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Ecologically Rich Areas - Critical Ecosystem Team
  June 1999 Draft


Ecologically Rich Areas

Critical Ecosystems nominated by partners by county

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CENTRAL OHIO back to top

Central Ohio was formerly a combination of unique features including beech-sugar maple forests and a variety of wetland types, such as bogs and fens. The region of central Ohio has four watersheds containing large contiguous forests (including old growth forests), sphagnum bogs and boreal fens. These ecosystems are threatened by invasive exotic species, nonpoint source pollution and development. Some of these ecosystems support unique plant and animal habitats that are not found anywhere else in the world. Central Ohio also has a significant number of endangered plant and animal species. However, there has been improvement in these ecosystems because of the activities under federal, state and local programs. Water quality can be improved by stream restoration, including restoration of more natural flow regimes and channel alignment, restoration of quality in-stream habitat conditions and improvement of riparian corridor vegetation and land use.

Ecological Values 
Several important ecosystems are found in the counties of Coshocton, Knox, Wayne, Licking, Muskingum, Holmes, Ashland and Richland in central Ohio. The watersheds of the Muskingum River, Walhonding River, Killbuck Creek, and Wakatomika Creek are on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife’s "List of Priority Watersheds" in Ohio based on aquatic wildlife diversity. The Muskingum River watershed, one of Ohio’s ten largest watersheds, provides a wealth of mussel and fish diversity. In a review conducted by The Nature Conservancy national office, the Muskingum watershed was listed as one of the most critical watersheds in North America to conserve fish and mussel diversity.

Boreal fens occur in Holmes County in the glaciated part of Ohio. Fens are especially valuable due to the high number of rare plant species they harbor. Sphagnum peat bogs, more rare in Ohio than fens, are found around kettlehole lakes that remain from the Wisconsinan Glacier.

Remnants of contiguous old growth forests that once covered 90% of this region are also important ecosystems. Central Ohio is home to a number of State listed endangered plant (1-5) and animal (15-27) species.

Multi-Partner Stewardship Efforts 
There are numerous federal, state, and local agencies, as well as private organizations that are active in conservation efforts around the State. Activities include land acquisition and management.

River otter, a species once abundant in Ohio, has been reintroduced in several Ohio watersheds, including Killbuck Creek and Little Muskingum River. Through programs such as the Wetland Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Reserve Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service is focusing efforts on ecosystem protection and restoration. The Western Muskingum River has been designated as an EQIP area. The protection and restoration of forested corridors along streams is one of the primary goals of many watershed plans. Currently, there are more than 50 agencies and organizations in Ohio involved with the long-term protection of stream corridors. Other protected segments occur in many state and national forests and state wildlife areas. An example includes more than seven miles of corridor protected along Killbuck Creek in the Killbuck Wildlife Area in Wayne and Holmes Counties.

Many of the high-quality bogs, fens and old growth forests that remain in Ohio are protected by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Natural Areas and Preserves and The Nature Conservancy. Preserves managed by the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves include Fowler Woods, Cranberry Bog, Brown’s Lake Bog, Morris Woods, Knox Woods, Johnson Woods, Clear Fork Gorge and Blackhand Gorge.

The state government plays a major role in how Ohio’s biological diversity is protected, managed and restored. It works directly to protect biological diversity by acquiring and managing lands. The state also offers a variety of programs to local governments, private landowners, and citizens concerned about biological diversity protection. By providing technical assistance, financial assistance and educational information, the state helps to promote the protection and restoration of biological diversity on public and private lands.

Ohio has a diverse and active array of local park districts and metroparks that contribute indirectly or directly to the protection of biological diversity through management activities and programs. Park activities include working with ODNR, private conservation organizations and the Ohio Department of Transportation on native plant collection and propagation projects.

Human-Induced Stresses Impacting the Area  

  • Diffuse sources of pollution, such as runoff or nonpoint source pollution from urbanized areas, agriculture, and modification of water resources, have emerged as the primary sources of continued threat to aquatic systems.

  • Many of streams have been affected by in-stream modification, non-point source pollution such as sediment and organics and the loss of beneficial riparian vegetation.

