Crowdfunding campaign launched for “Wildlife Refuge School Ship Dock and Fishing Pier”

Friday, July 14, 2017

$50,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the only international wildlife refuge in North America, will soon have a completed 700-foot school ship dock and fishing pier with the help of a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance announced today. The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. 

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by Sept. 4, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“Public Spaces Community Places is a good resource for unique community spaces such as the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge,” said MEDC Vice President of Community Development Katharine Czarnecki. “We are pleased to be able to partner in efforts like this to increase recreational opportunities for residents and visitors in places like the Wildlife Refuge.” 

The pier will offer a free shore fishing experience for all fishing enthusiasts to enjoy. In addition to improving fishing access, the new dock will host Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes school ship on the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. The school ship will dock at the Refuge Gateway to make use of the river and refuge as a living laboratory for children. School children from all Detroit Metropolitan area communities will be able to come regularly to the Refuge Gateway for day-long field trips aboard the school ship. 

"We are so honored to work with Michigan Economic Development Corporation on creating a world-class gathering place for people and wildlife at the Refuge Gateway and Humbug Marsh," said International Wildlife Alliance Executive Director Joann Van Aken. "This new destination of choice in southeast Michigan will enhance close-to-home outdoor recreation and inspire a sense of wonder in children and adults." 

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at

“Providing opportunities to enjoy a community’s natural resources is a real boon to placemaking,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The pier will be a source of fun and pride for Trenton residents, and a sought-after destination for students and families in the region.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of July 14, 2017, MEDC has provided $3,835,500 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 131 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with $4.6 million raised from 22,023 individual donors.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.