Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge–Fox Unit

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Ottawa County

Ottawa NWR–Fox Unit
Coordinates: 41.6019464, -83.2071491
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Photo by Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife
Please, be safe. It is never safe to stop your car on OH-2 in this area. State and local police ticket drivers pulled over to the side of this highway.

Tips for birding Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is a stop on the Lake Erie Birding Trail.

About Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Fox Unit
The 40-acre Fox Unit is located directly across OH-2 from the Ottawa National Wildlife (ONWR) Refuge Visitor Center. The property includes an 8-acre woodlot. You will see crops growing until funds are secured for restoration. Restoration plans will include restoring wet prairie and shrub habitat which should be excellent for birds and wildlife. The property was sold to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in April 2020, and the proceeds from the sale will be used for future land purchases in a revolving fund managed by the Friends. The long-term plan is to open the property for public recreation. The Friends of ONWR will be looking for future support to help the Refuge open the Fox property and create a parking area and hiking trail.

Charles Fox, Jr. owned the farm for many years, allowing tenants to rent the house and fields. He came from a long line of tool and die makers and was the first of his family to attend college. As a teenager he was involved in church, attending Luther League youth group and being inspired by his pastor to pursue a career in the ministry. During those years in Toledo he met Barbara McLain at Schmucker’s Diner, a favorite hangout of the local teens. Both Barbara and Charles attended Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where Charles went on to attend seminary, earning a Bachelor of Divinity with Honors. They married in 1953, and eventually moved to Farmington, Michigan, in 1960 when Charles was called as Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church. They had three children and Charles served as the beloved pastor of that congregation for 33 years. He held on to the farm, and his family now feels that it was for a special purpose.

When Charles passed away in 2016, his family wondered what they should do with the farm. Acreage owned by other family members had formed Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Barbara and their children worked with Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to sell the farm, allowing us to facilitate adding acreage to the refuge for the first time. They feel good knowing that the land will be conserved for generations to come.
From Fox Unit (Friends of Ottawa NWR) webpage

About Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge spans two counties. The northern part of the refuge is in Lucas County and the southern part is in Ottawa County.

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge provides valuable habitat for a diversity of waterfowl and other migratory birds, resident wildlife, and endangered and threatened species. It provides a place for people to enjoy wildlife-dependent activities and learn about the complexities of the natural world through education and interpretive programming.

Ottawa Refuge is located in northwest Ohio. The entrance is located 15 miles east of Toledo, Ohio or 16 miles west of Port Clinton, Ohio on OH-2. The entrance road is located on the north side of OH-2.

Visitors should stop at the visitor center which opened in 2007. This beautiful lodge style building welcomes you and tells the refuge story. The building is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

There are ten miles of hiking trails. These trails travel through a variety of habitats and start behind the visitor center or from the trailhead parking lot.

The refuge auto tour is open on scheduled days from 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The auto tour travels through areas of the refuge not otherwise open to the general public. See the calendar of events for open dates.
From Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge webpage

Restrooms at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge are available at the Visitor Center (flush toilets) and at the parking lot for trails (non-flush toilets).