U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

black duck on water
14000 West State Route 2
Oak Harbor, OH   43449
E-mail: ottawa@fws.gov
Phone Number: 419-898-0014
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The refuge protects important migratory habitat for songbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl such as black ducks.
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This vast area was once coastal wetlands, riverine marshes, wet prairies, hardwood swamps and oak savanna. Only 10 percent of this original wetland habitat remains.

This area was used by Native Americans and trappers but remained mostly unsettled until after the War of 1812. Soldiers from the east who had fought in the war returned after the war was over to farm the rich black soil. Trees were cut to fuel the steam ships on the lake; wetlands were drained to be used for farmland; and the mysterious and wild Great Black Swamp was tamed.

Many areas were still managed as wetlands as part of private hunt clubs along the Lake Erie shore. These clubs used both farming and wetland management to provide areas for hunting in the fall. Much of the property that is now part of the refuge was once hunt clubs, and some of the management practices continue today.

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