Metroparks Meetup: An inside look at Phase 2 of Howard Marsh Metropark

205 acres of renewed wetland will be added onto Phase 1′s 750 acres by year’s end
Howard Marsh Metropark's 750 acres of wetland restoration was already the largest such project in a 22-state area when it was opened to the public 3 years ago.
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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CURTICE, Ohio (WTVG) - Howard Marsh Metropark’s 750 acres of wetland restoration was already the largest such project in a 22-state area when it was opened to the public 3 years ago... and now, it’s time for Phase 2.

“Since we opened in 2018, we’ve had almost 280,000 people here,” explains natural resources supervisor Denis Franklin. “This 235-acre parcel will eventually become a 205-acre wetland when completed, so things are rolling right now.”

“Rolling” is right, with lots of heavy equipment making tracks to make trails through this latest addition to the Metroparks -- equipment not unlike what had traversed this section of eastern Lucas County for over a century. “This has been an agricultural area for probably over 100 years,” Franklin explains. “Metroparks was able to purchase it from a willing seller, and we’re now working to convert it back to a wetland area.”

Abigail Calmes, an engineer for Hull & Associates LLC tasked for this undertaking, says they’re working with “this undeveloped land where we’ll strip the topsoil, and the farm tiles have to be dug up to ensure the dam will be efficient.”

The habitat loss around Lake Erie is already staggering: “We’ve lost about 95% of our wetlands,” Franklin recalls, “and any time we get a chance to put some wetlands back in -- no matter the size -- it’s critical right here on the south shore of Lake Erie.”

This project is good news for the birds and birdwatchers alike, with early success found with Phase 1. “A little over 300 species have been seen here, and there’s less than 400 species total in the state of Ohio, so they really moved into this area quickly and found the site.

Water quality is always a hot topic and one that Franklin says the marsh will be well-equipped to handle. “Once this gets built, the impoundment will capture rainwater, as opposed to it running off into county ditches or wherever it may go. We’ll allow those wetland processes to take over, so when we discharge that water, it’ll be a lot cleaner than when it entered the property.”

The tilling of soil will be replaced by the trilling of songbirds on the west side of the road soon enough, with project completion expected by the end of the year.

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