The projects create sweeping approach to improve water quality.
WOOSTER, Ohio — As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) celebrated the completion of the new East Funk Bottoms and Muddy Fork wetland projects and the beginning of the new West Funk Bottoms project on Tuesday.
“Wetlands are incredibly important to water quality, and it’s great to see that these two projects are now complete,” Gov. DeWine said. “The H2Ohio initiative has grown exponentially over the last four years, and we are proud to continue spreading this science-based approach to water quality throughout Ohio.”
The East Funk Bottoms Project has been transformed into wetlands to help reduce erosion and filter sediment and runoff from a heavy agricultural use area. It is adjacent to the Muddy Fork project. Both projects will help filter nutrients during heavy rain events and limit the amount of nutrient flow into the Kiser ditch which ultimately feeds into the Ohio River. They are both within the Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area, a popular place for hunting and birding.
“Every day we’re working to improve water quality by harnessing the power of wetlands,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “These projects not only do that but offer amazing recreational and educational benefits.”
The East Funk Bottoms Project was completed in partnership with The Wilderness Center and the Wayne County Community Foundation. The Wilderness Center purchased the project site and restored the wetland area that sits within the floodplain of the Mohican River. The project will capture drainage from nearby farm fields while holding and treating water through the addition of multiple shallow vernal pools. The site will be seeded with native warm season grasses and trees to further aid in sediment erosion and nutrient reduction.
The Muddy Fork project was also in partnership with the Wayne County Community Foundation as well as the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. The 135 acre project will reduce the amount of nutrient runoff into the Muddy Fork River. A shallow wetland was also constructed to capture any additional runoff.
“We are proud to partner with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife on the acquisition of additional acreage adjacent to Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area,” Western Reserve Land Conservancy Southeast Field Director Jacob Pries said. “These new publicly accessible acres will serve as a place where generations of outdoorsman and women can create memories that will last a lifetime. These memories, in turn, create the next conservationists. We are grateful to be a part of such a special partnership and project with ODNR."
A groundbreaking ceremony was then held nearby for the West Funk Bottoms Project. This project, which lies in the middle of 2,000 acres that comprises Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area, also floods frequently. The project will restore native wildlife-friendly vegetation in the agricultural field to help reduce soil erosion and buffer the water flow into the Muddy Fork.
“We’re delighted to be celebrating this unique partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, its Division of Wildlife, and H2Ohio to acquire and preserve the land,” West Creek Conservancy Executive Director Derek Schafer said. “It’s a prime example of our goal to protect, restore, and connect.”
Governor Mike DeWine created H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive, data-driven approach to combatting algal blooms, enhancing water quality, and improving water infrastructure over the long term. H2Ohio operates in partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. The initiative focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring, and enhancing wetlands, upgrading outdated water infrastructure, and replacing lead pipes. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, 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.