  • Almost all of Ohio’s forests have been logged at some time. Development further fragments remaining forested ecosystems.

  • Ohio’s fens are threatened by dredging, flooding, road construction, urban and agricultural development and the invasion of non-native species.

  • Exotic species in Ohio, both plants and animals, have disrupted natural communities across the state.

EPA’s Contribution 

  • Air Division could promote natural landscaping to private and public landowners in the central Ohio region, which will aid in reducing nonpoint source pollution, conserving water and providing habitat for wildlife.



The only region in Ohio not shaped by glaciers, pre-European settlement the Western Allegheny Plateau ecoregion contained mixed oak forests, with steep valleys and ridges. Mining and timber harvesting have since impacted natural resources in the region.

Today, water and aquatic habitat quality are a key concern. The Little Muskingum River with its lack of urban development provides an opportunity for protection and continued restoration, such as the reintroduction of river otter. Non-point source pollution is a present concern in this area, but degradation of this system through point-source pollution in the form of power and chemical plants also occurs. Natural flow regimes, riparian vegetation and natural channel alignment in these aquatic systems should be restored. Land use should be considered with the goal of the improvement of stream quality in mind. The designation of Muskingum River as a scenic river by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources could increase awareness of the special importance of the Muskingum River and protect this valuable resource.

Ecological Values 
The counties of Washington, Monroe and Noble, as well as part of Belmont County, contain a number of significant habitats. The Lower Muskingum River contains a high amount of mussel and fish diversity, and is important in the sport fisheries industry. The Muskingum River also provides habitat for threatened and endangered species. The Little Muskingum River is unique

because it is the largest river in Ohio without a major city in its basin. The Little Muskingum River supports endangered and threatened species and has high aquatic diversity. Captina Creek supports high aquatic diversity. In addition, this region contains greater than 25% forest cover so is important in the effort to conserve large tracts of forested area.

Multi-Partner Stewardship Efforts 
The Muskingum River is managed through efforts of The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ODNR Ohio Division of Wildlife. A few areas of small forest tracts are protected through the ODNR Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has identified the Muskingum Watershed as an Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) area. In this program, the NRCS will provide technical, educational, and financial assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water and related natural resource concerns on lands in this watershed in an environmentally beneficial manner. The Ohio Division of Wildlife has released otters into the Little Muskingum River. Forested habitat is managed within Wayne National Forest. Preserves managed by Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves include Emerald Hills, Rothenbuhler Woods, Acadia Cliffs, Boord and Ladd Natural Bridge.

Human-Induced Stresses Impacting the Area

  • Exotic and invasive species threaten the fish and mussel diversity of the Muskingum River. Illegal harvesting of mussels is also a threat.

  • Aquatic habitat alteration, caused in part by lock construction, is a concern in the Muskingum River, as well as heavy recreational use.

  • A number of power plants in the Muskingum River watershed increase the possibility of thermal pollution in the Muskingum River. In addition, the release of atmospheric pollutants from these power plants and the resultant acid rain can adversely affect both aquatic and terrestrial resources.

  • Sedimentation and runoff are threatening all of the aquatic systems. Non-point source pollution in the form of nutrient enrichment may adversely affect these systems.

  • All terrain vehicle activity is degrading habitat in Captina Creek.

  • Fragmentation and development threaten forested habitat.

  • In Washington County, a "chemical corridor" of chemical plants have the potential to negatively affect resources in this region.

  • Coal mining and timber harvesting are among the major land uses in this region.

EPA’s Contribution 

  • The environmental effects of the many power and chemical plants should be considered in light of the ecological importance of this area.

  • Review of wetland permits in this area should be assessed with the importance of riparian wetlands to water quality in mind.


WEST CENTRAL OHIO  back to top

West central Ohio is part of the Eastern Corn Belt Plain ecoregion, which was once covered by beech-sugar maple forests interspersed with prairie openings. Most of the historical habitat has been replaced by agriculture, yet some natural areas remain. This area is in need of preservation and restoration of natural habitats, coupled with control of nutrients, chemicals, erosion and stream water temperatures. The high water quality of the area’s watersheds must be maintained.

