Summary / Comprehensive Conservation Plan
Located east of Toledo, Ohio, on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie, the
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex provides critical wetland habitats
for a diversity of wildlife, fish and plants. As a major migration corridor, the
area is vital to migratory birds including waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and
songbirds that need rest and food either after crossing Lake Erie on their
way south or before they head back north over the water. As much as 70
percent of the Mississippi flyway’s population of black ducks use Lake Erie
marshes for migration.
The Ottawa Refuge Complex consists of three national wildlife refuges:
Ottawa, Cedar Point and West Sister Island. This Comprehensive Conserva-tion
Plan (CCP) identifies the role each refuge will play in supporting the
mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The plan articulates long-term
management goals and specifies objectives and strategies that will
achieve those goals. The plan also meets the requirements of the National
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act enacted in
1997. The CCP for the Ottawa Refuge Complex is
meant to be a guide for refuge managers, visitors,
nearby community leaders and others interested in
the wildlife resources of Ohio’s coastal marshes. The
CCP will be of value to anyone wishing to chart the
course for action on these three refuges for the next
In accordance with the National Environmental
Policy Act, the Draft CCP included an Environmental
Assessment (EA) that presented four alternatives for
future management of the Ottawa Refuge Complex.
Each alternative was designed to contain a reasonable
mix of fish and wildlife habitat prescriptions and
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities. The environmental conse-quences
of each alternative were described and compared in the EA. The
planning team chose an alternative that called for improving the quality of
services to refuge visitors and shifting habitat emphasis to include more
wooded wetlands, natural marsh and scrub/shrub lands. The EA is included
as Appendix A in this document.
The CCP planning process began in July 1997 with informal discussions
among refuge staff and a 2-day scoping session with local residents and
representatives of groups concerned with the future of the Ottawa Refuge
Complex. Members of the public were invited to attend two local open house
events in November 1997. In addition to the open house events, the planning
team sought input from technical experts, including a group of regional
migratory bird biologists and others. The public was also invited to comment
Photo by Sharon Cummings
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
on a concept newsletter distributed in January 1999 and on the Draft CCP
when it was available in June-July 2000.
Goals, objectives and strategies were developed individually for Ottawa,
Cedar Point and West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuges even though
they share many similar goals. Goals were developed under three major
categories: Wildlife, Habitat and People. The following are the goals for the
Wildlife: Maintain native wildlife populations in balance with the
habitat available while decreasing and limiting exotic
plant and animal species. Surveys based on sound
scientific methods for fish and wildlife populations will
be conducted to determine viable habitat prescriptions
to enhance the attractiveness of the refuge for optimum
numbers of species and peak populations.
Habitat: Restore functional components of the Lake Erie marsh
ecosystem which includes marshes, wooded wetlands,
estuary, and scrub/shrub to provide benefits to endan-gered
species, waterfowl, shorebirds, migratory song-birds,
colonial waterbirds, fish, and other species of
People: Provide public outreach and wildlife-dependent recre-ational
opportunities to a diverse audience by offering a
variety of quality educational and recreational activities
when they are compatible with wildlife needs. This will
promote understanding, appreciation, and support for
the Ottawa Refuge Complex and the entire National
Wildlife Refuge System.
Please refer to the CCP for details on objectives and strategies. In general,
objectives were written to show desired quantity and to be measurable,
especially under the habitat goal. The plan lists more than 60 strategies to
achieve refuge management goals for the Ottawa Refuge alone.
This CCP outlines an ambitious course of action for the future management
of the Ottawa Refuge Complex. The ability to intensively manage water
impoundments, especially to benefit migratory birds, is relatively expensive.
The Service will need to retain supplemental funding in order to implement
many of the objectives in this plan. The highest priority projects include a
Visitor Education Center, habitat restoration on acquired lands and im-proved
access to refuge trails.
The goals outlined in this CCP need the support and partnership of Federal,
state, and local agencies; non-governmental organizations; and individuals.
An ecosystem approach to managing fish and wildlife resources extends
beyond social and political boundaries and requires a broad base of support
and diverse stakeholder strengths and interests. The Ottawa Refuge Com-plex
CCP has been written with the participation of refuge users, conserva-tion
organizations and the local community. Refuge staff and the entire
planning team are grateful to all of the people who have contributed their
time, expertise and ideas to this effort.
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