Headquartered along Sandusky Bay in downtown Sandusky, the ODNR Office of Coastal Management is primarily responsible for the administration of two state-federal partnership programs focused on improving Ohio’s Lake Erie coastal resources.
Ohio Coastal Management Program
The Ohio Coastal Management Program was federally approved in 1997 and incorporates 41 management policies that utilize the authorities and programs of a variety of State of Ohio agencies. Three major approaches are used to implement the program, including:
- Financial Assistance to local communities, universities, non-profits, and other partners – primarily through the Coastal Management Assistance Grants (CMAG) program, which provides up to $500,000 in grants each year – as well as targeted funding such as annual support for the Ohio Clean Marinas Program and Ohio Clean Boaters Program.
- Resource Management through regulatory programs such as Shore Structure Permits, Submerged Lands Leases, Coastal Erosion Area Permits, Federal and State Consistency, and Shipwreck Salvage Permits as well as non-regulatory programs including the Ohio Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program and the Sandusky Bay Initiative.
- Technical Assistance and Outreach provided through the Coastal Design Manual, Ohio Coastal Atlas, interactive maps, consultation with property owners, public events such as grants workshops and training programs, and presentations at meetings and conferences.
Old Woman Creek NERR
The Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) is located along the Lake Erie shore in Huron at the Mike DeWine Center for Coastal Wetland Studies, which houses a Visitor Center, classroom space, offices, and laboratories.
The NERR was designated in 1980 and is part of a national network of 29 coastal reserves that address state and regional coastal management needs. Its boundaries are coterminous with those of the Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve, which is managed by the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. Each of the 29 reserves, including Old Woman Creek, is implemented through four common sectors:
- Education is provided to K-12 students, community members, teachers, and many others through a variety of public and group-specific programs. Some of the public programs – listed each year in the Estuary Explorations publication – include hikes, canoeing, a brown bag lunch series, and open houses. Programs emphasize hands-on scientific learning for a range of audiences.
- Research at Old Woman Creek is focused on two major functions that are carried out by all 29 NERR programs. The first is to facilitate and coordinate scientific understanding of estuaries. Researchers from many academic institutions utilize Old Woman Creek to conduct research activities. The second major function is to monitor baseline conditions of the estuarine ecosystem. The monitoring program (known as the System-Wide Monitoring Program, or SWMP) provides long-term data on water quality, weather, biological communities, habitat, and land-use and land-cover characteristics.
- Stewardship activities at Old Woman Creek are carried out through various approaches including coordination with the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, volunteer citizen science initiatives, and collaboration with local entities. Many of the stewardship activities are focused on the identification and management of aquatic invasive species in the estuary.
- Training is offered through the Ohio Coastal Training Program, which provides technical training for professionals to advance coastal management priorities, address local needs, and ensure the effective use of reserve-based science. Topical areas include coastal habitat, water quality, stormwater management, land use, nature-based shorelines, and coastal development.
Both state-federal partnerships are authorized by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and involve close coordination with federal partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.