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Management Action Project Spotlight – Toussaint Wildlife Area

TWA AerialFollowing an article last fall that summarized progress made on the MAAC-recommended management action (MAP) projects for Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) 14b (Loss of Wildlife Habitat), we are excited to spotlight another BUI 14b project.

The Toussaint Marsh State Wildlife Area was an existing impounded wetland complex located near the town of Oak Harbor, roughly five miles from Lake Erie. The site is adjacent to the Toussaint River and includes 125 acres of emergent and lowland shrub wetlands within western Lake Erie’s coastal zone. Habitat in this area of Ohio was historically dominated by emergent and forested wetlands. Human activities dramatically altered this landscape, resulting in the loss of more than 90% of the historic wetlands.

The impetus of project work at the Wildlife Area was failure of existing water control management structures necessary to maintain quality wetland habitat. As such, the ultimate goals of this project have been the restoration and redesign of the existing impounded wetland in order to improve the quality of habitat for fish and wildlife in the coastal region of Lake Erie and the restoration of hydrological connections between the wetlands and Toussaint River.

Project work has been phased over a number of years. Phases I and II of the project are complete and Phase III will be completed this summer (2020). Primary management practices have included;

  • The removal and replacement of existing water control and pump structures with improved infrastructure;
  • The restoration of sections of the external levee; and
  • The removal of more than one mile of internal levees.

The new and improved water control/pump infrastructure will allow for use as flow through systems/fish passage if desired, and also increases the efficacy of invasive species management within the wetland. Removal of the internal levees established one large wetland where four small wetland units previously existed, increasing connectivity and diversity of habitat within the wetland. Project partners predict that the creation of a larger and more continuous area will greatly benefit amphibian, reptile (turtles and snakes), and fish species that reside in the area.

This project was a collaborative effort among the Ohio Division of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited, with financial support provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

New Project Rack Cards!

Maumee State Forest Rack CardWe are glad to announce the availability of a new set of Maumee AOC informational materials. Three professionally designed ‘rack cards’ summarizing a suite of Wildlife Management Action Plan (MAP) projects were drafted this spring with help from many project partners. *A MAP is created for each AOC impairment (e.g., loss of wildlife habitat) and provides details on how that particular impairment will be corrected.

These cards are designed to share Maumee AOC project examples quickly and effectively, and can be shared digitally or in hard copy form at meetings and conferences. The longer-term goal is to create several more sets of these cards to highlight more projects designed to address various BUIs. Many priority habitat restoration projects have been recently completed or are underway in the AOC and will be shared as work progresses.

Completed rack cards are available on the MAAC website, under the Resources tab and then the Miscellaneous document category (also available directly at the following links). The current card list includes; Restoring Coastal Wetlands at Toussaint State Wildlife (MAP 23-17), Maumee State Forest Restoration (MAP 8-16), and Oak Openings Habitat Protection within Priority Conservation Areas (MAPs 10-16 & 4-16). Many thanks to all those that helped to create these cards!

Wildlife MAP Project Call-Out

SM PostPart of the MAAC’s outreach and education efforts for 2020 is focusing on publicizing project work that was completed or is being conducted as part of the BUI 14b (Wildlife Habitat) recommendations. As such, a suite of social media posts, informational “rack” cards, and video tours are being generated to spread the word regarding this progress and project successes.

The first social media post was made in early February to the MAAC’s Facebook and Twitter pages. See below for the content displayed on Facebook and stay tuned for more posts and information this year!
Content posted to Facebook @MaumeeAOC on February 4, 2020:

Progress is being made in a number of wildlife habitat restoration projects recommended through the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC) program. A great example this work is the effort to improve degraded wildlife habitat near the Maumee State Forest. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and the Ohio Nature Conservancy are working to return over 100 acres of previously bare/farmed land to native woodland and wetland habitat. Progress to-date includes the restoration of natural hydrology, the planting of 9,000 native tree seedlings, and the seeding of prairie areas with native vegetation. It is reported that a variety of wildlife (frogs, deer, ducks, etc.) are already utilizing this area! See the following link for more information about the Maumee AOC: #GLRI

Ohio Area of Concern Summit

AOC LogoSeveral MAAC members attended the 2020 Ohio Area of Concern Summit earlier this month. The event was held on March 6th, and hosted by Lorain County Metro Parks at their French Creek Nature Center. Program updates were shared by Lynn Garrity (Ohio Lake Erie Commission) and Kristen Isom (GLNPO-USEPA). After the general program updates, each of the four Ohio AOCs (Maumee, Cuyahoga, Black, & Ashtabula) had the chance to share status updates and summaries of recent achievements and future goals. During the second half of the meeting, a break-out session was held during which committee members and facilitating organizations were able meet in small groups to share ideas, questions, and suggestions. Finally, the meeting concluded with a general Q&A session, where participants were able to pull on the group collective for answers to questions and/or concerns.

Soon to be Released - MAAC Annual Report!

Report CoverWe are excited to share that work on the 2019 MAAC Annual Report has been underway for a couple of months and it is nearly ready for the presses (and digital release on the MAAC’s website resource page)! The Report will be updated each year to showcase progress made towards eventual AOC delisting. Please consider requesting copies of the Report to pass out at the next applicable meeting or conference that you attend and share the digital version widely.

We are also working on crafting a series of “rack cards” to highlight and summarize four projects that were/are being conducted under BUI 14b (Wildlife Habitat). Once completed, these cards will be available for distribution at meetings and conferences as well. Stay tuned for updates regarding completion and availability of these new materials!

The Maumee AOC Committee works toward fishable and swimmable waters in the Maumee Area of Concern and delisting the beneficial use impairments. The Committee is working towards all major restoration projects being completed by 2025, through collaboration of partners and volunteer opportunities by its facilitating organization, Partners for Clean Streams. The committee is made up of representatives from various organizations, citizens, businesses and non-government agencies to build long term solutions to the area’s water quality issues.