Ecological Values 
For the purposes of this project, the following counties were considered as the west central Ohio region: Champaign, Clark, Greene, Logan, Madison, Union, Franklin and Pickaway. Prairie fens are an important ecosystem in this region. They contain a number of rare plant and animal species, including many state-listed species. The Darby Plains area contains remnants of tall-grass prairie. The Big Darby creek is one of the most pristine waterways in Ohio and one of the top five freshwater habitats in the nation. The Darby Creek watershed is home to one of the richest and most diverse assemblage of aquatic life anywhere on earth with 86 species of fish and 40 species of mussels, many of them rare or endangered. A remarkable diversity of species is also found in the forests and remaining prairies that line the creek’s banks. The Little Miami River has "very good" water quality and Little Darby Creek has "exceptional" water quality, based on the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s biological assessment of water quality. The Little Miami River supports endangered species and also contains areas of relict boreal habitats, which support northern species rare in this area.

Multi-Partner Stewardship Efforts 
Native plant and wildlife species are being introduced and managed to create more diverse habitats. Farmland is being re-forested for habitat development. Land use practices are being improved for the long term protection of critical habitats such as streams, riparian corridors, preserves and wetlands. Buffer strips are being placed along areas to minimize environmental impacts. A carbon sequestration process (carbon sink) is being developed. Burns are being prescribed to restore the natural balance of areas. Watershed protection strategies which focus on improving land uses by reducing pollution and watershed plans are being developed. Big and Little Darby Creek, as well as the Little Miami River are designated as state and national scenic rivers.

The Little Miami, Inc is a non-profit organization consisting of many individuals, foundations and corporate supporters who actively protect riparian corridors through acquisition and conservation easements. The Little Miami, Inc. also negotiates protection strategies with developers, landowners and public officials whose actions impact the Little Miami River.

Darby Creek has many partners (see Appendix A) working to protect it. The Nature Conservatory is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving plants, animals and natural communities by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive and is actively involved in the protection and conservation of the Big Darby Watershed. The Nature Conservancy is creating a Freshwater Initiative program intended to employ scientific knowledge and expertise to drive community based conservation approaches. Wetland restoration will take place along Darby Creek as a part of the Freshwater Initiative. An effort to create a Darby National Wildlife Refuge is underway. Hidden Creek is a environmentally sensitive planned development incorporating portions of Little Darby Creek. More than 320 acres of river corridor have been set aside under permanent conservation easement as a nature preserve in this development. The Dayton Power and Light company provided funding to plant native trees on 40 acres of privately owned land along Little Darby Creek. EPA has played a continuing role in the protection efforts in this watershed.

The Ohio Nature Preserves protects the following important habitats: Cedar Bog, Davey Woods, Kiser Lake Wetlands, Siegenthaler-Kaestner Esker, Crabill Fen, Gallagher/Springfield Fen, Prairie Road Fen, Clifton Gorge, Travertine Fen, Zimmerman Prairie, Owens/Liberty Fen, Bigelow Cemetery, Smith Cemetery and Milford Center Railroad Prairie.

Human-Induced Stresses Impacting the Area  

  • Land development, point sources from industrial operations, the spread of urban areas, and agricultural activities are stresses in west central Ohio.

  • This region contains Ohio’s prime farmlands and as a result, phosphate enrichment and sedimentation is threatening water resources.

EPA’s Contribution 

  • EPA can contribute through its base programs by aiding and supporting current state programs and ensuring the protection of these areas.

  • Agricultural runoff is a concern for EPA’s non-point source program.


SOUTH OHIO back to top

Southern Ohio is a part of two Ohio ecoregions, the Interior Plateau and the Western Allegheny Plateau. Pre-European settlement, the area’s limestone bedrock held prairie and cedar barren communities as well as oak forests on steep hillsides. This area still contains rare ecosystems including caves and prairies. The remaining remnants of these ecosystems are small, heightening the need to protect those areas that remain.

