Environmental Study Area

A public nature sanctuary

A Green Oasis in the Midst of Urban Sprawl

The Environmental Study Area (ESA) can easily be spotted on a satellite image.  It is bordered by the Rouge River to the west and by Fairlane Drive on the UM-Dearborn campus to the east.  The easy access to this natural area makes it a unique resource for UM-Dearborn students and faculty, a biological research station across the street from classrooms and research facilities. The 120-acre Environmental Study Area (ESA) features many natural habitats, including an early to mid-successional deciduous forest, a late successional deciduous forest, an old field, the Rouge River Floodplain Forest, a marsh, restored native forests of the Jens Jensen Landscape, and Fair Lane Lake.


A Place to Encounter Nature

Thousands of learners (university students, K-12 students, community groups, and individuals) utilize this outdoor classroom every year for educational programs and/or research projects. Visitors can find a quiet respite from the hectic urban pace on the 2+ miles of walking trails while also being able to explore the backyard of the former estate of Henry and Clara Ford.   

Preserving our Local Natural Heritage

The ESA continues to be managed as a nature sanctuary. As an oasis for biological diversity in the middle of a highly urbanized area, it remains important in the preservation of our local natural heritage.  Thousands of neotropical birds stop over for refueling on their annual migrations. The ESA landscape continues to change. New challenges to its stewardship include the negative impacts of an increasing abundance of invasive plants and animals. 

Visiting the Environmental Study Area

Please be mindful of the wildlife that call the Environmental Study Area their home!