New Nature Preserve on East Sandusky Bay (OH)

November 14, 2003
Ohio

Sandusky, OH, 11/13/03 - The Trust for Public Land, the Nature Conservancy, the Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation, and Erie MetroParks announced today the acquisition of two critical properties forming a newly created nature preserve along East Sandusky Bay. In two separate real estate transactions, TPL protected 1,029 acres along the Lake Erie shoreline. These properties are the Community Foundation Preserve at Eagle Point and Putnam Marsh, and they are the first two properties to be placed into the ownership and stewardship of Erie MetroParks.

Initial efforts to protect this extraordinary freshwater marsh near Cedar Point Amusement Park began with The Nature Conservancy's acquisition of Putnam Marsh in 1992. The Nature Conservancy identified this site early on as a protection priority because it was one of the last naturally functioning marshes on Lake Erie and critical habitat area for plants and animals. The Community Foundation Preserve at Eagle Point was protected in 2002 when The Trust for Public Land acted to prevent the 73 acres adjacent to Putnam Marsh from being developed. The Trust for Public Land intends to add additional acres to the East Sandusky Bay Nature Preserve by year's end.

The project's success is due to the strong partnerships between the Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Erie MetroParks, local landowners and community leaders, and local state and federal funding sources. The Community Foundation Preserve at Eagle Point recognizes the important financial support and leadership provided by the Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation and partnering private foundations.

Final funding for the preserve came from Federal, State, and private sources including the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) secured $2.5 million in federal funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program to help protect the remaining properties. By making the Putnam Marsh property available for less money than its fair market value, The Nature Conservancy provided critical leverage for attracting these state and federal funds.

"In October, people came together to celebrate in anticipation of this success," said Wolfe Tone, Ohio Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land. "Today, we are thrilled to announce it's accomplishment. The East Sandusky Bay Preserve MetroPark protects wildlife habitat and gives the public access to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the bay." Dr. Richard Shank, TNC's Ohio State Director, shares, "TPL is doing a wonderful job of finishing the job we started 10 years ago. Our original preserve design suggested that these additional areas that have become part of this project should be protected in order to protect the integrity of the overall marsh. This is an excellent project and TPL should be commended for its innovative approach to conservation in this critical ecological area.

"This is an important new preserve that will not only provide our county residents with a world class location for bird watching, but something to draw tourists from around the country," added Kevin Zeiher, Erie MetroParks Commissioner.

The new East Sandusky Bay Preserve MetroPark is one of several key protected natural areas along the Lake Erie Shoreline including the Ottawa International Wildlife Refuge and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. It is the intersection of two primary bird migratory routes, the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, home to a pair of nesting American bald eagles, and an important year-round bird habitat.

Under the management of Erie MetroParks, the area will be available for scheduled recreational, educational, and interpretive programming opportunities such as bird watching and observation of the American Bald Eagle; waterfowl, wildlife, and wildflower identification; and wetland, forest, and meadow ecology.

The Nature Conservancy works globally with a diverse group of partners to protect the lands and waters needed to preserve plant, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth. The Ohio Chapter, founded in 1958, owns and manages 35 preserves totaling more than 18,000 acres throughout Ohio. Visit us at www.nature.org/ohio

The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land has helped protect more than 1.4 million acres across the nation. In 2001, The Trust for Public Land helped protect the nearby 1,300-acre Edison Woods Preserve, which is the largest single conservation project in northern Ohio in decades.

Note to editors: To have a digital photo e-mailed to you, contact Tom Evers at the Trust for Public Land, (651) 917-2240, ext. 322 or tom.evers@tpl.org.