JERUSALEM TOWNSHIP WTOL) - One of Toledo’s newest Metroparks already receiving accolades.

Howard Marsh has been open less than a year, and its wetlands serve as purifiers to runoff water before it reaches Lake Erie.

The water levels can be manipulated to be more attractive to different types of birds.

The former agricultural land was restored to wetlands in an effort to attract birds and birdwatchers, and now it's attracted praise as well.

Every year the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association recognizes one park that has had the most significant impact on quality of life in the preceding year. This year's Governor's Award was given to Toledo.

“This award was especially gratifying because it was the largest project we’ve ever taken in over the 90 year history of the Metroparks," Scott Carpenter, Spokesperson for the Toledo Metroparks said.

Metroparks Toledo attributes the success of Howard Marsh to their partnerships on this project. That includes NOAA, private conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited, and the Ohio Division of Wildlife among others to restore the nearly 1,000 acre property in Lucas County.

Currently, they're still working to expand the park to twice that size. Some of that new land is still being used for agricultural purposes.

“It is a wetland restoration. We’ve lost about 95% of all of our wetlands in the United States, so anytime we get the opportunity to restore one of these sites, it’s critical that we do. Here at Howard Marsh it’s really unique because we’re taking stormwater runoff from the West community and the East community instead of that stormwater being directly discharged out into Lake Erie, it’s now being discharged into the wetland and allowing those wetland processes to take over and to purify that water," Denis Franklin, Natural Resources supervisor for Metroparks Toledo explained.

Wetlands are often referred to as nature's kidneys because they filter out impurities, and help plant growth.

Howard Marsh was built with the ability to filter runoff water from surrounding farms and neighborhoods on its way to nearby Lake Erie. Those wetlands provide a spawning habitat for fish and stopover habitat for a variety of migrant birds, among other environmental benefits.

The growth doesn't stop there, waterfowl hunting is being allowed now in season, a change for Toledo Metroparks.

Also given out this year by the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association is the Jack Hannah award. For the third year in a row, a member of the Metroparks Toledo staff is the recipient.

Since Howard Marsh opened in April 2018, more than 60,000 people have visited the park.