Work Begins on Howard Marsh Phase 2

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Addition will Restore 243 Acres West of Howard Road

Construction is just beginning on phase 2 of Howard Marsh Metropark in Jerusalem Township to restore an additional 243 acres of coastal wetland along the south shore of Lake Erie.

The federally funded project will enhance water quality, create habitat for international migratory birds and provide recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors.

The project has the added benefit of reducing flooding risks by connecting new dikes with the existing flood-control levy system on adjacent private properties along Cooley Canal, which flows to Lake Erie.

Phase 2, west of Howard Road, will be the fourth wetland unit, creating more habitat and providing another 4 miles of permanent channels for paddling and 2.3 miles of trails. Construction will wrap up by the end of this year and the additional parkland will open to the public next spring.

Currently, the Metropark has six miles of water trail and six miles of dike-top trail for hiking and bicycling. Last year, nearly 1,000 people rented kayaks from a self-serve kayak share, and hundreds more brought their own boats or attended Metroparks programs to paddle the six miles of water trail.

“Since phase 1 of the 1,000-acre project opened in 2018, the park has been an important and well-received addition to the local, state and federal lands that make the region an international destination for birders,” said Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks.

In just three years, Zenk added, more than half of all the bird species ever recorded in Ohio have been documented at Howard Marsh.

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Ducks Unlimited, a national leader in wetland conservation with expertise in wetland engineering and restoration, engineered and design phase 2, as it did phase one.  This $2.5 million wetland restoration project, including the cost of engineering and design, was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through their Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory with funds from U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  Maumee Area of Concern Program has designated the project a Management Action Priority.

As with Howard Marsh phase 1, phase 2 project will require the construction of wetland dikes to hold water and restore wetland hydrology. The dikes are under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Dam Safety Program, which will oversee construction to ensure the project meets standards for engineering and safety.

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Photos: Top: Sunset over the Madewell boardwalk trail at Howard Marsh; above: red-winged blackbird