ONDR leadership honored for wetland conservation work


COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) work as part of the H2Ohio Initiative has earned national attention by receiving the 2023 Wetland Conservation Achievement Award, presented by Ducks Unlimited. ODNR Director Mary Mertz and ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker accepted the award at the 2023 North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, last month.

“I am honored to accept an award that highlights our dedication over the last four years to protecting Ohio’s precious waterways,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “By revamping our approach to water quality, ODNR is making wetland conservation a priority and defending vital resources like Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms.”

The national award from Ducks Unlimited recognizes a state or provincial agency that has exhibited an outstanding contribution to conservation and restoration of North America’s wetlands and waterfowl. Ducks Unlimited celebrated ODNR’s H2Ohio work as an achievement that has made “huge gains for water quality, wetland habitat and quality of life for Ohio citizens.”

“We are honored to be recognized with a Ducks Unlimited 2023 Wetland Conservation Achievement Award,” said Chief Wecker. “We have realized huge gains for human health and water quality through Gov. DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative, with the added benefit of more habitat to protect the species that are important to sportsmen and women. With more projects planned in the future, we are excited to see how this partnership continues to grow in the coming years.”

ODNR currently has 140 wetland projects complete or underway across the state. Read more about the different sites at h2.ohio.gov/project/.

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 was launched with support from the Ohio General Assembly, which invested in the program in Ohio’s two most recent operating budgets. 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initiative focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring and enhancing wetlands, upgrading outdated water infrastructure, and replacing lead pipes.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, please 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.

Submitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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