COLUMBUS, Ohio – July 6, 2021 – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio’s 134th General Assembly continue their conservation legacy by passing into law the FY22-23 biennial budget containing nearly $170 million dedicated for the state’s keystone water quality program, the H2Ohio Initiative.
Established in 2019, H2Ohio addresses the state’s water quality challenges in creative ways and has gained recognition as one of the nation’s leading voluntary private/public partnership-based water quality programs.
“Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative has been a game changer for Ducks Unlimited and our wetland conservation efforts in Ohio,” said Ducks Unlimited’s Ohio Regional Biologist Russ Terry. “These projects filter thousands of acres of agricultural drainage to remove nutrients and sediment that will improve the quality of water reaching Lake Erie, while also improving waterfowl and wildlife habitat.”
DU has received seven H2Ohio grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources which have allocated $8.1 million to protect or restore more than 1,300 acres of wetlands. These conservation investments add to a sizeable history of DU wetland restoration work. To date DU has invested $39 million to conserve over 101,000 acres throughout the state.
“The H2Ohio initiative is poised to significantly improve water quality and the quality of life here in Ohio,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “By working with Ducks Unlimited and other conservation partners, we are using wetlands and other long-term natural infrastructure to tackle the problems caused by harmful algal blooms. We appreciate the commitment shown by Governor DeWine and the Ohio legislature to continue to support our wetlands work.”
Ohio’s economy and the quality of life of its residents are inextricably linked to the health of the state’s natural resources. Fertile soils, major river systems, miles of Great Lakes shoreline and critically important coastal and inland wetland systems make Ohio a treasure in the Great Lakes region for outdoor enthusiasts, agricultural producers and business owners. These collective interests need increased investments on the landscape to steward the very resources that shape Ohio’s identity.
An example of this investment is the recent formation of the Ohio Water Partnership (OWP), of which Ducks Unlimited is a member. OWP is broad-based and diverse coalition of businesses advocating for sound water policy and whose mission is to ensure a consistent, effective and equitable approach to protecting and preserving Ohio’s natural resources. The coalition contains Fortune 500 companies as well as small businesses and conservation nonprofit organizations like DU. OWP was closely involved in the budget process and a critical ally in getting H2Ohio robustly funded.