Ecological Values 
The southern portion of Ohio is located within the Ohio River Valley and consists of the counties of Adams, Brown, Scioto, Pike, Ross, Jackson, Gallia, Lawrence and Highland. Southern Ohio contains a high level of biological diversity and landscape diversity. South Ohio’s unique mosaic of habitats include large contiguous forests, prairie fens, prairies, caves, rivers and streams and the Ohio River itself. Caves in the area support populations of the endangered Indiana brown bat. Two species of arthropods are endemic to single caves in Ross and Adams Counties. The Edge of Appalachia system is also a valuable ecosystem which contains cedar barrens and some relict prairie communities. Poor thin soils in this area support many endangered or rare plants (80 species) and animals (20 species) in very diverse communities. The presence of both acid and rich alkaline soils create a series of diverse and unusual community types. Whiteoak Creek, Scioto River, Paint Creek, Scioto Brush Creek, Little Scioto River, Symmes Creek, Ohio Brush Creek and Eagle Creek are all important watersheds in this area and contain high levels of biodiversity. Many of the above watersheds also support endangered species, such as clubshell clam. The Ohio Brush Watershed forms the border of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve and is designated a "near-exceptional" warm water habitat by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Multi-Partner Stewardship Efforts 
The Nature Conservancy and the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History manage areas within the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, which is designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. The riparian corridor is being restored on the Ohio Brush Creek by the Nature Conservancy and Cinergy, a large private energy company. The Indiana bat is a federally listed endangered species, whose existence depends on the protection of caves. Although the caves are not currently protected by the state, the protection of the Indiana bat may indirectly protect the caves, and/or create a need to formally protect the caves. Shawnee State Forest and Wayne National Forest contain large areas of contiguous forest.

Preserves managed by Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves include Miller Nature Sanctuary, Adams Lake Prairie, Chaparral Prairie, Davis Memorial, Strait Creek Prairie Bluff, Unity Woods, Whipple, Raven Rock, Compass Plant Prairie, Lake Katharine, and Betsch Fen.

Human-Induced Stresses Impacting the Area  

  • The large contiguous forests are highly fragmented and sections of the forests are privately owned.

  • There is a lack of formal state protection over the caves present in this area which endangers their future existence.

  • The waterways and watersheds are impacted by development and urban and agricultural runoff.

  • The prairies in Ohio, of which only remnants remain, are threatened by elimination and replacement by agriculture.

  • Continuing stressors include the introduction and expansion of nonindigenous species such as the zebra mussel and purple loosestrife, expansion of urban and suburban areas resulting in the loss of habitat, and poor land-use practices that adversely affect aquatic ecosystems.

EPA’s Contribution 

  • U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA regulate emissions into the air, water, and ground through several different regulatory statutes.

  • Endangered species are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and there are parcels of land in this area that are publicly owned.


NORTHEAST OHIO back to top

Formerly, northeast Ohio was rolling hills and bogs, fens and swampy forests. Today, this region is one of the most heavily populated in Ohio. Because of the historical changes that have occurred and the small amount of land in public ownership, wildlife diversity conservation cannot be approached in northeast Ohio simply by setting aside large reserves representing the original ecosystem types. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Division of Wildlife, believes the task of protecting and restoring wildlife diversity has to include private lands. Most of the private lands have been significantly altered from original conditions.

Ecological Values 
The Erie-Ontario Lake Plain ecoregion is the most industrialized portion of the state and includes the counties of Ashtabula, Trumbell, Portage, Geauga, Lake, Starke and Summit. Many rare, northern plant species are found in this area in bogs, fens and large swamp forests. The forests have rebounded from their historic low in 1940. ODNR estimates there are only a handful of high quality, sphagnum peat bogs remaining in the state. Some bogs support populations of the rare spotted turtle. The wetlands provide habitat for a number of animal and plant species.

The Pymatuning Creek Watershed, the Grand River Watershed, and the Chagrin River are important water areas in the area. Pymatuning Creek watershed contains a high quality wetland complex with small fen and numerous rare plants. Pymatuning Creek provides habitat for several rare species of mussels.

The Grand River is in good condition with high biodiversity, including endangered species. Wetlands along the river support rare and endangered species, including the river otter. Some portions of the Cuyahoga River contain high biodiversity and support rare species. The headwaters of Chagrin River support Ohio’s only population of native brook trout.

