DU pivotal in 1,000-acre Howard Marsh Metropark

DU, partners restoring former agricultural land back to wetlands to benefit ducks, provide recreational opportunities

Ducks Unlimited has helped transform nearly 1,000 acres of former agricultural land back to wetlands and other habitat to benefit ducks and provide recreational opportunities.

The project has restored the former farmland into Howard Marsh, Metroparks Toledo's newest park.

DU, Metroparks Toledo, Ohio Division of Wildlife and others since 2013 have restored the 987-acre property in Lucas County. Ducks Unlimited engineered the project, which opened to the public April 28. See photos from the grand opening.

“More parks and trails will connect more people with the outdoors, and that’s ultimately what we are all about,” said Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks Toledo.

Six miles of dike-top walking trail around the marsh units and a quarter mile of boardwalk through the marsh will attract hikers and birders looking for species to check off on their life lists. About seven miles of navigable water and two kayak launch docks will provide a unique experience for paddlers. And for the first time in a Toledo Metropark, waterfowl hunting will be allowed this fall.

“This marsh has been a goal for conservation and recreation enthusiasts for many years,” said David Brakhage, director of conservation operations for Ducks Unlimited’s Great Lakes/Atlantic Region.

Howard Marsh will filter runoff water from surrounding farms and neighborhoods before it reaches Lake Erie, and provide important spawning habitat for fish and stopover habitat for a variety of birds.

Howard Marsh is the largest engineering effort in the Great Lakes for Ducks Unlimited. The 500-page engineering design plan included a high-priority dam which can withstand 26” of rain in 24 hours.

The project was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding from NOAA, by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Metroparks Toledo and Ducks Unlimited.


Take a 360 degree tour, courtesy of Metroparks of The Toledo Area.


Click on the map to see a full-size image of the metropark plans.