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Michigan United Conservation Clubs
letter to Detroit Council

March 23, 2005

Dear Council Members:

Michigan United Conservation Clubs is actively engaged in the effort to help preserve an important part of Detroitís heritage by keeping the Belle Isle Aquarium from closing.  Although we are a bit tardy coming forward to address this issue we believe that there may be a way to save the aquarium if time is granted to explore building a partnership with other interested parties and obtain sufficient funding for operations to continue on a long term basis.

As you know, the value of this facility cannot be overstated both as an educational tool and as historic feature of the city.  I have spoken with the leadership of the National Wildlife Federationís Great Lakes office and they have expressed strong interest in keeping the aquarium open.  I am also pursuing contacts with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan because both train fisheries biologists and may have a strong interest in having a facility that could evolve into a practical site for doing research and internships.

As chairman of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and a trustee of the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, I am fully aware of the potential of having a site located physically on the St. Lawrence Seaway that could become a centerpiece for studies on exotic species and other Great Lakes issues.  This facility is an important part of Detroitís Heritage that, if closed, will likely never reopen.  The time to find a solution to this problem is now, not after closure.


Yours in conservation,

Sam Washington

Executive Director