A recently completed wetland restoration project site near a tributary to Deer Creek on lands owned by Kalida Fish and Game. (photo submitted)
A recently completed wetland restoration project site near a tributary to Deer Creek on lands owned by Kalida Fish and Game. (photo submitted)

GREENSBURG TWP — Scientists studying harmful algal blooms on Lake Erie have suggested this year’s bloom will likely prove smaller than in recent years. Even so, with an eye to the future, efforts to help ease nitrogen, phospate, and nutrient loads emptying into the lake are ongoing. One such, a wetland project on lands owned by Kalida Fish and Game, was recently completed.

“We’ve had a really big push here in Northwestern Ohio to improve water quality for Lake Erie,” Jeff Nordhaus, district technician with the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District, said by way of explaining the why of the project. “We noticed a watershed that’s sitting up off Deer Creek over near Kalida, that sits right next to Kalida Rod and Gun. So we approached the club and said, hey, here’s a neat opportunity.”

The property under consideration, a roughly 2.5 acre field, was used by the organization for youth pheasant hunts and, rarely, as spill-over parking during large events.

“Water would sheet-flow across their property and straight into Deer Creek,” Nordhaus said. “We said, ‘You know, this would be a great opportunity to redirect this water so it didn’t come clear across this property, chocolate brown. We could build a wetland here.’”

And so began the effort to create a wetland, an effort that drew support from six other organizations and businesses in addition to PSWCD and Kalida Fish and Game: Ducks Unlimited, Gerding Ditching, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and Pheasants Forever.

In creating the wetland, a process that began in the summer of 2019 at a cost of roughly $35,000, nearly 6,500 cubic yards of material was exavated. A swale borrow area was devised, creating a dike levee on the south and east sides of the project. To the northwest, the natural lay of the land was utilized to determine its boundary. As a consequence of this effort, runoff from an adjacent 17 acre field will be diverted into the wetland rather than flowing directly into the tributary.

There, the wetland will act like a kidney, allowing sediment to settle and filtering the water before it flows on into the tributary, and from there to Deer Creek, and, ultimately, Lake Erie.

And, while water quality served as the genesis for the project, the benefits of the wetland don’t stop there. In addition to those obvious benefits, Nordhaus described the effort as “a win-win” benefitting wildlife, Kalida Fish and Game members, and, of significant importance, for the county’s youth.

“This project offers an outdoor classroom to many that will visit Kalida Fish and Game,” Nordhaus said. “The 2021 Area 1 Regional Envirothon for our high school students will be held at Kalida Fish and Game, and the wetland will be an integral part of their testing and learning.”