The Lake Erie Ecosystem includes the Lake Erie basin, the remaining wetlands and sand beaches that line the lake. It supports a wide variety of fish and wildlife that contribute to the high biodiversity of the area. Lake Erie is the most productive of the great lakes.

The Akron Kames is an area shaped by glaciers that includes a large mosaic of bogs, fens and marshes. Oak barrens were formerly abundant in northeastern Ohio and only one still exists in Ashtabula County. Hemlock-hardwood swamps are found only in Ashtabula County. Glacial kettle lakes provide habitat for many species of rare aquatic plants and animals.

Multi-Partner Stewardship Efforts 
The Grand River, Cuyahoga River and Chagrin River are designated as state scenic rivers. The ODNR’s Department of Natural Areas and Preserves is responsible for protecting the best remaining natural areas in Ohio. The Kent Bog State Natural Preserve is one of the highest quality bog meadow communities in Ohio. The Gott Fen is one of the finest boreal fens in the state with rare northern species. The Nature Conservancy, Grand River Partners, Ohio Division of Wildlife and Lake Metroparks are working together on issues facing the Grand River. The Morgan Swamp Preserve, found along the Grand River, protects 900 acres of one of the largest undeveloped interior wetlands in Ohio and is managed by The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy owns more than two miles of Grand River frontage. The Nature Conservancy owns the following preserves near or on Akron Kames: White Pine Bog Forest, Herrick Fen, Crystal Lake and Beck Fen. The Nature Conservancy recently added a Conservancy program in northeast Ohio and will continue a strong focus in the area.

Preserves managed by Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves include Pallister, Pymatuning Creek Wetlands, Hach-Otis, Headlands Dunes, Mentor Marsh, Evans Beck Memorial, Eagle Creek, Flatiron Lake Bog, Frame Lake Fen, Gott Fen, Cooperrider-Kent Bog, Mantua Bog, Marsh Wetlands, Tinker’s Creek, Triangle Lake Bog, Tummonds, Karlo Fen, Portage Lakes Wetland, and Jackson Bog.

Human-Induced Stresses Impacting the Area  

  • The major stress for the northeast Ohio region is habitat loss. The forest land, bog communities, oak barrens and watersheds all suffer from this threat.

  • Wildlife species dependent upon wetlands have suffered substantially due to habitat loss and degradation.

  • Exotic and invasive species threaten plant and animal populations.

EPA’s Contribution 

  • The new federal inter-agency task force on invasive species will be highlighting problem areas. EPA should move to include northeast Ohio as an example and recommend further action to control or eliminate invasives.

  • Wetlands enforcement should include a look at the region as a whole and target actions to best help wetland resources.


NORTHWEST OHIO back to top

Pre-European settlement, northeast Ohio was part of the Great Black Swamp, a forested wetland on the former Lake Erie lakebed. Today, the Oak Openings–dune, prairie, oak savanna, and wetland remnants–remain in small, scattered fragments. Corrective actions that are needed in northwest Ohio are riparian vegetation improvement, land use that improves water quality, restoration of quality in-stream habitat conditions and more natural flow regimes and channel alignment in areas such as the Maumee River Watershed, and restoration of upland savanna and prairie areas to prevent erosion.

Habitats in the Oak Openings are maintained by two processes, periodic fire and dry, sandy soils. Fire eliminates woody vegetation. The understory of the oaks is a lush grassland. Today, remnants need aggressive management consisting of removal of woody vegetation, conducting prescribed burns, and protecting native species.

While existing protected areas are isolated from each other and have suffered some impairment, they tend to be exceptionally diverse in their flora and fauna, and often in good to excellent condition overall. However, as a whole, the region exhibits a very low percentage of natural landscapes and poor ecological connections. Some decline in biodiversity has already been observed and the risk of long-term species loss appears high. The key need is a long-term securement of as much of the remaining natural habitat as possible. Invasive species and visitor pressures also need to be addressed. Finally, building public awareness, support, and involvement in biodiversity conservation is a key challenge.

