Ducks Unlimited recently honored the 1,000-acre Howard Marsh wetlands and recreational area adjacent to the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Ottawa County. The ambitious project was a winner of the 2019 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards at the 84th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference.
The Howard Marsh Metropark won the Local/Private Conservation category for Metroparks Toledo for its efforts with partners Ducks Unlimited and others to establish Howard Marsh on the shores of Lake Erie.
“Nominees and those select for recognition represent how people with a shared passion can achieve great things for wetlands and waterfowl conservation,” said Nick Wiley, Ducks Unlimited chief conservation officer. “Ducks Unlimited is pleased to recognize these efforts that serve as an inspiration for others to follow. Conservation requires teamwork and only by working together can we achieve effective and lasting success.”
After several years of planning and construction, Metroparks Toledo and its partners opened Howard Marsh in 2018, transforming former agricultural fields back to wetlands for people and ducks.
Phase 1 restored 571 acres of wetlands and 116 acres of upland habitat. The impact for birds and wildlife was immediate. In the first year alone, 191 species of songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl were documented using the restored habitat. Since its opening, tens of thousands of visitors have enjoyed six miles of walking trails and a quarter-mile of boardwalk through the marsh. Howard Marsh is the first Metroparks Toledo location to allow public waterfowl hunting.
Metroparks Toledo partnered with Ducks Unlimited, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and others on the project, which included Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding.