Ecologically restored marsh in Toledo, Ohio wins governor’s award for best public park

Near Toledo, Ohio, the Howard Marsh initiative is the single largest wetland restoration project completed under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Now, on February 5, 2019, Metroparks Toledo won the Ohio Parks & Recreation Association‘s (OPRA) 2018 Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation for the Phase 1 construction of the new Howard Marsh Metropark.

Accomplished goals included habitat restoration, enhanced water quality and improved recreation opportunities.

The achieved metrics include:

  • 571 acres of new restored coastal wetlands;
  • 116 acres of new upland habitat (including 7,500 new trees);
  • 6 miles of deep water channels for boating and fish habitat;
  • 6 miles of new hiking trails and boardwalks; and
  • 191 species of resident and migratory song birds, shorebirds and waterfowl have been documented using the restored habitat since the park’s opening in April of 2018.

Restoration in progress.

The park’s unique design immerses park visitors into a total wetland experience with a spectacular 360 degree view of three interconnected marshland units interspersed with nine restored upland habitat islands.

The Governor’s Award was established in 2010 to recognize the one park and recreation program or project that has had the most significant impact on quality of life in the preceding year.

The award winner was announced and the award presented at the OPRA Annual Awards Dinner on February 5, 2019 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky.

Howard Marsh is a fabulous Metropark and the culmination of a decade of partnership between Metroparks Toledo and many state and federal agencies,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward.

After restoration.

It helps to protect Ohio’s most valuable natural resource, promotes tourism and serves as a shining example of the way that parks and recreation agencies can improve the quality of life for the people they serve,” he added.

All fourteen winners of OPRA program and project awards were considered for this statewide “best in show” award.

Officials from eight statewide organizations formed the voting panel for the 2018 award. They included: Ohio Association of Broadcasters, Ohio Association of Realtors, Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, Ohio Homebuilders Association, Ohio Library Council, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Ohio Municipal League and Ohio Township Association.

They judged the program and project winners based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated impact of the program or project on the community quality of life;
  • The project or program is unique/innovative or presents a new way of doing something;
  • The program or project addresses a felt need in the community and includes clear goals which are achieved; and,
  • The program or project is utilized by the community and outcomes can be demonstrated.

In addition to the Governor’s Award trophy, Metroparks Toledo received a proclamation from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and a $500 contribution to their foundation.

All photos courtesy of MetroParks.

See Ohio Parks & Recreation Association website.

See MetroParks website.

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