Ecological Values
The Huron Lake Erie Plain ecoregion in northwest Ohio, including the counties of Lucas, Henry, Ottawa, Sandusky, Wood, Erie, Fulton and Seneca, has many important habitats. On the Lake Erie islands and the Marblehead Peninsula, limestone bedrock outcrops come to the surface, creating distinctive and biologically rich habitats. This includes several alvar sites and a unique complex of meadows, prairies, savannas and woodlands on thin soils that shelter over 100 species of rare flora and fauna. The Marblehead Peninsula has remnants of alvar habitat that supports a population of Lakeside Daisy, a Great Lakes endemic species that is globally endangered.

On the Lake Erie Lakeplain lies a 130 square mile region in Lucas, Henry, and Fulton Counties of Ohio known as the Oak Openings. Post-glacial beach ridges and swales sustain black oak savanna, oak woodland and wet prairie communities. The savanna and prairie communities are considered globally rare. The twig rush-sedge wet prairie is a community unique to the Oak Openings.

The Lake Erie Ecosystem is made up of not only Lake Erie, but includes the islands, sand beaches, dunes and wetlands that line Lake Erie. It supports a wide variety of fish and wildlife that contribute to the high biodiversity of the area. Lake Erie is the most productive of the great lakes.

The Maumee River watershed contains not only the Maumee River but all the tributaries. It supports both a high diversity of aquatic species and several endangered aquatic species. The forests that are in northwest Ohio contain some of the oldest living trees in the state. The prairies are the most significant tall grass prairies in Ohio, and the fens sustain a variety of rare plant species. The Sandusky River contains a high diversity of aquatic species, along with endangered and threatened species.

Multi-Partner Stewardship Efforts
Several nature preserves protect important habitat in the area (See Appendix B). Lakeside Daisy Preserve is home of 12 endangered plant species in Ohio. The Old Woman Creek Nature Preserve is home to the nesting grounds for the bald eagle and Sheldon Marsh sustains a number of unusual plants. The Audubon Islands, which is the only riverine island nature preserve in Ohio, is situated within the Maumee River watershed. The Ottawa National Refuge protects 8,000 acres of marshland, grassland and forest. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Parks and Recreation, Wildlife, and Forestry provide assistance in this area in a variety of ways. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service leads programs such as the Wetland Reserve Program, the Wildlife Habitat Program and Conservation Reserve Program in the wetlands along Lake Erie to combat problems such as fragmentation. The Sandusky and Maumee Rivers are considered state scenic rivers.

The Nature Conservancy is working to preserve the oak openings of this region. The restoration of the Karner Blue butterfly and its associated habitat is being conducted by The U. S. Fish and Wildlife service, Toledo Zoo, The Nature Conservancy and Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The Natural Areas Stewardship is a local land trust dedicated to preserving the Oak Openings. Restoration of savanna and barren communities is underway in Toledo Metroparks.

From Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve to Toledo along the southern Lake Erie shoreline, are a number of federal and state wildlife refuges, including Ottawa and Cedar Point National Refuges, which comprise over 30,000 acres. Dikes, pump stations and water control structures are in place at a number of the coastal wetland sites as part of large scale efforts to restore habitat for bald eagles, waterfowl and neotropical migrants as well as fish and other animals.

The Maumee River Area of Concern is focusing on impairments that are the result of agricultural runoff, combined sewer overflows, and contaminated sediments. A Remedial Action Planning process is in place to deal with these water quality problems. Water quality should improve through the implementation of the Maumee River Remedial action plan by such agencies as Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.

Ecoregional Prioritization
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is undertaking to build a conservation vision in the Maumee Lake Plain of Western Lake Erie. Through a process called ecoregional prioritization, TNC will determine exactly where their conservation efforts need to be focused by determining threats to key sites and the potential resources to protect them. Part of the process includes filling gaps in existing biological information, databases to ensure that conservation decisions are based on credible scientific information, designing site-specific conservation strategies for key biodiversity sites, and translating these strategies into on-the-ground protection activities.

