New H2Ohio Coastal Wetland Project Under Way in Sandusky Bay

Unique project aims to restore water quality and improve wildlife habitat

As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) began construction of a unique barrier wetland in Sandusky Bay. The project site is located just offshore of Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area in Sandusky County.

Sandusky Bay is a protected embayment between the mouth of the Sandusky River and Lake Erie. It is a prominent tributary to Lake Erie and a valuable resource for recreational and commercial activities.

“This is only the beginning of the H2Ohio wetland restoration work planned for Sandusky Bay,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “This barrier wetland highlights our commitment to both habitat preservation and improving water quality for Ohioans and wildlife alike.”

Construction of the nature-based barrier wetland began in April and is anticipated to last through June, with revegetation efforts continuing throughout the summer.

“We have made water quality a priority through H2Ohio, and this wetland restoration is a great addition to the projects that protect our waterways and Lake Erie,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “Building a wetland in the bay will maintain water connectivity with the lake, which is vital to supporting fish spawning and nursery habitat and reducing wave energy that reaches the shore and leads to erosion.”

To visitors, a nature-based barrier wetland will look like islands that are several feet offshore. It prevents shoreline erosion and helps with nutrient reduction, while providing a habitat for wildlife and plants.

“The ODNR Division of Wildlife is proud to collaborate with partners such as The Nature Conservancy to restore valuable wetland habitats,” ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said. “Wetlands are vital to hundreds of wildlife species, so projects such as this one in Sandusky Bay will benefit our natural world.”

This project is the second to break ground as part of a long-term effort to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in Sandusky Bay. The first project was completed in 2023, when 44 acres of wetland were restored to reconnect Pickerel Creek with its floodplain, allowing more natural water exchange between the stream and adjacent land during storms.

“Water quality and aquatic life in Sandusky Bay have been compromised over time due to a variety of factors including agricultural drainage, development, and shoreline hardening. This project may serve as a proof-of-concept in utilizing a nature-based solution to restore vital coastal wetlands and stabilize the shoreline,” said Alexis McCarter, natural infrastructure director for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “Coastal wetlands provide myriad benefits, including nutrient processing to improve water quality, habitat for wildlife, shoreline protection and resiliency in the face of climate change.”

H2Ohio is Governor DeWine’s statewide water quality initiative designed to address complex issues impacting Ohio’s waters. Launched in 2019, H2Ohio uses a comprehensive approach guided by science and data to reduce algal blooms, stop pollution, and improve access to clean drinking water by supporting best farming practices, road salt runoff reduction, litter cleanup, dam removal, land conservation, and water infrastructure revitalization. For more information visit