schwartz's report.

It's the sound of summer -- the distinctive water of the Detroit River lapping against the rocky shore. There's no question the river is a gem, an asset for commerce and recreation. But we haven't always treated it like the treasure it is.

"We polluted it with industrial waste, we polluted it with human waste, we have destroyed habitats for fish, animals and birds," explained Joel Stone, senior curator with the Detroit Historical Society. "Over time, the entire ecosystem got pretty sick."

We caught up with workers from the Detroit Historical Society putting the finishing touches on "Troubled Waters: Healing our Freshwater Habitats" which tells the story of the river's history from its darker days to the present.

"1940 was the first time we weren't just pumping sewage right into the river," Stone says. "We really didn't get a good system until the 1960's."

State, federal and local laws helped stop the pollution. It's been a massive undertaking involving numerous agencies to get the ecosystem back to where it is today. The Detroit River is home to more than 117 different species of fish and hundreds of different types of birds. Today some are extinct like the passenger pigeon and others are making a comeback.

The exhibit gives people a close up look at some of the waterway's birds and fish. You can even check out a water sample. The museum also has other interactive exhibits including the pilot house from the Great Lakes freighter the S.S. William Clay Ford with incredible views. The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle is open every Friday-Sunday from 11am-4pm. Admission is free.

Click HERE for more information


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