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Crosswinds Marsh Interpretive Preserve

Crosswinds Marsh, a 467-acre regional park and wildlife refuge in Michigan, was developer to mitigate a loss of wetlands when Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport underwent expansion

Location Information: New Boston, Michigan United States

GIS Data:

Project Type(s): Public Parks and Recreation

Project Owner/Agency: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW).

Budget: Over $10,000,000

Envision Rating: Not Rated


One of the largest, self-sustaining wetland mitigation projects in the country, and the first to accommodate multiple public uses, Crosswinds Marsh serves as a national benchmark for environmental design and ecological restoration. Created in 1995 for the Detroit Metropolitan Airport to meet regulatory requirements for expansion, this award-winning public park and wildlife refuge was designed by an interdisciplinary team of civil engineers, landscape architects, wetland ecologists, botanists, biologists, and recreation planners led by SmithGroupJJR.

Triple Bottom Line

Economic: The expansion of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) required mitigation plans for the restoration and/or creation of 467-acres of wetlands prior to beginning construction. Crosswinds Marsh allowed DTW to exceed regulatory requirements in a highly cost effective manner. By mitigating the wetlands at a single off-site location, County maintenance costs were reduced. DTW currently serves 35 million passengers annually. The design also helped decrease upstream and downstream flooding with the use of computer models to study different methods for creating wetland conditions. Two county-owned drains were relocated and reconstructed. By carefully grading and sculpting the land to follow site hydrology, no pumps or artificial methods are required to maintain the natural systems.

Environmental: A rich diversity of wetland habitat was created. Over 100 acres of historical wetland habitat that had been drained for agriculture and residential use were restored. More than 300,000 native aquatic plants, 10,000 seedlings and 300 acres of wetland seed were added to establish self-sustaining wetland communities. Monitoring studies identified more than 200 species of birds, 170 species of plants, 20 fish, 30 mammals, 21 reptiles and amphibians, and 70 species of butterflies and dragonflies. Design accommodated several threatened species, including bald eagle nesting sites and the reestablishment of three rare plant species relocated from the airport.

Social: Part of the Wayne County Park System, Crosswinds Marsh is a regional park and wildlife refuge that attracts more than 15,000 visitors annually while limiting access to sensitive areas. The preserve offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, canoeing, fishing, bird watching, horseback riding, and a screen house to host naturalist programs. Two full-time naturalists lead 15 interpretive programs throughout the year. The site also serves as an ongoing research facility for scientists to monitor and collect data to inform future wetland restoration activities.

Contact Information

Bernie Fekete,