In early 2022, TNC completed restoration work at Sandhill Crane Wetlands, an addition to the Kitty Todd Nature Preserve that restored 280 acres of marginal farmland to native wet prairie habitat. To date, it is the largest effort in the region to return this type of rare wetland habitat to the landscape—one characterized by relatively flat land that seasonally holds water and supports diverse sedges, grasses and shrubs. The restoration site is situated between land protected by TNC and Metroparks Toledo, filling a critical gap and strengthening a 13,000-acre corridor of protected land throughout the Oak Openings Region.
Wetlands once dominated northwest Ohio but have been reduced in size due to the installation of drainage infrastructure, agriculture and land development. Today, less than 5%-10% of Ohio’s original wetlands remain. Wetlands act as nature’s kidneys, and their loss has resulted in increased fertilizers and contaminants reaching Lake Erie, a vital source of drinking water for 11 million people. At the same time, climate change has led to rising temperatures and more severe rainfall events, a perilous combination as evidenced by recurring harmful algal blooms, which are toxic to people and wildlife.
In addition to offering important water-quality protection, the restoration of Sandhill Crane Wetlands also benefits native wildlife. The site offers critical habitat for songbirds, waterfowl, reptiles and amphibians, and staff hope to soon see the return of state-threatened nesting sandhill cranes to the area.