As part of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is awarding a total of more than $5 million to 150 new projects that will contribute to improved water quality in the Lake Erie watershed.
The H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program (WQIP) began accepting funding applications in November from farmers and landowners willing to replace cropland with wetlands and riparian buffers which act as filters to reduce nutrient loading into waterways, help reduce flooding, and/or stabilize streambanks to reduce soil erosion.
“The high interest in this new program shows that our agricultural community is taking water quality seriously,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “With their help, we continue to make progress toward healthier water in northwest Ohio.”
The H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program is providing a one-time payment of $2,000 per acre for projects participating in the WQIP program. The program was offered in combination with the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), a USDA conservation program.
“By working with federal, state and local partners, we are empowering area producers and landowners with the tools that they need to apply a focused set of practices on their land,” said John Wilson, Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting State Conservationist. “This complementary program approach will increase the footprint of wetlands on the landscape, accelerating efforts to improve water quality by preventing nutrients from entering Ohio streams and lakes.”
Projects have been accepted in 23 out of the 27 Lake Erie CREP counties. Out of the 150 approved projects, 133 will construct wetlands (2,422.5 acres) and 17 will create riparian buffers (113.5 acres).
A full list of accepted projects is available at h2.Ohio.gov.
“There is so much potential for these projects to help with the overall quality of water in Lake Erie,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “I am thrilled that so many people decided to take advantage of a program that can do so much good for everyone in Ohio.”
The new incentive program is one of several H2Ohio efforts currently underway by ODNR including the Brooks Park Wetland Creation and Water Quality Initiative in Licking County, the Oakwoods Nature Preserve East and Oakwoods Nature Preserve West in Hancock County, 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 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.