Phase 2 of Howard Marsh Metropark begins


        Construction is just beginning on Phase 2 of Howard Marsh Metropark in Jerusalem Township to restore an additional 243 acres of coastal wetland along the south shore of Lake Erie.
        The federally funded project will enhance water quality, create habitat for international migratory birds and provide recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors.
        “They have just started to prep the area,” Jerusalem Township Trustee Mark Sattler said on Wednesday.
        Metroparks of Toledo has worked cooperatively with the Jerusalem Township Trustees to ensure the project has the added benefit of reducing flooding risks by connecting new dikes with the existing flood-control levy system on adjacent private properties along Cooley Canal, which flows to Lake Erie.
        In 2008, Metroparks acquired the 1,000-acre Howard Farms property in Jerusalem Township north of St. Rte. 2 and bisected by Howard Road.  In spring 2018, Metroparks Toledo opened Howard Marsh Phase 1 to the public.  This 752-acre park restoration project on the Howard Farms property, located east of Howard Road and north of St. Rte. 2 provides significant benefits for habitat, water quality, and recreational opportunities.  Benefits include restoration of nearly 600 acres of coastal marsh wetlands, over 100 acres of newly planted forests, treatment of 400 acres of residential storm water that previously discharged directly into Lake Erie, and providing visitors with over 6 miles of new trails and over 6 miles of permanent blueway channels for paddling. 
Phase 2
        Phase 2, west of Howard Road, will be the fourth wetland unit, creating more habitat and providing another 4 miles of permanent channels for paddling and 2.3 miles of trails. Construction will wrap up by the end of this year and the additional parkland will open to the public next spring.
        Currently, the Metropark has six miles of water trail and six miles of dike-top trail for hiking and bicycling. Last year, nearly 1,000 people rented kayaks from a self-serve kayak share, and hundreds more brought their own boats or attended Metroparks programs.
        “Since Phase 1 of the 1,000-acre project opened in 2018, the park has been an important and well-received addition to the local, state and federal lands that make the region an international destination for birders,” said Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks.
Bird species
        In just three years, Zenk added, more than half of all the bird species ever recorded in Ohio have been documented at Howard Marsh.
        “The MetroParks did a great job on Phase 1 and we are looking forward to Phase 2,” said Trustee Beau Miller.
        “We have an excellent partnership with Metroparks,” said Sattler. “The Howard Farms Metropark is a real gem. We are fortunate to have it in our community.”
        Ducks Unlimited, a national leader in wetland conservation with expertise in wetland engineering and restoration, engineered and designed Phase 2, as it did Phase one.  This $2.5 million wetland restoration project, including the cost of engineering and design, was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through their Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory with funds from U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  Maumee Area of Concern Program has designated the project a Management Action Priority.
        As with Howard Marsh Phase 1, Phase 2 will require the construction of wetland dikes to hold water and restore wetland hydrology. The dikes are under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Dam Safety Program, which will oversee construction to ensure the project meets standards for engineering and safety.
(Most of the information in this article came from a press release. News Editor Kelly J. Kaczala added information on Phase 1, and obtained additional comments from Trustee Mark Sattler).


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