Clark Island and Delaware/Horseshoe Islands Water Quality & Habitat Improvement Projects

The beginning stages of construction for the Clark Island and Delaware/Horseshoe Islands restoration projects are underway! Construction of the first temporary construction causeway began on January 8, 2024. Construction groundbreaking celebration events were held on January 23 that included a media event with speakers followed by an open community reception. The community has demonstrated their interest and support for these projects throughout every phase of the project and team members estimate that around 90 people attended the groundbreaking events.

Mark Haynes Construction was selected by the Port Authority to be the construction contractor for both projects. State and federal funds totaling $13.5 million are dedicated to efforts to improve and restore the 63+ acres for this set of islands. This is the largest known habitat restoration investment in the Maumee River. At the state level, ODNR dedicated $8.146 million through the H2Ohio Program to design and construct portions of this project. Federal contributions from U.S. EPA through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) provided $5.4 million for design and construction activities. Though funding is coming from separate sources, the integrated and complementary projects will restore and positively impact the islands and surrounding areas. Leading the efforts are Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the City of Toledo, with input from ODNR and Ohio EPA, and additional support from the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC) Advisory Committee (MAAC).

The GLRI-funded activities will improve habitat for fish and benthos, as this is the primary focus of the management action project. The restoration will span across an improvement area of approximately 50 acres on the Delaware/Horseshoe Islands. Within this 50-acre footprint are 12 acres of regraded and enhanced wetlands and 29 acres where phragmites will be managed. Alongside the wetlands area, features of the GLRI-AOC project will also include Rock Barrier Reef/Vegetated Stone Sill, Cove Improvements, Open Water Enhancements, and Invasive Species Management. A portion of the original island footprint will be restored, thus improving habitat for fish, aquatic organisms, and upland wildlife that call the Maumee River their home. The planned barrier reef and sill will allow for calmer, open water habitat that will also help protect the area from boat wakes, river flows and ice scour. Since water levels of the river can vary, the proposed cove improvements will be contoured to accommodate shifting water levels and habitat needs. Other bottom substrate, along with wood/rock installments, will further enhance fish and macroinvertebrate habitat.

Plans for the H2Ohio-funded activities will primarily focus on nutrient reduction through sediment settlement and plant uptake. This project will occur across approximately 13.6 acres in the downstream portion of Delaware/Horseshoe Islands and Clark Island in its entirety. Of the 13.6 acres enhanced in this project, 6.9 acres are wetlands, which is just over half of the area. In addition to the wetland area, the H2Ohio project features will also include an Open Backwater Area, Island Revetment, Inner Channel Reef, and Breakwater/Backwater Islands. To create an ideal area for sediment deposition, the contractor will establish an interior, protected open water area and install a rock revetment to better protect the improved area from harsh river conditions. Other installments in this area will include stone and wood structures as well as small islands that will provide habitat for the native wildlife while contributing to a slower flow of water to encourage sediment settlement.

Overall water quality and habitat improvements will result from these integrated projects. Not only is there a planned reduction in sedimentation and nutrient loading, PCS and MAAC members are also excited for what this means for river inhabitants. Fish, benthos, and other plant and animal communities should now have improved conditions to thrive in their soon-to-be upgraded habitats thanks to the installation of various improvements that include wood/rock structures. Improvements will provide important protection to reduce further island erosion. Boaters, paddlers, anglers, and community members will have improved conditions to enjoy this section of the river thanks to these efforts that promote ecological resilience and that will establish a sustainable future for these islands and the surrounding areas in our beautiful Maumee River.