Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station and Navarre Marsh exist in a symbiotic relationship–the marsh protects Davis Besse and Davis Besse protects the marsh. Davis Besse owns the marsh and operates it in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Navarre Marsh was originally a 524 acre private hunt club acquired by the USFWS in 1966. Toledo Edison exchanged a marsh they owned known as Darby Marsh for Navarre Marsh to build their nuclear power station. Toledo Edison then leased the marsh back to the USFWS.
Navarre Marsh contains some of the best, least disturbed examples of a marsh habitat in Northwest Ohio. A small remnant of the Great Black Swamp, its protected status has allowed it to become a refuge for native plants, animals and biological communities that were once very common in the surrounding landscape before settlement.
Situated along Lake Erie, Navarre Marsh is a diked system. The dikes and pumps maintain adequate water levels to manage vegetation and species composition, promoting plant succession to meet the seasonal wildlife’s food and habitat needs. Without these dikes, Lake Erie would easily break through the barrier beach and change the characteristics of the marsh. When a tornado ripped through the area in 1998, the dikes were quickly repaired due to their proximity to the Davis Besse property.
Navarre Marsh protects many habitats that were abundant before the region was converted to agricultural and urban lands, including a beach, 15 different classifications of wetlands, a ridged community, and a deciduous forest that provides shelter and fuel for migrating birds. The variety of prey insects available at Navarre Marsh provides a chance for the migrating birds to refuel before crossing Lake Erie.
Navarre Marsh is well-known for its bird banding activity. The Black Swamp Bird Observatory, an independent, non-profit organization has been collecting daily bird data during spring and fall migrations for over 20 years. Due to their efforts, they provide the most-up-to-date data for this area. Over 325 species of birds have been recorded at Navarre Marsh, including waterfowl, neotropical migrant song birds, raptors, bald eagles, shorebirds and colonial-nesting birds.
In addition to birds, over 35 mammal species and 800 plant species can be found at Navarre Marsh.
Navarre Marsh is closed to visitors, however visits can be arranged. Due to the security concerns at Davis Besse, all personnel who visit the marsh must be cleared.