Imagine a one-mile strip of bald eagles, migratory bird habitat and protected shoreline with public access along the Lake Erie shore in Ohio!
A unique opportunity exists to preserve the last large unprotected coastal marsh on Lake Erie. Several landowners have come forward expressing their willingness to sell and preserve 1200 acres of land on East Sandusky Bay in Erie County. This area is adjacent to other conserved lands, including Sheldon’s Marsh State Nature Preserve and Putnam Marsh. Some of the land may also be donated. The total cost for preservation of this land will be about $6 million dollars. The area to be preserved was home to the only bald eagles that survived in Ohio when DDT and other factors wiped out the eagle population in the 1960’s. The area currently has a nesting pair of bald eagles.
The properties are in close proximity to the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Reserve, one of 25 National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR) sites around the country and currently the only one located on the Great Lakes. Protection of East Sandusky Bay offers tremendous water quality and ecological benefits, as well as numerous recreational and educational opportunities.
Because East Sandusky Bay has become a heavily visited recreational area, development has moved into the area quickly and developers have shown interest in the available property. Acquisition of the 1200 acres will help to protect dwindling shoreline open space amidst a rapidly developing area, and will also help to protect water quality along two tributaries of East Sandusky Bay flowing through the project area, Plum Brook and Dildine Ditch. Acquisition of this land will also prevent an increase in storm runoff and other non-point pollution, which could result from its development, thus helping to stop further erosion and nutrient loading into the streams and Lake Erie.
Senator Mike DeWine has helped secure a $2 million appropriation from the Federal Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program in the fiscal year 2003 Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations bill, which still has to pass the full Senate and House. There needs to be a local match for these funds to be allocated, therefore additional funding will be sought from the Clean Ohio Fund. The Trust for Public Land is managing the purchase, however if the purchase is finalized, the area would be managed through the Erie MetroParks.