What Wonderful Wetlands You Have, Ohio!

February 2 marks World Wetlands Day and thanks to Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, Ohio has dozens more reasons to celebrate.  As part of the initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is responsible for restoring and creating wetlands in the name of water quality.  In the last few years, ODNR has added more than 80 wetland sites to the Buckeye State.


“World Wetlands Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate and showcase all of the great work that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has been doing over the last few years to create and restore wetlands,” said Governor DeWine. “Safe, clean water is vital to our state, which is why ODNR has made it a top priority through H2Ohio.”

The key message of ‘World Wetlands Day’ is to call for an increased investment of financial, human, and political capital to prevent wetlands from disappearing and to restore those that have degraded. A global theme is adopted for this day each year. The theme for 2022 is ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature,’ a call to take action for wetlands and water quality.

“Every day is wetlands day in Ohio, thanks to Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said.  “Our wetlands not only provide a science-based solution to the water quality issues facing our state, they are also wonderful places to paddle, watc

h wildlife, or explore and enjoy nature.  We have made great progress with these projects, and we have big plans for the months and years ahead.”

Wetlands, also known as “nature’s kidneys” because of their ability to filter impurities and nutrients from the water, are considered an effective and cost-efficient ways to significantly improve water quality. Why wetlands? Find out by watching this video.

How Wetlands Work

  • Wetlands slow the flow of water over land and trap pollutants. They process excess nutrients and stop them from flowing into nearby rivers and streams.
  • The plants and soil in wetlands trap and hold excess nutrients, like phosphorus, before they can flow into waterways and fuel harmful algal blooms.
  •     An acre of wetland can store 1–1.5 million gallons of water.

    Protecting Wildlife

    • Wetlands are considered the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems.

  • 90 species of threatened or endangered species in Ohio live in or depend on wetlands. This includes plants and animals.
  • Animals that thrive in wetlands include birds, fish, snakes, and frogs.

H2Ohio & Education
Wetlands offer students a place to learn outside of the classroom, providing an outdoor space to study everything from science to art. The H2Ohio initiative has several partnerships that introduce young people to the benefits of these long-term, natural features.

  • LEARN – ODNR enlisted the Lake Erie and Aquatic Research Network (LEARN) to partner with ODNR on H2Ohio’s wetland monitoring plan. Students and researchers from half a dozen Ohio universities assess the effectiveness and future role of implemented and planned wetland restoration projects.
    • See the LEARN students in action (Video)


  • H2Ohio Students Take Action – This program provides middle and high school teachers and their students with enriched, real-world learning opportunities, access to wetland sites, career exploration opportunities, and more. Students are urged to “take action” with their ideas and use what they learn to positively impact their watershed. Teachers can sign up for this program here.

You can play an important role in the Great Lakes ecosystem by visiting ohiodnr.gov to learn about ecology, watersheds, natural history, human impacts on the water, and more. If you have ideas about preserving wetlands, we’d love to hear them. Please email your wetland ideas to h2ohio@dnr.ohio.gov.

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, 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.

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Editor’s Note: Photos and video of H2Ohio wetlands found here.