Black Swamp Conservancy has acquired an 80-acre tract of land and donated it to Danbury Township in Ottawa County. The property, located on the Marblehead Peninsula, is adjacent to the township’s existing 111-acre Meadowbrook Marsh Preserve and will expand the size of the preserve to more than 190 acres.
The existing 111-acre preserve, owned and managed by the township, includes trails, picnic facilities and an observation platform for wildlife viewing. The new addition connects to the existing preserve to create a cohesive corridor and preserves the remainder of the marsh, which contains a diverse mixture of habitats and harbors a number of rare species. In addition to the land donation, Danbury Township and Black Swamp Conservancy have entered into a perpetual land conservation agreement on the entire 191-acre preserve, to ensure the significant natural resources on the property remain in their natural state forever.
“Meadowbrook Marsh Preserve is a grand slam for land conservation. It is open to public use, has scenic beauty, protects wildlife habitat and wetlands, and provides a terrific location for bird watching, which is an important part of the tourism industry along Lake Erie,” said Kevin Joyce, executive director of Black Swamp Conservancy. “We are really pleased to partner with Danbury Township and the Ohio Ornithological Society to nearly double the size of Meadowbrook Marsh Preserve – at no cost to the township.”
“This is a very meaningful project for Black Swamp Conservancy,” said Rob Krain, its conservation director. “Meadowbrook Marsh is a truly unique site, of exceedingly high biological value. We commend the Danbury Township trustees for having the foresight to set this place aside for wildlife habitat, public recreation and environmental education. It is a real pleasure for us to assist with this expansion and permanent protection of the preserve.”
While the Marblehead Peninsula is under considerable development pressure for permanent and seasonal homes, it is also a focal area for a number of conservation organizations. The close proximity to Lake Erie and major migratory flyways makes the preserve a haven for bird species and a hotspot for local bird watchers. Inhabiting the property are a number of rare and threatened species including the bald eagle, early buttercup, narrow-leaved summer bluets, black-crowned night heron and deer’s-tongue arrowhead. Area organizations such as the Ohio Ornithological Society and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory have utilized the preserve extensively for educational programming.
“Meadowbrook is a magnificent wildlife oasis in the heart of one of the most popular destinations in the state of Ohio,” stated Danbury Township trustee Dianne Rozak. “It offers an excellent experience for passive recreation while maintaining natural areas for species that make their home in its woods and grassland. The trustees are very pleased to acquire additional land for this preserve and look forward to a rewarding partnership with the Black Swamp Conservancy.”
The Ohio Ornithological Society played a key role in the project. Recognizing the ecological significance of Meadowbrook Marsh, and fearing the property might soon be lost to development, the Ohio Ornithological Society contacted Black Swamp Conservancy for their expertise in land protection. Before this land donation, the majority of the marsh and surrounding natural habitat was not protected from development or conversion to agricultural use. The Ohio Ornithological Society also contributed money for the purchase of the property, which they raised during their Midwest Birding Symposium held annually in Lakeside, Ohio.
“Protection of our rapidly diminishing wetlands is critical for Ohio’s wildlife and migratory bird species,” stated Cheryl Harner, past Ohio Ornithological Society board member. “The Ohio Ornithological Society and the thousands of birders in Ohio applaud the actions of the Danbury Township trustees. They are protecting the last great wetland in the township and providing access to this important area. Marblehead is a better place today because the trustees were proactive in working to attract more bird watching tourists.”
Black Swamp Conservancy, based in Perrysburg, is a non-profit land conservation organization dedicated to protecting and preserving natural and agricultural lands for the benefit of future generations. The Conservancy preserves land mostly through perpetual land conservation agreements known as conservation easements. Through such an agreement, the landowner gives up the right to develop the property in order to protect its conservation values, which might include its value as habitat for native plants and animals. The Conservancy serves sixteen counties in northwest Ohio, including the Lake Erie islands, and has protected nearly 13,000 acres during its twenty-year history.