Howard Marsh a true testament to wetland conservation
The familiar, dreamy, if-you-build-it-they-will-come mantra from Kevin Costner’s “Field of Dreams” film has come to life in the new, 1,000-acre Howard Marsh Metropark just east of Toledo along western Lake Erie.
Howard Marsh, once a drained and farmed shoreline wetlands, is being restored by Toledo Metroparks as part of the mosaic of private, state, and federal wetlands that string out from Toledo east to Huron, and north to Monroe, Mich. All these diked, managed marshes are remnants of some 300,000 acres of coastal Erie marshlands that nearly disappeared under the pressures of development and agriculture.
The “they-will-come” part of the mantra refers to bird species – 267 different species verified all in just the first year since the Metropark was opened. A lot of those are waterfowl, ducks to resident trumpeter and migratory tundra swans, with loads of Canada geese (several races) and even a couple of white pelicans in between. On one visit during early spring migration when the ducks came through, I easily logged nine duck species in a day.
“That’s more than half the total number of species ever recorded in the entire state,” said Scott Carpenter, a Toledo Metroparks spokesman, about the Howard first-year bird tally. “Magee Marsh (Ohio Division of Wildlife’s heralded marshland) has documented 300-plus species, but it also has forested areas that Howard Marsh does not yet have, so Magee sees another 30-plus warbler species.”
“I’m sure all of the Lake Erie marshes have similarly impressive numbers,” he added. “But to see so many different birds so quickly since we converted agricultural land to wetlands is one heck of a testimony to conservation and restoration.”
Amen to that.