14000 West State Route 2,
Oak Harbor OH
Carroll Township (Ottawa County)
Jerusalem Township (Lucas County)
N 41° 36.14’
W 083° 12.18’
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Association
|Consistently ranked a top 10 birding spot in North America, the 4,755-acre Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) is located between Metzger Marsh (to the northwest) and Magee Marsh (to the east) state wildlife areas. Combined, the three sites include some of Ohio’s finest remaining coastal wetlands – remnants of the Great Black Swamp.
ONWR’s entrance road off State Route 2 in Ottawa County winds past rows of solar panels to the Visitor Center parking lot. There are 10 miles of hiking trails accessible at the refuge, including a partnership trail that connects to Magee Marsh. Some trails are open to vehicles on scheduled days (see the online calendar); however, direct shore access is limited to guided hikes and scheduled events (see ONWR’s online calendar). As of March 2012 a trail along the beach is planned.
Since opening in 1961, ONWR’s focus has been to protect, enhance and restore wetland habitat for threatened and endangered species; provide nesting, spring and fall habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds; and provide habitat for native flora and fauna. This is accomplished in part by a series of dikes constructed for water level control.
Crane Creek runs through the refuge; the estuary provides habitat for many species of fish and feeding areas for many birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons. In 2000 the ONWR was declared an Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy, and in 2007 the same distinction was made by the Ohio Audubon Society. In 2001 Lake Erie 's Western Basin Marsh Complex, which includes all lands that comprise the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, were designated a Regional Shorebird Reserve in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
In addition to the education programs and tours, controlled hunts are held for both white-tailed deer and waterfowl. Except when access is limited for hunting purposes, ONWR’s grounds are open daily, year-round, from dawn to dusk. Visitor center hours vary. The refuge entrance is located 15 miles east of Toledo/Oregon and 16 miles west of Port Clinton on State Route 2.
The main, land area of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) is part of a larger, federally owned wetland system along Lake Erie’s southwest shore. ONWR also includes the Navarre Division, a marsh unit about five miles east of the refuge surrounding the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, and the Darby Division located adjacent to the east of the mouth of LaCarpe Creek, on the western edge of Port Clinton. Access to both divisions is by permit only. Staff at the ONWR also manage the Cedar Point and West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuges.
The 2,445-acre Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge is 11 miles northwest of OWNR, adjacent to the east of the Mallard Club Marsh State Wildlife Area, a coastal public access site in Lucas County. The Cedar Point NWR was donated to the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1964 by the owners of the Cedar Point Shooting Club. The refuge consists of a marsh, divided into three pools - the largest pool, almost 2,000 acres, is the largest contiguous marsh of Ohio's coastal marshes. Most of the refuge is closed to the public, including the areas affording access to Lake Erie; however, a fishing area is open from June - August. Learn more: www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=31541
The 87-acre West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge is located nine miles offshore of ONWR in the Lake Erie’s Western Basin. In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established West Sister Island "as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife...," and it was specifically designated to protect the largest wading bird nesting colony on the U.S. Great Lakes. Today, it is jointly owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and managed as Ohio's only Wilderness Area. To protect this vital nesting area, public access is restricted to permitted research only. Learn more: www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=31542
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