pond landscape with lilypads

Another Piece of Catawba Island Saved

Nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Erie’s West Harbor, between quickly growing residential areas and commercial developments, lies the West Harbor Preserve—an undeveloped 12-acre parcel featuring farm and floodplain landscapes. With its expansive 1,500 feet of shoreline and three acres of forested riparian buffer, this sanctuary serves as essential habitat, acting as a natural filter to safeguard the lake from run-off originating from adjacent agricultural fields and commercial areas.

pond landscape with lilypads

Historically, this property was a vineyard for the local wine industry, today it is the Park District of Ottawa County’s first public park.

The Park District was created in 1992, with a mission to connect, enhance, and protect the natural, scenic, environmental and cultural resources of Ottawa County. However, just in the past several years, they’ve passed an operating levy and hired staff members for the first time.

Our donation of this land to the Park District in December has established their first property and will facilitate the expansion of access to resources that they can provide to their communities. Over the next several years, they have ambitious plans to begin improvements and restoration of this property, which will include a parking area, a kayak and canoe launch, trails, and open-air picnic shelters.

West Harbor Preserve was a part of a 31-acre acquisition to protect land in perpetuity on Catawba Island. Thanks to funding from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, the purchase of two unique properties was made possible. Of these, the Conservancy will be retaining a 19-acre wooded area that will be managed as a bird and wildlife refuge. The increasing development pressure on Catawba Island and along coastal Lake Erie makes preservation of properties like these essential to protect the delicate ecosystems of Catawba.

West Harbor joins similar projects to this one where Black Swamp Conservancy has acquired important lands, placed conservation easements on them, and then donated the land to local entities to manage for public use. Partnering with organizations including Catawba Island Township, Danbury Township, Sandusky County Park District, and Wood County Park District and Bowling Green City Parks has created beloved parks open to the community to enjoy, while users can be satisfied that the preserves are protected forever.