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Land conservation at Lake Erie Islands supports
water quality and migratory bird habitat

Aerial view of Middle Bass Island and Lake Erie. Photo courtesy of Ivan LaBianca

Aerial view of Middle Bass Island and Lake Erie. Photo courtesy of Ivan LaBianca.

News release issued by The Conservation Fund

In late July, Put-in-Bay Township Park District and The Conservation Fund announced the conservation of 4.4 acres of critical migratory bird habitat on Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands. The protection of this land, which is part of a larger conservation effort on the islands, will ensure that some of the remaining forest and wetland ecosystems will remain intact and increase recreation opportunities for visitors.

A popular recreational destination, the Lake Erie Islands and shores gather nearly 11 million visitors a year. The addition of protected land for the Put-in-Bay Township Park District will increase public access to the various ecosystems the Islands have to offer. The newly protected land joins 13 adjacent acres and 44 nearby acres already protected by the park district.

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.

It is also important to keep these lands protected for the large and diverse flocks of migratory birds that use the islands during their spring migration. 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 bird species have been documented on Middle Bass Island, including the black-and-white warbler, Tennessee warbler, and several other warbler species.

In addition, the 4.4 acres of preserved land are home to multiple species of amphibians and snakes, 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.

These lands are being conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available by TC Energy and its subsidiary Columbia Gas LLC in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ohio and The Conservation Fund. Additional funds were provided by 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. The Congressionally authorized GLRI was created to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. GLRI is funded annually by the U.S. Congress with strong leadership and support from Ohio’s U.S. Congressional delegation representing the Lake Erie Islands: U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur.

“Protecting Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands is critical for maintaining our local ecosystems,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. “Securing this land increases migratory bird habitats and will ensure the Lake Erie Islands and coastline remain a premier destination for birders and outdoor recreation for generations to come.”

“I am pleased to see efforts to protect and improve wetlands and forests in and around Lake Erie that serve as habitat for many fish and wildlife populations,” said U.S. Senator Rob Portman. “By protecting these ecosystems, we are also boosting tourism and the economy in the region. I will continue my efforts as co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force to provide federal resources to continue efforts to protect Lake Erie’s wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems, such as my GLRI Act and my Migratory Birds of the Americas Act, which was signed into law in March.”

Last updated: June 8, 2020