Return to Case Study Briefs

Crosswinds Marsh Wetland Interpretive Preserve

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Decreased upstream and downstream flooding.
  • Restored over 100 acres of historical wetland habitat that had been drained for agriculture and residential use.
  • Created a variety of habitat types for over 200 species of birds, 170 species of plants, 20 fish, 30 mammals, 21 reptiles and amphibians, and 70 species of butterflies and dragonflies.


  • Provides recreational, interpretive, and educational opportunities for more than 15,000 visitors each year while limiting visitor access to sensitive areas.

At a Glance

  • Designer

    JJR (now SmithGroup)

  • Project Type

    Nature preserve
    Wetland creation/restoration

  • Former Land Use


  • Location

    27600 Haggerty Road
    New Boston, Michigan 48164
    Map it

  • Climate Zone

    Humid continental

  • Size

    1,050 acres

  • Budget

    $18.1 million

  • Completion Date


One of the largest self-sustaining wetland mitigation projects in the country, Crosswinds Marsh in New Boston, Michigan is also a recreational park and wildlife refuge that is part of the Wayne County Park system. The park was created to allow Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) to meet environmental regulations during a major airport expansion sited on top of an existing wetland. By remediating nearby land that was historically wetland that been converted to primarily agricultural use, the park far exceeds requirements and accommodates multiple public uses, including passive recreation, fishing, and environmental learning opportunities. 


Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport embarked on a massive Capital Improvement Program to sustain future growth and meet infrastructure and capacity requirements, including construction of a new runway. Through a cooperative effort, regulatory agencies, local townships, and a citizen advisory committee developed an idea to mitigate all impacted wetlands at one location and make it publicly accessible.


The design prioritized ecological function over recreational uses. As such, non-habitat enhancements, like interpretive signage, boardwalks, and defined trails, were contained within the most accessible areas of the preserve. This accommodates recreational, interpretive, and educational opportunities for visitors while preserving the majority of the site for wildlife habitat.

  • A diversity of wetland habitat types including forested, wet meadow, emergent, submergent, and deep water areas were created on the site.
  • By carefully grading and sculpting the land to follow site hydrology, no pumps, dykes, or artificial methods are required to maintain the natural systems.
  • Over 300,000 native aquatic plants, 10,000 seedlings, and 300 acres of wetland seed were added to the site to create self-sustaining wetland communities.
  • Sensitive planning created and limited human access to habitat for several threatened species. These include bald eagle nesting sites and 20 acres set aside for the propagation and reestablishment of three rare plant species relocated from the airport.
  • The site serves as an ongoing research facility for scientists to monitor and collect data on revegetation strategies and construction and implementation methods for future restoration activities.
  • A sustainable fishery makes the site one of the most popular fishing sites in the Detroit metropolitan area. 
  • The preserve offers a variety of recreation opportunities, including over 5 miles of hiking trails, canoeing, fishing, bird watching, and horseback riding.
  • Two full-time naturalists lead 15 interpretive programs throughout the year.

The total project cost, including fees, property acquisition, and construction, was $18.1 million. Providing wetlands replacement on the airport site was both physically impossible and in violation of local wildlife regulations. By mitigating the wetlands at one off-site location, maintenance costs are reduced because the county does not have to maintain recreation features at multiple sites.

  • It is necessary to strike a balance among permit requirements, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, wildlife and plant habitat, construction sequencing, and public input.
  • Continuous yearly monitoring and an aggressive management plan to control invasive species are critical to the success of habitat restoration.

Project Team

Landscape Architecture: JJR (now SmithGroup)
Civil Engineering: JJR (now SmithGroup)
Engineering Assistance: Tucker, Young, Jackson and Tull
Architecture: Lincoln Poley, AIA
Contractors: ABC Paving; W.H. Canon, Inc.; L. Lawyer Construction

Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect led a team of wetland ecologists, botanists, wildlife and fishery biologists, recreation planners, and civil engineers. The landscape architect provided services in site selection, concept design, landscape architecture, civil engineering, horticulture, environmental science, aquatic biology, public involvement, and permitting.


Flood protection, Habitat creation, preservation & restoration, Populations & species richness, Recreational & social value, Educational value, Wetland, Trail, Native plants, Biodiversity, Learning landscapes, Restoration

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Help build the LPS: Find out how to submit a case study and other ways to contribute.