Metroparks Meetup: Wetland restoration for Secor Metropark

200+ acres from 2 former golf courses purchased by Metroparks in February 2020
Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:31 PM EDT
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SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WTVG) - From hitting the links to hitting the trails -- it may not look like much from the highway, but a big project is underway on the former site of the Spuyten Duyval and Cottonwood Creek golf courses. The Metroparks bought up over 230 acres of land along Central Avenue back in February, and are now restoring the former wetland to its natural state.

“There are other wetland projects through the Nature Conservancy very close to this project,” says natural resources supervisor LaRae Sprow, “so we’re really expecting a lot of wildlife that hasn’t been here in a while -- like sandhill cranes -- to come back to the area.”

This land will eventually make up the easternmost section of Secor Metropark. Lots of land clearing was necessary to start, with Metroparks staff enlisting the help of a local farmer: “We were able to utilize them to break up the sod that was part of the golf course,” says Sprow, “and even weed control while we’re waiting for the real restoration process to begin.”

Some have questioned why the parks system would remove trees instead of leaving them be, which Sprow explains: “A lot of the trees that were planted closer to the road were trees that were not native to the Oak Openings region -- lots of pine trees in that area, even some maple trees which are native but not prairie trees. The whole front of the property will be a large 160-acre wet prairie restoration, and there are a lot of beautiful native trees toward the back of the property that will remain."

Matt Killam, chief of outreach/experiences with the Metroparks, laments the fact they had to cut hosting cross-country events a few years back -- but that’s one issue of several they hope to correct with the new addition. “When we reached an agreement on the expansion, we wanted to bring that [idea] back,” Killam says. "Metroparks is for Lucas County, so when people say they want it, we try to deliver it. We are not leaders who know a lot about cross-country events, so we sought out the very best design and then asked the people of this community -- stakeholders and high school/college track coaches alike -- ‘What would you like to see here? What do you need to make this a world-class experience?’”

The restored land will have some other amenities, which fans of the parks have come to expect: “There’s going to be a banquet hall that will most likely stay on the property, available as a rental facility,” says Sprow, “and a wildlife watchtower that people will be able to utilize.”

Secor Metropark will end up with over 800 acres to its name -- the third-largest park in northwest Ohio: “Any time we can buy property to connect and make any of our wildlife areas bigger is always a really exciting opportunity.”

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