Metzger Marsh Restoration
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, U.S. Geological Survey and others are working to restore coastal wetlands at Metzger Marsh on the southern shore of Lake Erie. A dike, pump station, and water control structure were installed and are being monitored as part of the restoration which will provide habitat for waterfowl and other animals. The wetlands will also enhance agricultural drainage, improve water quality, and enhance recreational and educational opportunities.

Preserves managed by Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves include Goll Woods, Erie Sand Barrens, DuPont Marsh, Sheldon Marsh, Lakeside Daisy, Audubon Islands, Campbell, Irwin Prairie and Kitty Todd.

Human-Induced Stresses Impacting the Area

  • Common industry related activities including mining, development, and road construction contribute to the degradation of the area.

  • Non-point source pollution, from sources such as agricultural runoff and combined sewer outflows, continues to be a problem in the watersheds of this area.

  • Loss of riparian habitat adversely affects waterways.

  • Non-native species of wildlife continue to cause problems in areas such as the prairie fens and boreal fens.

  • Agricultural activities threaten the Maumee River in the upper basin, while the lower basin contains heavy industrial activity. A history of filling wetland areas with municipal and industrial wastes has contaminated sections of the Maumee River.

  • The major threat in this area is the further loss of remnant natural areas and, as a result, the further isolation of natural populations and communities.

  • A threat associated with intensive land use is water quality, particularly in the tributary streams and rivers which carry large amounts of nutrients, sediments, and associated pollutants into Lake Erie. This can cause habitat deterioration in estuarine marshes, as well as contributing to loadings within Lake Erie.

  • Invasive species also pose a threat to the integrity of the area’s ecosystems. Zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, garlic mustard, and many other invasive species are present in abundance withing this region and pose constant management problems.

  • Recreational pressures such as trampling of vegetation, off road vehicles, or wakes caused by boat traffic stress natural areas.

  • Overfishing, pollution and siltation from agricultural runoff threaten fish populations in Lake Erie.

  • Lucas county contains a high number (54) of leaking waste sites and landfills.

  • Fire suppression and development are adversely affecting habitats in the Oak Openings. In addition, lowering of water tables also threatens twig rush-sedge wet prairies and other wetland habitat.

  • Limestone extraction threatens alvar communities.

EPA’s Contribution

  • The EPA contribution for the protection and restoration for all of these ecosystems consists of Region 5 Program actions through increased enforcement, compliance, and permitting activities near these ecosystems.

  • The Region 5 Critical Ecosystem Team, as well as other Region 5 Teams, can facilitate and coordinate protective and restorative activities in and near these ecosystems by partners and communities.

  • Non-point source pollution from agricultural runoff contributes to poor stream water quality in the region. EPA can give technical and financial assistance to address problems.

  • Wetland loss and restoration is a high priority. EPA wetland enforcement and technical assistance is key to any recovery.

Appendix A–Members of Darby Creek Partnership  back to top

  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U. S. Geological Survey
  • Operation Future Association
  • The Darby Creek Association
  • Rivers Unlimited
  • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
  • Farm Services Agency
  • Ohio State University Extension
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District
  • Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
  • U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Honda Corporation
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Darby Creek Advisory Council
  • Ohio Farm Bureau
  • The Ohio State University Division of Urban Planning
  • Franklin County Zoning Commission
  • Smallmouth Alliance
  • Open Space Alliance
  • Battelle Corporation
  • The Ohio State University Department of Landscape Architecture
  • City of Columbus Division of Water
  • U. S. Forest Service
  • Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce
  • The Columbus Foundation
  • The Nature Conservancy

Appendix B–Northwest Ohio Protected Areas   back to top

National Wildlife Refuge/Research Reserves:

  • Ottawa
  • Cedar Point
  • West Sister Island
  • Old Woman Creek

State Parks:

  • Maumee Bay
  • Crane Creek
  • Catawba Island
  • East Harbor
  • Kelleys Island
  • South Bass

State Nature Preserves/Wildlife Areas:

  • Metzger Marsh
  • Toussaint
  • Pickerel Creek
  • Willow Point
  • Little Portage
  • Lakeside Daisy
  • Sheldon Marsh

Private Nature Reserves:

  • Toledo Metroparks
  • Kitty Todd


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