COLUMBUS, Ohio – As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) began construction on two wetland projects in Hancock County.
“To cut down on the amount of algal-bloom-causing phosphorus making its way into Lake Erie, we must be aggressive in reducing this runoff in a variety of ways,” said Governor DeWine. “Wetlands naturally filter out the contaminants that we need to eliminate in order to improve water quality.”
ODNR is partnering with the Hancock Park District to create the Oakwoods Nature Preserve East and Oakwoods Nature Preserve West. Combined, both preserves will cover a continuous 142 acres.
“The Oakwoods Nature Preserve projects offer so many benefits,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “On these sites we are able to restore natural habitat, improve water quality in a high-priority watershed, and offer a beautiful outdoor space for the community.”
The first project at Oakwoods Nature Preserve East sits in an agricultural field that will be converted into a wetland to restore natural water flow. The wetland will filter excess nutrient and sediment from nearby farmland before water flows into a ditch which then empties into Aurand Run, a stream in Hancock County. A small portion of this property will be planted as a native prairie for people to observe and enjoy.
The second project at Oakwoods Nature Preserve West will take farmland out of production to create and restore wetlands, woodland, and prairie. The project will reconnect Aurand Run to frequently flooded land to allow for extra filtering of nutrient-rich water. This project will also enhance wooded habitat along the stream and protect nearby forested land.
“Restoring wetlands and planting native prairie and hardwood trees to expand Oakwoods Nature Preserve has been envisioned for over a decade,” Hancock Park District Director Gary Pruitt said. “The H2Ohio initiative has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for improving water quality, providing quality habitat, and enhancing quality of life with natural beauty, wildlife, and passive outdoor recreation activities.”
Once complete, the projects are expected to cost $1.4 million.
This project joins dozens of other H2Ohio wetland projects underway right now including the Redhorse Bend Preserve in Sandusky County, the Forder Bridge Project in Paulding County, the Fruth Wetland Nature Preserve in Seneca County, the St. Joseph Confluence Reconnection and the St. Joseph River Floodplain Restoration in Williams County, the Van Order Wetland and Forest Restoration in Henry County, the wetland area east of the Andreoff Wildlife Area in Wyandot County, and Sandusky Headwaters Preserve in Crawford County.
H2Ohio is Governor Mike 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.