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The Marvelous Manhattan Marsh

October 14, 2021 Projects

It's the last urban remnant of our once dominant wetlands. It's also a promise made, promise kept.

The Manhattan Marsh, a 90-acre gem hidden in the heart of North Toledo, is one of the last pieces of larger wetlands that once dominated our region. Just a few hundred years ago, these natural spaces joined with Lake Erie to provide a robust ecosystem for wildlife, wild plants, and the indigenous people of the area. Our original 'Frogtown.'

But European colonists, the American expansion west, and the Industrial Revolution put it at risk. Today, less than 10% of all native wetlands in Northwest Ohio remain intact. What does remain is susceptible to the ravages of pollution, the creep of invasive species, and the pressures of ongoing development.

Yet over time, we've learned much about how to preserve a natural habitat in the midst of an urban environment. More importantly, we've learned that quiet, clean, and beautiful spaces are exactly what a city needs.

With early interventions by pioneers like Citizens for Buckeye Basin Parks, the land that makes up Manhattan Marsh was primed for permanent assembly and custodianship. When Metroparks Toledo approached the Land Bank and the City of Toledo with its plans, land banking became the perfect tool to protect this treasure once and for all.

"The Metroparks made a promise to the community to open a park within 5 miles of every resident in Lucas County," said Tim Schetter, Chief Natural Resources Officer for Metroparks Toledo. "The Land Bank's work was absolutely critical to this process, because Manhattan Marsh was the park that would finally make that promise real."

Through the hard and tedious work of tax foreclosure, over three dozen individual parcels of land were assembled into one.

"With all of the title issues and delinquent tax problems, assembling this land any other way would have been a monumental process. But with the tools available to the Land Bank and the City, you made it easy," said Schetter.

What makes the Manhattan Marsh Preserve Metropark even more special is its proximity to Chase STEMM Academy, a Toledo Public elementary school. Literally right out the door from the school, many of the amenities of the park were designed with kids in mind. The science-focused curriculum at Chase is a perfect marriage with this natural space, and a living lab is being built at the park for even greater educational opportunities for Chase students.

As for the park itself, there's still work to do to fully restore its natural habitat. Right now, efforts are ongoing to remove the invasive 'tree of heaven' species and replace it with native trees that won't crowd out or poison other natural vegetation. Happily, with responsible control over the site, Metroparks Toledo has all the time it needs to get the work done.

And residents of North Toledo have a new chance to get outside themselves and enjoy all that our area has to offer.

Get outside yourself and go visit