Ohio’s Wetland Inventory to be updated by a consortium of State, Federal and
Sept. 15, 2006 – The current state of Ohio’s wetland inventory is like flipping through 200 satellite TV channels without a TV guide – you might eventually find what you are looking for, but it’s going to take a while. What this consortium of State, Federal and Non-governmental organizations is trying to develop is a detailed guide to Ohio’s wetlands so natural resource professionals can strategically plan protection and restoration efforts.
According to Chief Gray, Ohio Division of Wildlife, “Ohio is second to only California in its loss of wetlands. An accurate inventory of existing wetlands is critical to strategic wetland restoration efforts.”
The consortium includes: ODNR Division of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., ONDR Information Technology, ODNR Office of Coastal Management, Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Transportation, Lake Erie Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Ohio NRCS, U.S. EPA - Great Lakes National Program Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Great Lakes Coastal Program, The Nature Conservancy, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and Cleveland Metroparks.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) National Wetlands Inventory (NWI)was accomplished for the state of Ohio using aerial photos from 1975 to 1989. However, most of Ohio’s NWI is only available in hardcopy format, which cannot be used for analysis with geographic information systems (GIS). The completion of a digital (computer map) NWI layer will allow the consortium to analyze the wetlands (circa late 70’s to 80’s) in Ohio in an efficient manner and with other layers such as existing protected lands and habitat maps to form strategic planning efforts to protect and restore critical wetland areas in the state of Ohio. In addition, the consortium has a contract to fly new aerial photos this year for the northern half of Ohio and in 2007 for the southern half of Ohio. These new photos will be used to update the NWI wetlands database for Ohio.
Using a similar process to update the NWI wetlands in lower Michigan, Ducks Unlimited has estimated that there has been a decrease of 18,000 breeding mallards over a 20 year period due to the loss of important wetland types.
“Updating the National Wetlands Inventory in Ohio will assist us in our strategic efforts to protect and restore critical wetlands needed to increase waterfowl populations and wildlife habitat throughout the Great Lakes,” stated Bob Hoffman, director of Ducks Unlimited’s Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office. Ducks Unlimited is also working on updating the NWI for Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
An accurate inventory of Ohio’s wetlands will allow conservation organizations to work with the agricultural industry and local and regional land use planners to make wise decisions – for wildlife habitat and the economy - based on the best and most current information available.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.