Wetlands restored at Oak Openings in effort to protect Lake Erie

Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 4:16 PM EDT
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SWANTON, Ohio (WTVG) - An old farm field near Oak Openings is being transformed into a wetland. It’s all part of a statewide initiative to protect our biggest natural resource: Lake Erie.

Mary Mertz is the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. She tells 13abc that the focus is “using natural infrastructure to clean our water.”

And that’s about to start happening at Oak Openings in Swanton.

“Wetlands, they refer to them as ‘nature’s kidneys.’ When water with nutrients in it is rushing to Lake Erie, it’s taking everything with it,” she explains. “But wetlands force the water to slow down. They filter the water.”

It’s all part of the state’s H2Ohio initiative, which started in 2019. Oak Openings is one spot where wetlands are being restored. And as work is still being done.

“It’s all about clean water,” she says. “Clean water to drink, clean water to recreate in, water to support Ohio’s wildlife and biodiversity. Water is fundamental to life, so we need to do all we can to protect it.”

That effort includes more than 5,000 new trees, native grasses and flowers, and a partnership with Metroparks Toledo.

Scott Carpenter, a spokesman with Metroparks Toledo, explains the importance of wetlands in the parks: “This will be an important buffer between runoff water and the AI Creek, which is a tributary to Swan Creek, and eventually Lake Erie. The Maumee River is the largest watershed in all of the Great Lakes, and so these little feeder streams are really important.”

And you’ll be able to get up close and personal with these wetlands with new trails in the future.

You can learn more about the H2Ohio project here.

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