As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife is collaborating with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on two coastal wetland restoration projects at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area in Sandusky County. Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area lies along Sandusky Bay where Pickerel and Raccoon creeks empty into Lake Erie.
“These two projects are the first in a series of H2Ohio wetland restoration projects planned for Sandusky Bay,” said Governor DeWine. “This work will not only improve water quality and recreational opportunities by reducing algal blooms, but these wetlands are also important habitat for wildlife.”
Plans for Pickerel Creek include restoring 44 acres of wetlands in the interior of the wildlife area by reconnecting the creek with its floodplain, allowing for natural movement of water between the stream and adjacent land during storm events. This floodplain will slow down the flow of water to allow sediments and nutrients to settle which will reduce the quantity of sediments and nutrients that enter Sandusky Bay and improve water quality.
“Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area is an excellent site for wetland restoration H2Ohio projects,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “These wetlands are long-term solutions that will help keep water clean and create beautiful spaces for people to visit in the Sandusky Bay.”
“We are excited to begin construction at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area, launching two projects that will restore wetlands, increase fish and wildlife habitat, and improve water quality in Sandusky Bay,” Natural Infrastructure Director for The Nature Conservancy Alexis Sakas said.
Construction along Pickerel Creek is anticipated to run into late summer, with vegetation being restored this fall. Post-restoration invasive species control will continue through 2025. During construction, the project area will be closed, but access to the rest of the wildlife area will remain.
The Raccoon Creek project will restore shoreline wetlands, promote the establishment of submergent and emergent aquatic vegetation, and improve water quality in the bay. The enhanced wetlands will not only remove excess nutrients before they enter Lake Erie but also provide critical spawning habitat for popular game fish such as northern pike and places for birds to forage and nest. Construction on the Raccoon Creek portion of the project will begin later this spring. Construction will primarily occur from a barge and will not interrupt public access.
“Restored wetlands provide innumerable benefits for both people and wildlife,” said Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker. “These two Pickerel Creek H2Ohio projects will improve water quality, expand public hunting and fishing opportunities, and help threatened and endangered species which rely on wetland habitats.”
Governor Mike DeWine created H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive, data-driven approach to combatting algal blooms, enhancing water quality, and improving water infrastructure over the long term. H2Ohio operates in partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. The initiative focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring and enhancing wetlands, upgrading outdated water infrastructure, and replacing lead pipes. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
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.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. To learn more, visit nature.org.