Habitat Restoration in Great Lakes Areas of Concern: Maumee River

NOAA-GLC Regional Habitat Restoration Partnership

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are leading efforts to restore several critical Great Lakes Areas of Concerns (AOCs)— the worst “toxic hotspots” in the region. In 1987, the Maumee was designated an AOC due to environmental degradation and pollution. Funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was distributed by the Environmental Protection Agency to a Regional Partnership between NOAA and GLC and was allocated toward the restoration of the Maumee River.

Environmental Benefits:

  • Create 8.5 acres of emergent coastal wetland and 6.7 acres of submerged coastal wetland
  • Improve roughly 59 acres of habitat including adjacent upland areas
  • Control invasive plant species and plant natural vegetation
  • Install water control and fish habitat connectivity structures
  • Enhance fish and wildlife habitat
  • Restore Fish habitat connectivity with Maumee River

Community Benefits:

  • Creation of a downtown nature space
  • Improve water quality and ecosystem health

Economic Benefits:

  • Regional benefits to eco-tourism, birding, and fishing

Maumee River Habitat Restoration Project

Photo of Penn 7 restoration site (Photo by City of Toledo)

Located in northwest Ohio, the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC) is comprised of 787 square miles that includes the lower 23 miles of the Maumee River downstream to Maumee Bay, as well as other waterways within Lucas, Ottawa and Wood counties that drain to Lake Erie, such as Swan Creek, Ottawa River (Ten Mile Creek), Grassy Creek, Duck Creek, Otter Creek, Cedar Creek, Crane Creek, Turtle Creek, Packer Creek, and the Toussaint River.  In 1987, the Maumee AOC was designated under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Since then the Maumee AOC has been on a continual journey of evolution. The Maumee AOC program has evolved through many phases and with that evolution comes many changes; in structure, in process, in name, and in the terminology used.  

The Maumee AOC Advisory Committee (MAAC) is currently a stand-alone committee that is still the heart of the process. The Maumee AOC is still a collaborative, locally based group of dedicated people working through the state and federal AOC program to restore fishable and swimmable waters. This local AOC committee continues to liaison with Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA, while both agencies work closely with the Canadian counterparts through the Great Lakes Water Quality Protocol of 2012 to address key environmental health issues that are severely impacted in areas of concern around the Great Lakes. The Maumee AOC has 9 of the 14 Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) remaining. One BUI was removed in 2015. 

In 2015, the City of Toledo implemented a $175,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant awarded by NOAA to assess the feasibility of restoration work on a former Confined Disposal Facility (Penn 7) on the northern shoreline of the Maumee River. The 2016 NOAA-GLC Partnership funded the engineering and design phase of this restoration project. A new 2019 NOAA-GLC Partnership is providing additional funding for the implementation phase which will create ideal fish nursery habitat as well as emergent and submergent wetlands used by a variety of wildlife species. Final implementation will address the AOC’s BUI 14: Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat and BUI 3: Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations. Restoration activities will result in the creation of 8.5 acres of emergent coastal wetland and 6.7 acres of submerged coastal wetland.


Over $2 million has been awarded to this project by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Great Lakes Commission Regional Partnership. The  GLRI is a federal program designed to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world — the Great Lakes.

For More Information

Eric Ellis
Coastal Conservation and Habitat Restoration
Project Manager
Great Lakes Commission
[email protected]

Karen Ranney Wolkins
City of Toledo Division of Parks, Recreation and Forestry
[email protected]

Jenny Carter-Cornell, APR
Funding Practice Leader
Hull & Associates
[email protected]

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