This international Corridor includes southern Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, and western Lake Erie. Water from the three upper Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, and Huron) flows into the St. Clair River, through the Huron-Erie Corridor (HEC), and into Lake Erie at a rate of about 120 billion gallons per day.
The Huron-Erie Corridor includes one of the busiest navigation centers in the United States and is an international trade route with Canada and overseas markets. Over $80 billion/year in trade between the U.S. and Canada is carried out across the HEC. More than five million people live within an hour’s drive of this Corridor. It is also the major source of drinking water for Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario.
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge are located in the lower HEC, and Walpole Island First Nation lands are in the upper HEC. Habitat in these waters is used by over 65 species of fish, and is home to sixteen threatened or endangered fish species. The Corridor is also part of the central Great Lakes flyway for millions of migratory waterfowl, and contains some of the largest and most diverse wetlands remaining in the region.
Conflicting uses of HEC waters for waste disposal, water withdrawals, shoreline development, shipping, recreation, and fishing have resulted in a number of environmental changes to this system. Natural resource managers need quantitative scientific information to make informed decisions for managing and restoring native aquatic species and habitats in the HEC. The HEC Initiative was implemented to provide that information.