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Ducks Unlimited and several conservation partners have reached a milestone in the revitalization of vital coastal wetland habitat at Toussaint Wildlife Area in northwest Ohios Ottawa County.

Phase I of the multi-stage project has concluded and replaced more than a mile of levees along the Toussaint River. Over the past several months workers also installed a new water-control and seasonal fish passage structure.

The $3 million project is upgrading the wetland management infrastructure, which will improve management of 125 acres of wetlands.

Phase I was funded by grants provided to Ducks Unlimited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Phase II will begin this year to renovate additional river levees and install a new pump and water-control structures. Phase II is funded through The Nature Conservancy, which obtained Great Lakes Restoration Initiative dollars through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Sustain Our Great Lakes program. Phase III, with funding from NOAA, will replace more levees and replace additional water-control structures and add a fish passage.

Crucial to the project is funding as part of a $5-million contribution by Energy Transfer Partners in support of wetland conservation efforts in Ohio and Louisiana.

Toussaint Wildlife Areas coastal wetlands are in the Maumee Area of Concern in Ohio. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) are locations having experienced environmental degradation. The areas have significant impairment of beneficial uses because of human activities.

Since most of Great Lakes AOC's are in coastal and riparian zones, the restoration and enhancement of wetlands in these areas is vital for fish and wildlife.