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Published: Monday, 8/12/2013

Metroparks to discuss wetlands restoration

Public open house slated on eastern Lucas Co. land

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The public will have an opportunity Tuesday to help shape the future of farmland in eastern Lucas County that the Metroparks of the Toledo Area wants to restore into coastal wetlands.

A public open house will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Jerusalem Township Hall, 9501 Jerusalem Rd., near Curtice, during which Metroparks staff will discuss plans to restore about 1,000 acres near State Rt. 2 to natural, wetlands habitat.

The property, west of Metzger Marsh in the township, has been known for years as Howard Farms.

“The goal of the Metroparks is to restore the land back to wetlands, which is rapidly disappearing,” said Scott Carpenter, Metroparks spokesman. “This is a highly important habitat on the Great Lakes for a myriad wildlife, particularly water fowl and migrating song birds.”

The property currently is farmed but lies within the Lake Erie Coastal Zone and is separated from the lake only by the Reno Beach neighborhood.

The Metroparks purchased the land in April, 2008, from John Gradel for $6 million. A state grant covered about $4.8 million of the price; Ducks Unlimited, an international nonprofit organization, contributed $10,000, and the Metroparks’ 0.3-mill land acquisition levy will cover the balance.

Mr. Carpenter said staff will answer questions about drainage and ask for comments from the public about plans for the proposed park. “We will be sharing with people our plans for restoring the wetlands. At the same time we will be gathering public input on what they would like to see as far as park amenities,” he said. “We know that drainage and flood protection will be first and foremost on many people’s minds who live nearby. We will maintain and improve the flood protection there.”

Representatives from Ducks Unlimited, which will be working with the Metroparks to design the wetlands restoration, and SmithGroupJJR, which has been contracted to design the park, will be at the public meeting.

There is no timeline to begin work on the project, but the Metroparks hopes to have the design plans available by the end of October. A second public meeting will be held before the Metroparks approves the final plans.

“From the input at the meeting, the park district can develop plans on its use. Until we know what the design will be we won’t know the timeline. But I can tell you that in the next five years we will have the park open,” Mr. Carpenter said.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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