FREMONT, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Black Swamp Conservancy cut the ribbon Friday afternoon on a freshly restored 94-acre wetland in Fremont.
The former agricultural farm site is now connected with the Sandusky River as a part of the H2Ohio program to help clean up Ohio's waterways.
In 2015, the Black Swamp Conservancy acquired the land that is Redhorse Bend, a former agricultural farm site that was unused and constantly flooded. It took a few years to find the funding to restore the land, but that's when H2Ohio stepped in around two years ago and from there, it didn't take too long to complete.
"This is going to provide wildlife habitat, it's going to help support cleaner water in Lake Erie, and because we're partnered with the park district, this will eventually be a public park. It's going to be a public recreation site as well," said Rob Krain, executive director of the Black Swamp Conservancy.
It will take a lot more of these projects to see major improvements, but as far as this site, it's already doing its job.
"As soon as this project was built, it was starting to function. It was starting to hold water like we wanted it to, the Sandusky River has already come and flooded this site and utilized it. And that's all stuff we want so right now we can see the function and now we're going to have a research team go and quantify how well that's working," described Christina Kuchle, scenic rivers manager for the ODNR northwest region.
This is also helpful for nearby universities who want to come and do research on the water and soil. There are several small ponds throughout the wetland and researchers can collect water samples to see what kind of nutrients are in them and what forms of nitrogen and phosphorus are there.
"Ultimately, the goal is to get an understanding of how well this wetland is doing at retaining some of that nitrogen and phosphorus over time," explained Laura Johnson, director of the Heidelberg University National Center for Water Quality Research. "This is just one tiny step towards the whole other project that we're going to be doing."
The Black Swamp Conservancy has completed about 10 restoration projects since 2014, and four in the last year supported by H2Ohio.
There are four more projects starting now that will be completed within two years.