The lower Maumee River hosts the largest fish spawning migrations of any Great Lakes tributary. Floodplain wetland habitat is essential for healthy fish communities and for wildlife that depend on wetlands at some point during their life cycle. Floodplain wetland habitat on the lower Maumee River is almost non-existent due to filling, channelization, and shoreline hardening activities completed over the last century, including at the Penn 7 former confined disposal facility (CDF) where dredged materials from the Maumee River shipping channel were placed in the late 1960s – early 1970s.
To explore the opportunity to create wetland and improved fish and wildlife habitat at the Penn 7 CDF located along the Maumee River near its mouth into Lake Erie, the City of Toledo received a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This grant funded site characterization activities and a feasibility study to determine the restoration potential of Penn 7. Working closely with the City and involved agencies, Verdantas helped prepare the successful NOAA grant application and was later contracted with the City to complete the feasibility study. The study resulted in the determination that the historically placed sediment in the CDF were no more impacted than the surrounding Maumee River sediments and that the property was suitable for restoration.
The City subsequently received GLRI funding through the NOAA-Great Lakes Commission Regional Habitat Partnership for final engineering, design, permitting, construction, and public involvement activities. The GLRI program funds were dedicated to this project as part of the Maumee AOC Management Action Project to address the Wildlife Beneficial Use Impairment. The City contracted with Verdantas and Geo. Gradel Co. to complete these activities. The engaged project management team also included Ohio EPA and the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Plans were finalized in summer 2020 and primary construction activities were finished in summer 2021.
To connect the upstream portion of the site with the Maumee River, a water control and fish passage structure was installed within the existing CDF dike. To allow river water to flow to and through the new wetland habitat, sediment was excavated and recontoured in the upstream portion of the site. A channel was excavated to connect the new upstream wetland to the downstream end of the property where an existing embayment is located. To protect/enhance the embayment, a dike with a water control and fish passage structure was installed between it and the Maumee River.
This project created approximately 9.5 acres of submerged and emergent wetlands on the former CDF, 8.5 acres of protected coastal wetlands/open water habitat in the embayment, and 20+ acres of improved upland habitat. This property is expected to be a productive spawning and nursery site for Lake Erie and Maumee River fish and provide quality benthic and wildlife habitat while reducing suspended sediments/nutrient concentrations of river water flowing into the restored habitat. Our work also included significant community and stakeholder outreach activities.
For more information on this project, please view this video: Maumee River Habitat Restoration Project at Penn 7 - YouTube