Great Egret Marsh Preserve consists of more than 150 acres of marsh and surrounding upland in Ottawa County on Catawba Island and across the road from East Harbor State Park.
The preserve’s marshes are part of the West Harbor Basin, a long, narrow pool of Lake Erie backwater that geologists believe was once the channel of the Portage River. As the last wave of glaciation receded and Lake Erie’s water level rose, the river naturally rerouted itself to empty into the lake at Port Clinton instead of nearby East Harbor State Park.
Created in 2013 with help from a Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant, the preserve contributes to the Conservancy’s goal to protect and restore an additional 10,000 acres of coastal habitat along Lake Erie.
Great Egret Marsh Preserve, and the surrounding West Harbor Basin, is a haven for waterfowl and wading birds. One of the preserve’s defining features, great egrets congregate here in abundance. The large, white, wading birds native to this part of Lake Erie can often be found in clusters of 50 or so in the area’s shallow waters.
About half of the preserve is covered in classic Lake Erie marshland, blanketed each summer with water lotus and dotted with muskrat houses.
The preserve eventually will be open to the public for bird-watching, fishing and hiking. A launching area for kayaks and canoes also is planned.