Students Contribute to Water Quality Through H2Ohio

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is teaching the next generation to take care of one of our most precious resources – water.  Students from the Wildlife and Sustainability Career Technical program at the Aerospace and Natural Science Academy of Toledo contributed to one of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio wetlands through the new H2Ohio Students Take Action Program.

“It’s great to see young people get involved in conservation,” Governor DeWine said.  “The action these students are taking now will help improve water quality and keep our state beautiful for years to come.”

Over the past year, in collaboration with Metroparks Toledo and MAD Scientist Associates, ODNR led students from two tenth grade classes on virtual field trips.  They learned about the H2Ohio initiative, specifically the wetland habitat restoration at  Oak Openings Preserve Wetland Restoration.  On Wednesday, they traveled to the site to put their lessons into action.

“It is so important to get the next generation involved in our work,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said.  “Not only did these students learn the importance of wetland projects, but they also found a way to contribute to this mission of improving water quality for all Ohioans!”

In order to “take action”, the group grew native plants to help restore the wetland, increase biodiversity, and ultimately reduce phosphorus runoff into the Maumee River Watershed. Part of today’s field trip was to put those plants in the ground.

“Involving students in a wetland project that will benefit Lake Erie, on the opposite side of Lucas County, helps us spread awareness of the importance of making wise land use decisions throughout the watershed,” Metroparks Toledo Executive Director Dave Zenk said. “Years from now, these young men and women will be able to return to Oak Openings and see how their work made a difference for our environment.”

The existing Toledo Metroparks Oak Openings Preserve will incorporate previously farmed land adjacent to the preserve. Restoration of the property will include regrading and restoring wetland habitat.  Forested wetlands and prairie habitat will also be added along Ai Creek, a tributary in the Maumee Basin.

H2Ohio is Governor 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 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.

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