Sheldon Marsh State Nature Reserve Update

Sheldon Marsh State Nature Reserve Update

An already constructed channel and dike in the Sheldon Marsh Wetlands Complex on the shore of Lake Erie is the subject of an upcoming public hearing. Dredged under a now-rescinded Nationwide Permit 27, the destruction is currently the source of a request for an after-the-fact permit. The new permit would allow maintenance of this structure and construction of an additional channel 500 feet in length through Sheldon Marsh, connecting the present channel to the waters of Lake Erie. A public hearing on the permit will be held June 12, 2001. The Friends of Sheldon Marsh Committee of the Firelands Audubon Society recently received a grant from GLAHNF to pursue restoration of the marsh to its pre-NWP 27 condition through public education. Check out their website at www.sheldonsmarsh.org.

Here is a short synopsis of the story over the last year from Friends of Sheldon Marsh:

  • Nationwide Permit 27 (NWP 27) issued by the Army Corps in June of 2000. (Application was made and approval was granted one day later.)
  • Nationwide permits are not to be issued in category III wetlands, or for water supply purposes. Sheldon Marsh is rated category III—highest quality—by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).
  • This project met none of the Army Corps’ requirements for Nationwide permits. The Army Corps eventually rescinded that permit when they determined the permit’s purpose was for water supply and not for “waterfowl nesting islands and deep water habitat” as originally stated on the project application.
  • No other required authorizations were obtained. These authorizations include OEPA water quality certification, Ohio Coastal Zone Program consistency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife endangered species consultations, Erie County flood control, etc. It is highly unlikely that these agencies would have authorized the permit.
  • The permit-holder violated the NWP 27 by digging the channel fifty feet wide rather than the twenty feet that the permit allowed. “The constructed channel waves red flags regarding the possibility of this waterway being used for recreational boat traffic sometime in the future” (Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources).
  • The original permit-holder has now applied (with modifications) for an after-the-fact authorization for the existing enlarged dike and channel. This project would not have been allowed under the first permit had proper application procedures been followed.
  • The public comment on the after-the-fact permit continues through June 11 and the public hearing is on June 12, 2001 in Sandusky, Ohio.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.