Groundbreaking, ribbon cutting held for wetlands

By Aimee Hancock

ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com

MIAMI COUNTY — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the H2Ohio Program held a groundbreaking and tour of the future home of the Tipp City Off-Channel Wetland project this week. Following the groundbreaking, a ribbon-cutting event was held for the Springcreek Confluence Off-Channel Wetland project off Troy-Sidney Road north of Troy.

The Tipp City Off-Channel Wetland project, located at 3501 E. State Route 571, and the Springcreek Confluence Off-Channel Wetland, located at 2290 Troy-Sidney Road, are both part of the H2Ohio plan.

H2Ohio is Gov. Mike DeWine’s comprehensive, data-driven water quality plan to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure, and prevent lead contamination. The Ohio General Assembly invested $172 million in the plan in July, and since then, strategies have been developed for long-term, cost-effective, and permanent water quality solutions.

H2Ohio’s targeted priorities include reducing phosphorus, addressing failing septic systems, preventing lead contamination, and creating wetlands.

Eric Saas, program manager for the ODNR H2Ohio Program, said during Wednesday’s groundbreaking event in Tipp City that both wetland projects have been made possible through a collaboration of agencies.

“We’re very proud that this is a multi-agency partnership like many of our H2Ohio projects. We’ve got the city of Tipp City involved here, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (and) we’ve got the Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA), who provided partnership funding to support this project,” Saas said.

For the Springcreek Confluence Off-Channel Wetland, the Miami County Parks District has also played a role in its development.

According to Donnie Knight, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, the OWDA provided H2Ohio with $500,000 for the funding of both wetland projects. The Tipp City Off-Channel Wetland will utilize a total of $254,000 of these funds, and the rest went toward the completion of the Springcreek Confluence Off-Channel Wetland. The Springcreek project also utilized $200,000 in funding from the National Fish Passage Program and $30,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to H2Ohio, the creation of wetland areas allows for the reduction of phosphorus run-off, as well as additional environmental benefits such as the absorption of pollutants, slowing down the movement of water, offering a natural filtering process, and preventing the further movement of contaminated matter. All H2Ohio wetlands will be monitored and managed, but will be primarily self-sustaining once established.

Tipp City Mayor Joe Gibson was in attendance at the groundbreaking event Wednesday and shared news regarding the official naming of the Tipp City Off-Channel Wetland. Gibson said the wetland will be named after Tipp City resident, the late Jesse Chamberland, who died earlier this year. Chamberland was the first city council president and the first mayor under the current city charter.

“Jesse lived to be 100 years old, and even up until his final years, he was very active in the community,” Gibson said. “It was a great loss to our community … so we thought it would be fitting to honor him and honor his memory and legacy by naming this project after him.”

The official name will be shared during the ribbon cutting ceremony at the completion of the project.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Springcreek Confluence Off-Channel Wetland, which is on a portion of land that abuts Duke Park, Miami County Parks District Executive Director Scott Myers spoke about the future of the area.

“This was part of a larger project; we’re on 40 acres of a 117-acre farm. The city of Troy, working with us, purchased the farm, and we purchased this (area) from the city of Troy as a pure conservation project,” Myers said.

Myers said the city of Troy, utilizing portions of the farm still in its possession, plans to create a 50-acre reserve, as well as a baseball complex.

“We’re going to have two overlooks from that reserve overlooking (the wetland), educating folks about this property and this project,” he said. “It will be a plethora of parks and recreation activities in one site, so it’s really a cool location.”