PIONEER, Ohio - Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, funding for Gov. DeWine's H2Ohio Initiative continues to be put to work.

What You Need To Know

  • The Ohio Department of Natural Resources partnered with The Black Swamp Conservancy, the enivromental consulting group Enviroscience and RiverReach Construction 

  • An estimated $730,000 is being used to create wetlands along the St. Joseph River in Northwest Ohio

  • The wetlands will absorb pollutants in the water, preventing them from flowing into Lake Erie

Christina Kuchle with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources manages the Scenic Rivers in Northwest Ohio.

"We're really excited to be out here today because we are working to create wetlands for the St. Joseph River here in Williams County. Thanks to funding from Governor DeWine's H2Ohio project. The whole goal of that funding is to restore wetlands in Northwest Ohio to reduce nutrients going to the western Lake Erie basin," Kuchle said.

Rob Krain is the Executive Director of The Black Swamp Conservancy. He explained how the agencies plan to restore the wetlands.
"What we've done is create a shallow depression. And this will act as a vertical wetland as we put vegetation back on the landscape and plant it with trees. What that will do is when the flood waters from the St. Joseph River come over, it will be able to hold that water, spread it out over the landscape and the vegetation will be able to move the pollutants, the nitrogen, the phosphorus before it's able to get into river and ultimately Lake Erie," he said. 
The process requires a lot of dirt, spanning dozens of acres along a 140 acre property.
Broc Benner with the environmental consulting firm Enviroscience oversees construction on the project alongside RiverReach Contruction.
"We use specialized equipment with rakes and excavators that are able to reach down and allow the ground to soften up and have seed beds, so we can have more tree growth," Benner said.

"The water level in the St. Joe's is pretty low right now, here in the fall, but come spring, when we get the snow melt and the spring rains, this river is going to come up and out over these banks into the those fields that we're restoring wetlands on. And those wetlands are going to provide really critical habitat for wildlife species and they're going to help improve water quality," Krain said.

There are 25 other H2Ohio projects in progress as of when this article was written.