Metroparks and Western Reserve Land Conservancy announced a partnership in 2019 to conserve 229-acres that had been used as a golf course for 90 years. The land was adjacent to the existing 610-acre Secor Metropark, and, combined, the 837-acre property would become the third largest of the 19 parks in the Metroparks Toledo system. Metroparks took ownership of the land in February 2020, and the bulk of the restoration work was completed in 2022. An additional 30-acre tract of forested land adjacent to the former golf course was added in 2022, expanding Secor to 867 total acres.
The project is important for two primary ecological reasons:
Restoration objectives focused on habitat restoration, water quality improvements, stormwater retention and visitor engagement. The project consisted of restoring more than 200 acres of Oak Openings prairie, planting 23,000 trees and improving aquatic habitat.
There are recreational benefits, too. Three additional miles of trail will extend the existing trail system within Secor Metropark, providing access to the property for hiking, running and wildlife watching. Secor is part of a trail network that will eventually connect multiple parks, neighborhoods and popular destinations throughout the western portion of Lucas County.
Project Funding and Implementation – Collaboration was the Key
Western Reserve Land Conservancy played a pivotal role by initially purchasing the property, allowing Metroparks time to secure funding. Ohio EPA, US Forest Service and US EPA were all collaborators on the project, providing critical funding for acquisition and restoration work. The Lucas County Engineer’s office provided technical support for the project.
Metroparks secured more than $4.2 million in outside funding for acquisition and restoration of the property. For acquisition, the park system received $2.2 from the City of Akon via the Ohio EPA’s Water Resources Restoration Sponsorship Program, which provides funding for projects that specifically target the protection and restoration of high-quality streams and wetlands. Another $500,000 was provided by the U.S. EPA via the Maumee Area of Concern program. The AOC is one of 43 environmentally degraded sites on the Great Lakes targeted for restoration.
Restoration work was funded by another $705,000 from the Water Resources Restoration Sponsorship Program; three additional grants totaling $330,000 from the U.S. EPA through the Maumee Area of Concern program; $200,000 from the U.S. Forest Service; $150,000 from an anonymous donation to the Metroparks Toledo Foundation; $132,000 from the Ohio EPA through the Section 319 grant program, and a $10,000 contribution from the Metroparks membership program.
Metroparks is committed to maintaining high quality habitats through adaptive resource management, which includes methodical planning, implementation of management prescriptions, and ecological monitoring. Following restoration, Metroparks natural resources staff will utilize a comprehensive suite of best management practices to maintain the project area’s high quality habitat, including spot treatment of invasive plant species, ecological prescribed fire, periodic mowing to control woody plants from encroaching on prairies, and continued introduction of native plants from the Metroparks native nursery to enhance biodiversity onsite.