Location & Description
This 558-acre wildlife area adjoins 182 acres of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge creating a 740-acre wetland adjacent to Lake Erie. Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area is located 20 miles east of Toledo just off State Route 2. Water levels are controlled to provide diversity for wetland plants and wildlife including fish.
History & Purpose
Metzger Marsh is a remnant of the 300,000-acre marsh which once bordered most of western Lake Erie from Vermilion, Ohio to Gibraltar, Michigan. Early settlers to the area constructed a retaining dike and several internal drainage canals that led to a steam driven water-lift elevator to create Metzger Farms. A highly productive vegetable farm continued through the early 1920s until high water in 1929 decimated the dike. The dike was not rebuilt, and continued flooding allowed the area to quickly revert to marsh. Around this time, many remaining marshes became duck hunting clubs for city-dwellers from Detroit and Cleveland. Metzger Marsh Duck Club operated throughout the 30s and 40s as a profitable club until waters continued to rise eroding the barrier beach. By 1952, the wetland vegetation disappeared, and Metzger Marsh resembled an open-water cove of Lake Erie. The hunting declined and the property was purchased by the Division of Wildlife in 1955. The outer dike was restored in 1995 to control water levels allowing the area to revert to marsh once again. This project was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, local conservation groups, and the Division of Wildlife. Today, Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area is managed cooperatively with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service as a high-quality wetland that attracts thousands of migrating waterfowl, songbirds, and shorebirds annually.
Fishing, waterfowl hunting, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and trapping are popular activities at Metzger Marsh. A boat ramp and channel provide access to Lake Erie for recreational boaters and anglers. At the end of the access road is a fishing pier extending into Lake Erie that provides shore fisherman an opportunity to catch yellow perch, channel catfish, freshwater drum, and white bass. Many anglers also walk down the lakefront dike to catch largemouth bass and northern pike around the water control structure. Primitive boat ramps along the entrance road provide access to the marsh for anglers or kayakers in the summer and waterfowl hunters in the fall. The parking lot is a prime location for ice fisherman to access Lake Erie. A small woodlot adjacent to the parking lot is visited by birders in April and May to view migrating warblers and other songbirds.