What was once a small eight-acre hayfield is a newly restored wetland tucked away in Forrest Woods in Paulding County. It is quietly holding and filtering water, naturally converting excess fertilizer into native plants, and making a home for frogs, toads, newts, and birds. The parcel is an important restoration project because of its location adjacent to the Maumee River with water wandering through a floodplain of the Marie DeLarme creek. The area is a rare remnant of the Great Black Swamp which once covered much of northwest Ohio with forested wetlands and marsh.
Work on the plot was completed in the spring of 2023 and Conservancy staff are pleased to see it working the way it was planned to, like it did when the Swamp was broad and dense. Melanie Coulter, Black Swamp Conservancy’s conservation manager, visited the area recently. “I watched surface water coming from the creek into the floodplain. And, just like we planned, the rainwater spread out and ran down a grassy hill, filling the pools that we designed.” The grass slows the water flow which prevents erosion. The pools hold water on the land where it slowly percolates into the soil. Frogs and amphibians love the temporary pools which are isolated from egg-eating predators and make excellent spring mating spots. One of the pools kept a little water all through the dry part of the summer, showing that the water table is high, perfect for the wet meadow that has been planted.
During the earth-moving part of the project, workers found a few drainage tiles that no one knew were there. When the area was farmed, those tiles piped rainwater straight into the river, making the field dry enough to plow but delivering excess fertilizers to the river where eventually they fed harmful algae in Lake Erie. Workers opened up the tiles, allowing water to stay on the land longer. Now, excess nutrients are taken up by the native plants which have been established in the areas by the river. Drinking water for thousands is protected by wetlands like this.
With the important earth-moving and planting work complete, the parcel will be monitored by the Conservancy’s stewardship team. They will continue to watch for invasive plants and encourage the natives.
This area is not open to public access because of the importance of the burgeoning habitat, however, a nearby sign at the Forrest Woods Nature Preserve (north parking lot) on CR 73 describes the project and directs people to a similar restoration area nearby that is more established and open for nature lovers.
Conservation Manager Melanie Coulter said, “Frogs settle into these pools so quickly it almost makes you believe in spontaneous generation.” Baby wood froglets like these are already in the spring pools in the newly restored floodplain and wetlands of Marie DeLarme creek. They likely hopped over from existing wetlands.