Belle Isle

  • Detroit’s Eco-tourism Agenda: It’s got birds on it

    Gabriel Richard Park on Detroit’s east side near the Belle Isle bridge

    With 200 bald eagles wintering in nearby Monroe and often flying over Belle Isle, Detroit’s status as an eco-tourism destination is soaring. John Hartig, manager for the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge, spoke with WDET’s Amy Miller about plans for a new observation area at Gabriel Richard Park for viewing of eagles and other waterfowl. Hartig thinks that city can further capitalize on its environmental assets and boost its recreation industry.

  • MiWeek this week

    Our DJC partners at Detroit Public Television have another Detroit-focused MiWeek program. With guest co-host Nancy Kaffer from the Detroit Free Press, the team talks about this week’s negotiations regarding the $350 million needed from the state to seal the grand bargain for Detroit’s bankruptcy. Also, they analyze the anger over the state’s policing of Belle Isle. If you missed the broadcast, we’ve got it online.

  • Come talk Belle Isle: Event on Monday

    Projects planned for the island park and conversations about these ongoing efforts are planned for Monday at a Michigan Department of Natural Resources-hosted event. Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Belle Isle Nature Zoo, 1928 East Lakeside Dr., the event is free and open to the public.

    According to the DNR, “education-based Belle Isle stakeholders and partner agencies will present information about their current Belle Isle programs and attractions” at the gathering.

    Belle Isle became a state park this year as part of the city’s bankruptcy restructuring.

    Here’s a summary of Next Chapter Detroit’s Belle Isle coverage.

    By in Belle Isle, WDET
  • Belle Isle Update

    The new Belle Isle Advisory Committee will hold another public meeting from 9 to 11 a.m., Thursday, March 27 at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on the island.

    On the agenda: reviewing how the Department of Resources will make decisions and communicate about the park’s events, rules, regulations and infrastructure project planning; and scheduling “public listening sessions.” There also is time for public comments during the meeting.

    As part of Detroit’s restructuring, the island park was taken over by the DNR and is operating as a state park. The Belle Isle Advisory Committee, made up of local volunteers, advises the state about Belle Isle’s operations, improvements, planning and public safety efforts.

    More information may be found at

    Here is a compilation of Next Chapter Detroit’s Belle Isle coverage.


  • Post-Plan Weekend: A photo gallery of Detroit life continuing

    The Plan of Adjustment came out on Friday and you can read all about it here, at our live blog. What did the day after look like? Well, life continued. We’re still here. We’re all still here.

    By in Belle Isle, Neighborhoods, WDET
  • Belle Isle: From ‘City Beautiful’ to state competence

    As Belle Isle transfers from Detroit’s control to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, Bridge Magazine’s Nancy Derringer takes a look at the park’s history, the improvements to date and the changes the state plans.

    The state is also reassuring park visitors that the management transfer won’t change any of the city’s Recreation Department’s current procedures and pricing, at least for events this year. The DNR released information last week explaining the process and deadlines.

    Feature Image Source: Angela Anderson-Cobb

  • What’s up, Belle Isle?

    Judge Damon Keith administers the oath of office for members of the Belle Isle Advisory Committee.

    Judge Damon Keith administers the oath of office for members of the Belle Isle Advisory Committee.

    If you’ve been wondering what has happened at Belle Isle in advance of the island formally becoming a state park on Feb. 10, the answer is found in some newly functioning restrooms, removed (diseased, dying or dangerous) trees and repaired shelters and picnic tables.

    A crowd of more than 100 filled a Detroit Yacht Club ballroom today as the seven-member Belle Isle Advisory Committee held its first public meeting, a three-hour affair. State officials reported about progress to date and described their future plans for management, operation, maintenance and improvement of the island park.

    And those are detailed, specific, promising plans for the park so many of us visit for walking, running, biking, skating, sunset watching, photographing, dog exercising, golfing, birdwatching, museum appreciating, cruising, fishing, sailing, power boating, kayaking, canoeing, cricket playing, picnicking, reunion holding, partying…

    Let’s stop there as a dozen or so of the men and women at the meeting were clad in law enforcement uniforms from multiple agencies, and their commanding officers promised elevated public safety at the park.

    Other future efforts now that the island will be a state park are to include a summer youth employment program, creating a “greener” infrastructure for the park, protecting native plants and specimen trees and historic preservation of buildings.

    “We want to keep things moving in a steady but positive direction, and there’s more of that to come,” said Ron Olson, the chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division, “whether you jog, fish, swim, ride your bike or just come out an read a book.”

    The biggest difference will be that beginning Feb. 10, the $11 annual state recreation passport will be required to enter the park.

    Public comments were generally positive.

    But a handful of people objected to the closure of the island for the Grand Prix auto race. Some others – members of the Detroit Rowing Club, photographers and other early risers – objected to the assumed state park hours of operation: sunrise to sunset.

    “At this point we’re talking about 6 a.m. so the hours of operation would be from 6 in the morning until 10 at night,” Olson said. “Basically I want to reassure that our intent is to have the rules be the same.”

    -By WDET’s Sandra Svoboda

    @WDETSandra and


    By in Belle Isle, WDET