COLUMBUS, Ohio – Congress has its eye on Ohio State University's Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP) to continue its research in ecological restoration, as well as to help solve a pollution problem growing in the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) recently announced the Senate passage of the 2006 Interior Appropriations Bill, which includes a $500,000 allocation for ORWRP initiatives on how the restoration of wetlands and rivers can improve habitats, flood control and water quality.
"This project is important to help preserve not only Ohio's natural resources, but to preserve and restore wetlands across the country. The information researchers gain from this wetlands initiative can go a long way in ensuring we can use and enjoy this unique ecosystem for decades to come," said DeWine, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Part of a 30-acre wetlands complex near Ohio State's Columbus campus, ORWRP is a premier site designed for researchers to study river and wetland processes and investigate if and how systems can be restored or created for habitat enhancement, flood control, and water quality improvement. With its new wetland research building, there is no other facility of its kind on any other campus in the nation for environmental education, research, and outreach, which can address solutions to these important issues.
"Potential funding from the Interior Appropriations Bill would continue to support the wide variety of critical research initiatives conducted at the wetlands research park, including the expansion of a monitoring network of real-time wetlands data, continuing water quality studies, analyzing greenhouse gases released from wetlands and studying the affect of the removal of the Olentangy River Dam," said Bill Mitsch, director of ORWRP and a professor with Ohio State's School of Natural Resources.
DeWine's announcement comes on the heels of Congresswoman Deborah Pryce's (R-OH) recent statement that the House of Representatives passed the 2005 Water Resources Development Act, which includes a provision for a partnership with ORWRP, Louisiana State University, and the Army Corps of Engineers to assess hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.
Water quality deterioration and wetland loss are serious problems along the Mississippi River Basin. As a result of pollution and land drainage, the Gulf of Mexico now has a pollution zone from hypoxia, an area of low oxygen proven detrimental to all aquatic life caught in its wake. The current low oxygen area is estimated to be about the size of New Jersey.
"I am very pleased that the expertise and resources of Ohio State University will be utilized in solving this harmful and disturbing environmental problem," Pryce said. "Even though the Gulf of Mexico is far away from the Horseshoe, central Ohio residents can be proud that OSU will be working to solve some of our hemisphere's most pressing environmental issues."
Bobby Moser, Dean of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences said, "We are extremely pleased that the work we are doing at Ohio State University is making significant contributions to identifying a remedy to some of our nation's most critical environmental issues. The leadership of Congresswoman Pryce and Senator DeWine in support of these efforts clearly demonstrates vision for the future and an understanding of the importance of protecting water as one of our most basic and crucial resources."
For more information on Ohio State's Olentangy River Wetland Research Park located off Dodridge Road, please log on to http://swamp.osu.edu.