Wetlands, park get showcase status during contest

2013 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest was at Maumee Bay State Park

Matt Markey
Matt Markey

This is fly-over country for the folks from the coasts, and although we don’t have any natural wonders quite as dramatic as Yosemite, Yellowstone, or the Everglades here, there are still jewels to flaunt now and then.

Staging the 2013 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest at Maumee Bay State Park last Friday and Saturday presented just such an opportunity to show off one of Ohio’s best state parks, and the extensive complex of marshes and wetlands along the western Lake Erie shoreline.

Maumee Bay State Park played the lead role as the official host site, but the participants, guests, and visitors who took in the national competition got to experience the setting and the surrounding environment, which includes the nearby Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and a number of other public and privately owned wetlands, marshes, and fields.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the Lake Erie Marsh Association, Ducks Unlimited, the Winous Point Marsh Conservancy, Amplex Corporation, and Zink Duck Calls were the primary organizers and sponsors of the Duck Stamp Art competition.

“It has been just a fabulous event,” said Rachel Levin, communications coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s division of bird habitat conservation. “The Ohio DNR and the Division of Wildlife have been great partners, and the lodge here at Maumee Bay has been a terrific venue. We couldn’t ask for a better setting, with all of this wonderful habitat in the area.”

The park and its rustic yet modern lodge and conference center are located about 10 miles east of Toledo along Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay. The park encompasses 1,336 acres of primarily lush marshlands, grassy meadows, and swampy woodlands and is host to an abundance of wildlife. There are also 11 miles of hiking and biking trails that thread through the swamps and wetlands of this unique natural environment.

As host to the Duck Stamp competition, the most prestigious wildlife art contest in the country, Maumee Bay rolled out its green carpet for hundreds of artists, conservationists, biologists, and visitors from across the nation.

Paul J. Baicich of Maryland, who runs the Friends of the Migratory Bird/​Duck Stamp support organization, said he was very impressed with the facility, and the surrounding environment.

“This is a great place, and such an important location for waterfowl and migratory birds. There should be thousands of people here to enjoy and appreciate it, not just hundreds,” Baicich said. “The Duck Stamp is not simply about ducks, it’s about providing habitat, and you can look around here in just about any direction and see the benefits of good habitat.”

The Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, known simply as the Duck Stamp costs $15 and is a required purchase for all waterfowl hunters in the U.S, provides funding for the protection and conservation of vital habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The stamp also provides free admission to national wildlife refuges across the country and is often purchased by wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists, birders, stamp collectors and the general public.

With Maumee Bay State Park filling the main role, the ODNR had the opportunity to partner with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and a number of grassroots organizations to stage the contest. Ohio Division of Wildlife chief Scott Zody said once his department learned Ohio would host the event, there was little doubt about the actual site that would be chosen for the competition.

“We zeroed in on Maumee Bay right from the start,” he said. “And we wanted to not just host the contest, but make certain it would showcase what we’re doing here in Ohio. We have some outstanding conservation partnerships at work here.”

Zody cited the numerous efforts – some completed, some on-going and some in the planning stages – that have pooled the forces and resources of both governmental and private organizations to create and protect a wealth of habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife in the marshes and grasslands along western Lake Erie’s Ohio coastline.

There are thousands of waterfowl, songbirds, and other bird species that use the area as a stop-over during their migration, and the Lake Erie shoreline is a haven for nesting bald eagles.

“We’re right in the heart of where we’re seeing these partnerships making a difference,” Zody said.

The 2013 Duck Stamp competition was won by Ohio native Adam Grimm, whose oil painting of a pair of canvasback ducks will be made into the 2014-2015 Federal Duck Stamp, which will go on sale next June.

DEER CHECK INFO: Ohio is offering an enhanced Web site that will give hunters a quick and simple means to check in harvested white-tailed deer by using a smartphone. The mobile-friendly site is available for all hunters to check deer, including landowners not required to purchase a deer permit. A valid email address and phone number are required to use the Web site. Hunters can also check in their deer by calling 877-TAG-ITOH (824-4864) or visiting a license agent.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.