EDON, Ohio – As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) officially dedicated the St. Joseph River Floodplain Restoration and St. Joseph Confluence Reconnection projects in Williams County. The projects were completed in partnership with Black Swamp Conservancy and EnviroScience.
“The progress made in Williams County is just the beginning of what H2Ohio will do for Ohio,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “We are committed to improving water quality, and these projects are important steps toward achieving that goal.”
The St. Joseph Confluence Reconnection project broke ground in September 2020. Dikes were removed and native vegetation was planted on the property to capture nutrient laden floodwaters from the St. Joseph River and its tributaries. Across this 140 acre property, 11 acres were reforested to absorb rainfall, 370 linear feet of stream was restored, and 31 acres of wetland were reconstructed.
This wetland has significant benefits to wildlife as well. One species benefitting from this construction is the federally threatened copperbelly water snake. The reptiles, found in parts of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, need shallow wetlands along the edges of larger wetlands complexes where they can hunt for frogs. They have been threatened since 1996.
The cost of this project was approximately $730,000.
“Our wetlands serve so many purposes that people may not realize,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “This project, not only keeps nutrients from flowing into the river, it helps to provide a safe and stable habitat for native species.”
The St. Joseph River Floodplain Restoration broke ground on January 13, 2021, and took place across a 94-acre property. Thirty-four acres of agricultural land were converted back to wetlands. Water draining from about 300 acres of nearby farmland will move through the wetlands where nutrients will be removed before they enter the river. To improve aquatic habitat and enhance nutrient processing, over 1,000 linear feet of streams have also been restored. Black Swamp Conservancy will manage and own the restored wetland, and 14 acres will remain active farmland as part of the Black Swamp’s Food & Farm initiative.
The St. Joseph River Floodplain Restoration cost just over $1.5 million.
These projects are just two of the dozens of other H2Ohio wetland projects underway right now including the 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, Redhorse Bend Preserve in Sandusky County, the Forder Bridge Project in Paulding County, the Fruth Wetland Nature Preserve in Seneca 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.