Large Restoration Project Slated For Audubon Islands

The Audubon Islands, located between Maumee and Perrysburg in the Maumee River, are home to plant and animal life of all sizes. Erosion has started to shrink the islands, and Metroparks Toledo has enlisted the help of several organizations to slow the process. PHOTOS COURTESY OF METROPARKS TOLEDO
Plans to slow the erosion on the island involve the installation of stone of varying sizes, logs, root wads, native vegetation and more.
The metroparkstoledo.com/island website will be updated with ongoing plans and the public is encouraged to contact Metroparks Toledo with comments or concerns about the projects.

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — A large restoration project is in the works at the Audubon Islands between Maumee and Perrysburg, thanks to the efforts of Metroparks Toledo and a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant.

To help restore the land and slow down the erosion on the nearly 192-acre island complex, which is managed by Metroparks Toledo, the $3.6 million grant will involve the installation of stone, root wads, logs, native vegetation and more.

“How this actually came about, in 2018, the Maumee Area of Concern Advisory Committee, including individuals from this area, the Maumee watershed, identified that this portion of the river should receive funding,” said Zurijanne Carter, deputy chief natural resources officer with Metroparks Toledo.

The design-build team, made up of Verdantas and Mark Haynes Construction, has been working closely with the Metroparks staff to outline the restoration process.

“We’re now in the design and permitting phase, so we’re putting together some conceptual plans and walking everyone thorough what we’re doing,” said project manager Philip Hicks of Verdantas. “We want to get feedback from the public – any concerns or good ideas. A lot of people have historical knowledge, so we want to get that information from them.”

In order to receive that feedback, staff members held an open house at the Maumee branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library on July 13.

Residents were invited to learn more about the project, ask questions and provide unique insight that could benefit the restoration of the islands.

“One of the things I really want people to know is this is just part of the essential work Metroparks Toledo does – restoration,” Carter said.

To help with that essential work, Metroparks Toledo has partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency, FEMA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to ensure all requirements are being met for the project.

“We’re working with tribal nations as well because there is a cultural aspect of the area, so we want to be mindful of their input on this process, too,” Carter noted.

In order to fulfill the plans, a temporary causeway will be created near White Street Park on the Maumee side of the river and extend to the islands. Governmental agencies will monitor the plans to make sure items like the causeway do not cause any unexpected or negative impact to the habitat. After the project is completed, the causeway will be removed.

“Hopefully, final plans will be later this year, and if permitting comes in, they can start construction early next year,” Hicks said.

Based on current plans, Hicks added, construction should last approximately one-year, and those involved with the project will follow up at the end, to make sure everything has gone according to plan.

“Continued maintenance will be by Metroparks. We maintain the islands right now, just like we do a lot of other lands, and we will continue to do so in the future,” Carter said.

Throughout the project, the Metroparks webpage at metroparkstoledo.com/island will be updated with plans and progress.

“The Audubon Islands is a unique feature that’s in the Maumee River system, and we want to preserve that as long as possible. We understand that erosion occurs over time and it still will occur, but we’re hoping to reduce that frequency with which that is happening,” Carter said.

In the plans currently outlined, the project involves several different target zones which will need rocks, logs and other strategically placed materials to prevent further erosion of the island complex. According to Carter, since 1969, the island has eroded by approximately 20 acres, so the plans will help slow that process.

“There’s a lot of grant money being used for good on this project and if you have an idea for this, please get ahold of someone and speak up about it. It might be something no one has really thought about,” Hicks urged. “We want people to be as involved as they can (be).”

Those with comments, suggestions or concerns may direct their input to Scott Carpenter, director of public relations for Metroparks Toledo, at (419) 407-9726 or Scott.Carpenter@Metroparkstoledo.com.

More information is available at metroparkstoledo.com/island and on the Metroparks Toledo Facebook page.

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