September 10, 2018

Critical Bird Habitat on Lake Erie Islands Protected

OTTAWA COUNTY, Ohio — Put-in-Bay Township Park District and The Conservation Fund announced today the conservation of 13.4 acres of critical migratory bird habitat on Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands. The protection of this land, which comprises two parcels on Middle Bass Island, will ensure that its forest and wetland ecosystems remain intact and will provide increased recreation opportunities for island visitors.

“We are happy to announce that adding these 13.4 acres of protected land to the Middle Bass Island Forested Wetland Preserve brings our total protected area here to almost 30 acres,” said Kelly Faris, Chair of the Put-in-Bay Township Park District.

Each spring, millions of birds fly north to nest in the United States and Canada. Western Lake Erie, and particularly the Bass Islands, are important resting and feeding areas for their migratory journey. More than 110 species of bird have been documented on Middle Bass Island, including the black-and-white warbler, Tennessee warbler, threatened yellow warbler and several other warbler species. In addition, the 13.4 acres of preserved land are home to multiple species of snake, including the eastern fox snake and melanistic garter snake, both of which are Species of Concern in Ohio. The Lake Erie Islands also serve as a breeding area for migrating monarch butterflies, a species that’s endured significant population losses in recent decades.

This conservation effort will also help protect the water quality of Lake Erie. The ground underneath the Lake Erie Islands is porous, so any pollution caused by development on these islands can easily reach the surrounding lake through this permeable rock. The newly-protected land also adds to the acreage already under protection as part of the nearby Middle Bass Island State Park.

“We are very excited to be working to preserve these wet forests on Middle Bass for visiting birdwatchers, hikers, and researchers, as well as island residents,” said  Lisa Brohl, Chair at Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, which has worked with the Put-in-Bay Township Park District to conserve land throughout the Lake Erie Islands.

These lands are being conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available as voluntary mitigation for habitat impacts anticipated to arise through construction of Enbridge’s Access South, Adair Southwest, and Lebanon Extension Projects in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Conservation Fund. Additional funds were provided by the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, implemented through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

“Last year Senator Portman and I fought to ensure the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was at full strength so communities could continue their important work of keeping Lake Erie clean, stimulating tourism and the local economy, and preserving critical wildlife habitats like this one in Put-In-Bay,” said Senator Sherrod Brown. “This is exactly the kind of project this program was meant to support.”

“As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I have fought hard to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative because it has proven to be a successful public-private partnership that has helped combat the greatest threats to Lake Erie’s water quality and ecosystem,” said Senator Rob Portman. I am pleased that GLRI funds are being used to protect Lake Erie’s islands, which will help prevent pollution and protect critical habitat for more than 110 species of birds. I will also continue my work with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on the Migratory Birds of the Americas Act, which will promote long-term conservation, research, and habitat protection for more than 350 species of migratory birds, many of which migrate through Ohio and Lake Erie each year.”

“I commend the hard work of the Put-In-Bay Township Park District and The Conservation Fund for its success in protecting this critical migratory bird and wildlife habitat so that everyone can enjoy it,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “This effort was made possible, in part, thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which we fought hard to defend against cuts. Tourism helps drive the economy on Ohio’s North Coast and our Lake Erie Islands are unique gems in this coastal crown. We must continue to be steadfast in protecting and preserving them for future generations.” 

“Enbridge is committed to enhancing the quality of life and environmental protection in the communities where we do business including Ohio and the greater Great Lakes Region,” said  Adam Parker, stakeholder engagement supervisor with Enbridge.

“Our goal is to assist in the protection of lands and waters that have been identified as conservation priorities, valued for their wildlife habitat and other natural resources,” said Peg Kohring, senior associate for conservation services at The Conservation Fund. “The protected acreage will ensure that local wildlife have access to key habitat and local residents have access to beautiful recreation areas. We’re happy to have worked with Put-in-Bay Township Park District and the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy to make this project possible.”

About Put-In-Bay Township Park District 

In 2006, the Common Pleas Court of Ottawa County, Ohio approved a petition to create the Put-in-Bay Township Park District as a local government entity. It was reaffirmed by the voters of the Bass Islands in 2008. Three Commissioners serve to manage and protect unique island habitats for the public to enjoy.

About Lake Erie Islands Conservancy
The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy was founded as part of the Black Swamp Conservancy in 2000, receiving their own non-profit status in 2015. The mission statement of the Conservancy is to encourage conservation and protection of natural and agricultural lands in the Lake Erie Islands for the benefit of this and future generations.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including nearly 65,000 acres in Ohio.

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |
Kelly Faris | Put-in-Bay Township Park District Chair | 419-285-4772 |