Ohio creating, fixing hundreds of wetlands

SANDUSKY — Ohio has carried out hundreds of projects to restore or create wetlands in Ohio as part of its H2Ohio clean water program, the head of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says.

Department director Mary Mertz described the wetlands program during a press conference occurring earlier this week to discuss the H2Ohio program.

Wetlands restoration has emerged as a leading initiative in the Gov. Mike DeWine administration, as wetlands act as a natural filter for water flowing into Lake Erie and elsewhere, including removing nutrients blamed for feeding harmful algal blooms.

DeWine won re-election earlier this month to another four-year term, apparently ensuring the program will continue.

During the press conference, Mertz showed a map of 115 wetlands projects that have been started or completed across Ohio, including projects in Erie, Ottawa and Sandusky counties. Many of the projects are concentrated in northwest Ohio as part of the battle against harmful algal blooms.

Mertz said there are 156 smaller wetland projects in Ohio in addition to the 115 larger projects she showed on her map. As more of the projects are completed, they are expected to make a difference in reducing phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie, she said.

For the current 2022-23 fiscal year, the state department received $25 million for wetlands projects, Mertz said.

“We have a sense of urgency about this,” she said.

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