Clive and Clarice Taylor have accomplished quite a lot in their lives. But, what they did in 2016 has to be one of the most selfless, amazing things anyone has ever done.
They donated their 43 acres of land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be included in the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. This is not just a barren plot of land, however. Quite the opposite, in fact.
What started out as a soybean farm was transformed into a nature-lover’s dream by these two lovers of nature. Mr. Taylor is a self-taught naturalist who grew up near the water in Gibraltar, Michigan. He loved the water so much that he built a boat at the young age of 19 by himself. He spent years working at the E.W. Heinrich Marina, where his love of nature grew.
It’s during his time working there that he learned about hydrology and nature. Mrs. Taylor describes Mr. Taylor as “intuitive” about nature. So, without the help of biologists, hydrologists, planners and scientists, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor built their vision of an environmental paradise.
Over the course of 15 years, and with the help of a friend, they built an observation deck, seven ponds, and a nesting platform for bald eagles. They planted hundreds of wildflowers, trees and other plants – water lilies, cattails, and American lotus (a threatened species), while removing invasive exotic plants and phragmites.
The couple estimates that they spent $500,000 of their own money building this marshy wonder. It took a lot of years, sweat and tears, but it was a labor of love for them. Their former property is now home to great blue herons, deer, coyotes, beaver, mink, snowy egret and a plethora of other wildlife.
The 6000 acre Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge can be found just 50 miles north of Toledo, Ohio and 20 miles south of Detroit, Michigan along the lower Detroit River and the shoreline of Lake Erie. There you can find an incredibly unique environmental habitat that includes marshes, shoals, coastal wetlands, waterfront land and even islands.
The Taylors didn’t donate their labor of love just as a means to expand the refuge, however. One of the stipulations of the donation was that the land be used for environmental education. The couple now lives on Horse Island, which is a beautiful area of Gibraltar Island.