The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) unveiled several wetland projects today aimed at improving water quality in Lake Erie and throughout Ohio as part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative.
“Now is the time to take action to ensure the future of clean, accessible water throughout Ohio,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “Lake Erie is a vital resource, and these projects jumpstart our H2Ohio initiatives to secure its long-term health.”
The wetland projects, planned throughout the Maumee River Watershed and elsewhere, are part of a plan to reduce harmful algal blooms and ensure safe, clean water for all Ohioans.
“The critical importance of clean water cannot be overstated,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Access to a high-quality water supply impacts everything from wildlife habitats to neighborhoods, schools, and main street businesses — which makes clean water the right area to invest.”
Together with partners from the Black Swamp Conservancy, Metroparks Toledo, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority (TLCPA), ODNR will build or restore wetlands in strategic, targeted areas to reduce phosphorus runoff and prevent pollutants from entering the water.
“We are excited to be partnering with ODNR on these important stream and wetland restoration projects, which will improve water quality and expand wildlife habitat in northwest Ohio,” said Rob Krain, executive director of the Black Swamp Conservancy.
“The Nature Conservancy is very pleased by the prominent role wetlands will play in the Governor’s plan to address Ohio’s water quality challenges over the long-term,” said Bill Stanley, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “Investing in the protection and restoration of our wetlands and floodplains is one of the best investments we can make. By restoring wetlands at strategic sites in northwest Ohio, where we’ve lost more than 90 percent of our historic wetlands, The Nature Conservancy and other conservation organizations will not only help to ensure clean water but also support an important outdoor recreation economy. Today, with Director Mertz’s announcement, we see a state that values all that our natural areas provide.”
“These projects are a good example of a public/public partnership that allows us to pursue the improvement of our waterfront and our water quality,” said Thomas J. Winston, president and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “The Port Authority has collaborated with ODNR for more than a decade on the beneficial use of dredged material and we have made good progress; we are confident we will also be successful in our partnership through the H2Ohio Initiative as well.”
“Metroparks Toledo is excited to work with Director Mertz and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to help implement the much-needed H2Ohio program,” said Metroparks Toledo Executive Director Dave Zenk. “Restoring high-quality wetlands throughout Lake Erie’s western basin is the single most important tool we have to address Lake Erie’s ongoing water crisis and ensure that future generations of Ohioans can enjoy fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters.”
Out of the 23 total H2Ohio wetland projects in progress, ODNR Director Mertz announced details for six projects on Thursday. More details are provided in the attachment. The announced projects included:
- Oak Openings Preserve coordinated by Metroparks Toledo on the Maumee River watershed in Lucas County;
- Sandusky Redhorse Bend coordinated by the Black Swamp Conservancy on the Sandusky River watershed in Sandusky County;
- Maumee Bay State Park Wetland coordinated by ODNR, TNC, TLCPA, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Ohio EPA on Lake Erie in Lucas County;
- Grassy Island and Cullen Park Wetland Restoration Projects coordinated by TLCPA and the City of Toledo on the Maumee River watershed in Lucas County; and
- Forder Bridge coordinated by the Black Swamp Conservancy on the Maumee River watershed in Paulding County.
Wetland vegetation and soils absorb and hold on to phosphorus and pollutants, slow down the movement of water, offer a natural filtering process, and prevent the further movement of contaminated matter.
For more information on the overall H2Ohio water quality plan, visit h2.ohio.gov.