Habitat Restoration in Great Lakes Areas of Concern: Maumee River

NOAA-GLC Regional Habitat Restoration Partnership

About Maumee River Habitat Restoration

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. The engineering & design and implementation phases of a full-site restoration at the Penn 7 project site was recently completed. Current projects include the a stream restoration feasibility study at the Collins Park Golf Course site, and engineering & design and implementation of a stream and wetland restoration at the Ottawa River at Jermain Park.

More about Maumee River Restoration

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.

The restoration of the Ottawa River in Jermain Park project is a new project funded by the 2019 NOAA-GLC Partnership. This project includes engineering & design and full implementation which will enhance 2.7 acres of wetland with diverse plantings, stabilize 2,300 feet of eroding streambank, and enhance 750 feet of riparian buffer. The specific BUIs being addressed by this project include BUI 3a-Degradation of Fish Populations, BUI 6-Degradation of Benthos, and BUI 14a-Loss of fish habitat.             

A second new project beginning fall 2021 is the Collins Park Stream Restoration Feasibility Study. This project will evaluate and plan for the restoration of a degraded watercourse and wetland habitat areas on a portion of Duck Creek within the boundaries of a municipal golf course in the City of Toledo. The information produced will inform final plans, bid documents, and implementation directed at reducing downstream sedimentation and sludge, improving biodiversity of native species, introducing nursery habitat, cover, and forage for fish, amphibians, reptiles, waterfowl, and macroinvertebrates. Eventual implementation of this project will address objectives laid out by the Maumee AOC Program to achieve Ohio’s beneficial use restoration targets and provide connectivity between other AOC habitat improvement projects.  

Benefits of Restoration

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


The fact sheets and documents listed below provide additional information about the Maumee River projects.

Documents and Fact Sheets

The following fact sheets and documents provide additional information about the Maumee River project and specific elements of the project.

Penn 7 Fact Sheet
BUI Background
Penn 7 Overall Site Plans

Collins Park Fact Sheet

Jermain Park Fact Sheet


News Coverage


Approximately $3.8 million has been awarded to these projects 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
Commissioner, City of Toledo Division of Parks, Recreation and Forestry
[email protected]

LaShawna Weeks
Senior Environmental Specialist, City of Toledo
Office: (419) 936-3777
[email protected]

Edith Kippenhan
Stormwater Coordinator, City of Toledo Division of Environmental Services
[email protected]

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