Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler visited northwestern Ohio on Monday and announced more than $12 million in grants and projects that will benefit Great Lakes cleanup efforts in the Toledo, Ohio, area. He also toured two local farms to observe the conservation efforts made by the local agricultural community.
Following his press conference with local and state officials, Wheeler toured Kurt Farms and Kellogg Farms, both part of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network (BRDFN), where he heard first-hand about nutrient management practices to promote local soil and water conservation efforts. BRDFN is a five-year joint partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Ohio Farm Bureau, with $1 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources director Mary Mertz said the department “is incredibly grateful for the support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as we work to rebuild and enhance wetlands and forested areas, protect critical wildlife habitat and improve water quality throughout the Maumee Area of Concern. We value the U.S. EPA as our partner to invest in long-term conservation work that will have a positive impact on this area for generations.”
Wheeler also highlighted a $10 million partnership with industry for a sediment cleanup in Otter Creek and a $200,000 partnership with the Ohio EPA to evaluate cleanup options at Swan Creek.
An additional $1.8 million in GLRI grants to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were announced for habitat restoration projects in the Area of Concern. At Maumee State Forest, the department will use GLRI funding to convert farmland to wetland and forestland, resulting in 157 acres of restored state forest. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will also enhance 1,000 acres of the Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area through improved fish passage, managing water levels and controlling invasive species.