COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) dedicated two new H2Ohio wetlands in northwest Ohio on July 16.
The Fruth Wetland Nature Preserve restoration project in Seneca County and the Redhorse Bend Wetland Restoration in Sandusky County were completed as part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative to help reduce sediment and nutrients going to the Western Lake Erie Basin.
“With each project completion, these wetlands are contributing to a better future for Ohioans,” said DeWine. “We need to do everything we can to protect our waterways to ensure future generations have access to clean water — that’s the ultimate goal of H2Ohio.”
ODNR Director Mary Mertz cut the ribbon to dedicate both sites Friday. She was joined by project partners from Black Swamp Conservancy and the Seneca Parks District.
“These partnerships really are vital to getting the H2Ohio work done and spreading the message of how important it is to protect our waterways,” Director Mertz said. “Their commitment to these wetlands is not only an investment into water quality, but into the people and communities in northwest Ohio.”
The first dedication ceremony was held at the Fruth Wetland Nature Preserve restoration project. In partnership with ODNR, Seneca County Parks broke ground on Fruth Outdoor Center Wetland in June 2020.
“We are excited to have had the first H2Ohio wetland project completed in the State,” Executive Director of the Seneca County Park District Sarah Betts said. “This is a visible project with great potential to educate the local community on the importance of wetland restoration for the health of Lake Erie.”
Work on this 18-acre site included excavation of a grass field and restoring 7-acres of wetland. This site is now better able to store runoff from surrounding agricultural fields before it flows into Wolf Creek and eventually the Sandusky River. The completion also provides a better habitat for wildlife.
Total Cost of this project was $309,000, including an 18-acre property acquisition. The restoration was completed in July 2020. This was the first H2Ohio restoration to be completed statewide.
Black Swamp Conservancy broke ground on the Redhorse Bend project in November 2020. The site is becoming a natural, functioning floodplain with wetlands, meadows, and woodlands that filter nutrient pollution from Sandusky River floodwaters flowing into Sandusky Bay, and ultimately, Lake Erie. The Preserve will also create diverse wildlife habitat and offer Fremont residents and visitors new ways to enjoy nature.
“I really can’t overstate just how meaningful the H2Ohio initiative has been to conservation in the region,” Executive Director of the Black Swamp Conservancy Rob Krain said. “The work being done now has significantly accelerated the pace of on-the-ground stream and wetland restoration work in our community.”
Total cost of the project was $976,000. The Black Swamp Conservancy will be transferring the property to Sandusky County Parks in late 2021 for use as a public nature preserve.
Nearly 60 wetland projects are underway or have been completed as part of the H2Ohio initiative across Ohio including the Sandusky Headwaters Preserve in Crawford County, Brooks Park Wetland Creation and Water Quality Initiative at Buckeye Lake in Fairfield County, the Oakwoods Nature Preserve East and Oakwoods Nature Preserve West in Hancock County, the Forder Bridge Floodplain Reconnection in Paulding County, the Van Order Wetland and Forest Restoration in Henry County, and the wetland area east of the Andreoff Wildlife Area in Wyandot County. More wetland projects will be coming soon thanks to $50 million in funding allocated in the state’s new biennial budget, recently signed by DeWine.
H2Ohio is DeWine’s initiative to ensure safe and clean water in Ohio. It is a comprehensive, data-driven approach to improving water quality over the long term. H2Ohio focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring, and enhancing wetlands, and replacing home septic systems to reduce nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
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