At a Glance

Landscape-scale intervention will transform Western Sandusky Bay water quality and improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

Project Description

Sandusky Bay is a unique Great Lakes Bay ecosystem, with one of the largest extents of coastal wetland systems (now mostly bermed) in the Ohio Lake Erie basin. Over the years, Sandusky Bay wetlands and aquatic habitat have been impacted by high lake levels, nutrient loadings, and upstream land use changes. In its natural form, Sandusky Bay was part of the Great Black Swamp, one of the largest coastal wetlands in North America.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) launched the Sandusky Bay Initiative to restore the ecological functionality of the Bay and improve water quality. The Initiative aims to restore coastal wetlands in a way that enhances nutrient uptake, reduces algal blooms, and reduces suspended sediments. The success of this project could lead to further natural recovery of coastal wetlands through improved water clarity and sheltering from waves.

Following completion of the Strategic Plan in 2019 by the City of Sandusky and Biohabitats, The Baird-Biohabitats-Tetra Tech team was selected by The Nature Conservancy – Ohio to develop 100% plans for recommended projects. Projects included 1) design of three (3) Bay shoals (over 300 acres in size) to reduce wave energy in Muddy Creek Bay to aid in reducing sediment resuspension and create wetlands, design of wave attenuation devices (WADs) at the mouth of Muddy Creek Bay to further reduce wave energy and resuspension of sediment, design of 5 separate nature-based shoreline projects (living shorelines) to reduce nearshore energy and shoreline erosion and resuspension of sediments, creation of emergent and submerged aquatic vegetation communities for update and processing of nutrients, and creation of fish and wildlife habitat, restoration of Willow Point to enhance habitat and formation of wetlands, and restoration of the Pickerel Creek Riparian Wetland area within Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area. Other deliverables included preparation of preliminary Management, Operations, Maintenance, and Monitoring Plan, development of a strategic permit plan, development of technical specifications, and completion of Bay physical and water quality conditions prior to and after project construction. Biohabitats was responsible for the design of nature-based shorelines projects, the Willow Point Wildlife Area restoration project, and Pickerel Creek Riparian Wetland Restoration project, setting projects restoration goals, design functions, and restoration targets, determining design elevations for wetland formation and adaptation over a range of long term water levels in Sandusky Bay, and assistance with developing construction cost estimates.



Hudson River


Western Sandusky Bay

Expertise Areas

Coastal, Conservation, Ecological Restoration, Water


State Public Trust Lands, State of Ohio, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Bay projects on Public Trust lands, landside on Division of Wildlife, ODNR lands)


Western Sandusky Bay , Ohio, United States

Project Team
  • Tetra Tech
  • DLZ
  • W.F. Baird & Associates