At a Glance

Integrated, landscape-scale interventions will transform Western Sandusky Bay water quality while improving fish and wildlife habitat.

Project Description

The 64-square-mile Sandusky Bay is a unique Great Lakes Bay ecosystem, with one of the largest expanses of coastal wetlands in the Ohio Lake Erie basin. Over the years, however, these wetlands have been impacted by high lake levels, nutrient loadings, and upstream land use changes. In 2019, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources launched the Sandusky Bay Restoration Initiative, a multi-project effort to improve Sandusky Bay’s ecological function and water quality. Biohabitats helped the City of Sandusky, which had received funding from the Initiative, create a Strategic Restoration Plan for the Bay, which identified and prioritized 39 sites where ecological restoration and nature-based solutions had the potential to reduce sediment suspension and excess nutrients and regenerate shoreline resilience and habitat.

With funding from the state’s H2Ohio program, The Nature Conservancy then turned to the Baird-Biohabitats-TetraTech team to initiate the Strategic Plan’s highest-ranking restoration projects in Western Sandusky Bay. These included:

-creation of three 300+-acre barrier wetlands to reduce wave energy and sediment resuspension in Muddy Creek while also enhancing nutrient uptake;
-riparian and wetland restoration along Pickerel Creek, a tributary to the Bay that had become disconnected from its floodplain and was providing little ecological function or service;
-restoration of a formerly diked wetland at Willow Point to improve nutrient processing in the water column and enhance habitat; and
-nature-based shoreline solutions to reduce nearshore energy, erosion, and sediment resuspension while creating emergent and submerged vegetation that add stability, nutrient processing, and habitat along five diked bayfront sites: Racoon Creek, Pickerel Creek East, Pickerel Creek West, Standing Rush Northeast, and Standing Rush Northwest.

Biohabitats led concept development, design, and permitting for the Pickerel Creek Riparian restoration and all of the nature-based shorelines projects. For all project sites, Biohabitats performed ecological assessments, set restoration goals and targets, determined design elevations for wetland formation and adaptation in dynamic conditions, assisted with construction cost estimates, and developed protocols for managing, monitoring, and maintaining the restored sites into the future.



Great Lakes

Physiographic Province

Central Lowland


Sandusky River Watershed, Muddy Creek Watershed, Sandusky Bay Tribitary Watersheds

Expertise Areas

Coastal, Conservation, Ecological Restoration, Water


The Nature Conservancy, 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
  • MAD Scientists Associates
  • Bowling Green State University