A one-mile stretch of the Maumee River has been transformed from a frequently flooded farm field back to a functioning streamside forest by the Black Swamp Conservancy. The Paulding County property was purchased in 2017 as an addition to the Conservancy’s 393-acre Forrest Woods Nature Preserve.
The Conservancy retired the riverside farmland from agricultural production, restored a drainage ditch to a natural stream channel, and planted native wetland plants and trees that are a crucial part of natural riverside plant communities. All told, more than 11,000 native trees and shrubs were planted on the property.
“All kinds of wildlife and fish that use the river corridor will find important food and shelter in and under this new stretch of streamside forest, as it matures,” remarked Melanie Coulter, the group’s Conservation Manager. “The restored stream and wetlands will filter out excess nutrients and sediment to improve water quality in the river. The new habitat created here will be a buffer for the old-growth woods at the core of Forrest Woods Nature Preserve, helping to protect this biodiversity hotspot.”
Indeed, Forrest Woods Nature Preserve is a biologically important property. Thirty-nine rare, threatened and endangered species of plants and animals have been recorded at this important remnant of the Great Black Swamp. Portions of the property were dedicated as a State Nature Preserve by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in 2008.
This property is part of a larger restoration effort by Black Swamp Conservancy to expand wildlife habitat at Forrest Woods and improve water quality in the Maumee River. Over the past several years, the group has restored a total of 189 acres of land at the preserve. Another active stream and wetland restoration project, funded by Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio program, is now in the engineering and design phase.
The newly completed project’s engineering and design was made possible through support provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program, with Pittman Robertson Wildlife funding, and The Nature Conservancy.
Implementation was financed through a grant from the Ohio EPA and the US EPA with funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The OEPA received total financial support in the amount of $1,909,283 from the EPA for this project and others.