WILLIAMS COUNTY, Ohio – As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is forging ahead with the Saint Joseph River Floodplain Reconnection Project in Williams County. In partnership with Black Swamp Conservancy and EnviroScience, the project broke ground on January 13, 2021.
“The launch of this new project shows a strong start for H2Ohio in 2021,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “The acquisition and restoration of these wetlands will contribute to our goals of improving water quality in the Maumee River Watershed and preventing algal blooms in Lake Erie.”
The St. Joseph River Floodplain Restoration entails the acquisition and restoration of 94 acres of property. Black Swamp Conservancy will manage and own the wetland restoration and working farm site. The completed restoration will convert 34 acres of agricultural land back to wetlands in the floodplain of the St. Joseph River.
The water that has drained from nearby farmland will move through the floodplain wetlands where nutrients are removed before they enter the river. In an effort to improve aquatic habitat and enhance nutrient processing, 1,600 linear feet of streams will also be restored.
“This project is just the first step in big plans we have for the H2Ohio initiative in the coming year,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “With strong partnerships, like we have on the St. Joseph project, we will be able to accomplish even more moving forward.”
This project is unique in that 14 acres of land will remain active farmland as part of the Black Swamp’s Food & Farm initiative.
“We are proud to be able to combine two of our efforts with this project in Williams County,” said Rob Krain, Executive Director for Black Swamp Conservancy. “Wetland projects allow us to assist in protecting waterways and ecosystems, while our Food to Farm initiative helps connects Ohioans with locally grown food.”
Once complete, the St. Joseph River Floodplain Restoration is expected to cost just over $1.5 million.
This project joins dozens of other H2Ohio wetland projects underway right now including the Redhorse Bend Preserve in Sandusky County, the Forder Bridge Project in Paulding County, the Fruth Wetland Nature Preserve in Seneca County, the St. Joseph Confluence Reconnection in Williams 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.
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.