OTTAWA COUNTY, Ohio — A group of volunteers is getting ready to help restore a former farmland into a natural wetlands habitat.
The group Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge has served as volunteers and fundraisers for the refuge since 1997.
But in recent years, the group has worked towards helping the refuge expand.
Last October, the group began working with the owner of the 40-acre property that sits right across Route 2 from the refuge. The volunteers purchased it in April.
Now, the group has received a $43,000 grant through the Ohio EPA to restore this property into wetland.
Over the next two years, the farmland will be transformed into a wet prairie and shrub habitat that will have public access sites, hiking trails and a parking lot.
The group acts independently from the Ottawa Wildlife Refuge, so it is able to move on the property purchase much quicker than the federal government could. The volunteers plan on selling the property to the refuge afterwards.
Along with expanding the current refuge and beautifying this stretch of U.S. Route 2, the restoration is also helping the water quality of Lake Erie.
"It's also great for people as well. The wetlands and the prairie that we hope to install over here, all of those plants act as a filter to take out excess nutrients before they hit Lake Erie. They act as the kidneys of the refuge, and the kidneys of the landscape if you will," said Aimee Arent, Executive Director of the Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
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