Defining our blue economy

In Macomb County, we like to tout our local blue economy. We focus much of our efforts on advancing the economic opportunities and environmental stewardship that come about from Lake St. Clair and the Clinton River – two of our most valuable regional resources.

What exactly does “blue economy” mean?

DSC_0177I had the opportunity to better learn that definition and view some of the key highlights of our blue economy-related initiatives on Aug. 19 when Macomb County, Six Rivers Land Conservancy, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks hosted the Macomb County Conservation & Recreation Tour to highlight recreational projects that have been funded by the Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund. These projects all have the end goal of developing water-related conservation and recreation efforts.

The event started at Lake St. Clair Metropark with lunch and welcoming remarks by local leaders and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who first began the blue economy initiative three years ago. From there, a SMART hybrid bus picked up the approximate 35 attendees and took us to all of Macomb County’s top blue economy spots. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Nicholson Nature Center: The property, located in the northern end of the Clinton River in Clinton Township, used to be a poor farm during the depression to help feed hungry families. Now, the county-owned property has 33 acres of conserved land that acts as an educational facility for local students and protects one-mile of North Branch of the Clinton River stream bank. It also boasts nature trails and wetlands and serves as an educational facility for student and groups through the Macomb County Public Works Office.
  • Salt River Marsh: The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development received a $25,000 Coastal Zone Management Grant to develop a master plan for this marsh, located in Chesterfield Township. The plan includes ecosystem restoration, a paddling trail, enhanced fish habitat and developing the land for educational use.
  • Downtown New Baltimore and Schmid Marina: Walking through historic downtown New Baltimore with its quaint shops and small-town friendly feel, it’s easy to see why people would want to come to this area. Adding to the city’s charm, at the end of the downtown is a park, located just off the shoreline of Lake St. Clair. To the right sits Schmid Marina, a privately-owned property which is now for sale. The county is working with other agencies to see if this property could provide additional water access along Anchor Bay as well as help New Baltimore better enhance its downtown coastal district.

From downtown New Baltimore, we left our SMART bus driver Tykese Dotson (who is also very enthusiastic about Macomb County’s blue economy, recalling that he had just recently caught a 37-inch pike near Selfridge) and got on a boat provided by Captain’s Landing, a Mount Clemens river boat business. The boat took us on a nearly hour-long boat ride from Schmid Marina back to our starting point at Lake St. Clair Metropark. As a storm rolled in over the lake, we were able to view the beauty of the water and get a full understanding of what Macomb County’s blue economy really means both locally and regionally.

Sarah Cormier works for the Macomb County Executive Office, often writing about interesting activities taking place in Macomb County.

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