By GREG MONAHAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — A four-phase, five-year process is underway to restore one of the largest coastal wetlands in Lake Erie. Erie Marsh contains 2,217 acres of wetlands that are home to 65 species of fish and 300 species of migratory birds. That’s according to The Nature Conservancy, the organization tasked with cleaning up the marsh. Only around 5 percent of the wetlands in western Lake Erie remain from the mid-1900s, when pollution and dike construction harmed the quality and flow of the water, according to the director of the operation to restore the marsh in southeast Michigan near the Ohio border. Dikes built more than a half-century ago to control water flowing into the wetlands cut the marsh off from the lake, said Chris May, the conservancy’s restoration director in Michigan.