“Enrolling my land into the program made economic and environmental sense to me,” Ron said. “The fields weren’t producing enough crops and I wanted to get an actual investment from the land. My family loves to hunt, and by restoring wetlands, I’m creating wildlife corridors and a place for my family to enjoy.”
He’s already enrolled approximately 80 acres in the WRE program and has worked with NRCS staff to put conservation practices on the ground. So far, they have installed wetland pools; planted native trees, shrubs, and grasses; and utilized prescribed burns and herbaceous weed control to help native species establish on the land.
“We work with the landowner to restore what was naturally here prior to farming,” NRCS Putnam County Resource Conservationist Kevin Edinger said. “Once the landowner goes through the application process, NRCS staff draw up both a hydrological and vegetative restoration plan for the site. In Ohio, we have a unique approach where NRCS also hires contractors to help the landowner implement the practices on the ground.”
This follow-through method allows landowner to take advantage of NRCS technical and financial assistance and ensures construction and vegetative establishment oversight to fully restore wetland function, value, and habitat.
“We’ve had to battle some significant agricultural weed pressure on this site. As you can see it’s an ongoing battle. So far, we’ve had some great success restoring the hydrology on this ground and now we’re focused on establishing native vegetation.” NRCS Wetland Team Leader Chris Eidson said. “We’ll do this through a combination of chemical and mechanical control measures on the front end before planting a mix of native grasses and forbs. Once we get them going, we’ll then circle back with prescribed burns when the vegetation tells us it’s time.”
Kenzie has been on the front lines with her grandfather, working to ensure that the native trees and shrubs that have been planted on the site stay healthy.
“We’ll go out to the site and Kenzie and my other grandkids will get two-gallon buckets to help water the tree saplings,” Ron said. “It’s important to me that my grandkids remember that they helped improve our land, that it was a family effort.”
The family’s hard work is starting to pay off. There are tadpoles in the wetland pools, which Kenzie likes to catch. Ron mentions that this spring, white-tailed deer, and fawns visited the site frequently. Happy with the early results, Ron is planning to enroll an additional 100 acres into the ACEP-WRE program.
“Nothing worth doing happens quickly,” Ron said. “But the experience has been great and what we’ve done will have a lasting impact, creating wildlife habitat and improving the water quality in the area.”
In Ohio, private landowners have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to enroll 28,122.27 acres in wetlands.
Landowners interested in wetland reserve easements and partners interested in agricultural easements should contact Michael Hasty, Ohio ACEP-WRE easement coordinator at 614-255-2442 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.