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Toledo students help with restoration project in the Maumee AOC

Students planting live stakes of willow and red osier dogwood at Hill Ditch
Students from Toledo Public Schools plant live stakes of Willow and Red Osier Dogwood at Hill Ditch within the Maumee AOC. (Credit: Toledo Blade)

With funding from the GLRI and H2Ohio, Toledo Public Schools and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency led two events to help restore Hill Ditch, a tributary of the Ottawa River within the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC). Hill Ditch restoration project partners include the U.S. EPA, Toledo Public Schools, the Mannik and Smith Group, Metroparks Toledo, Geo Gradel Co., GEI Consultants, and Partners for Clean Streams. 

Ohio EPA coordinated a live stake harvesting event with Toledo Public School Natural Science Technology Center (ANSAT) students. During the event at Wiregrass Lake Metropark, students harvested dormant branches of Willow and Red Osier Dogwood trees for replanting as part of a habitat restoration project nearby in the Maumee AOC. The students cut, trimmed, and bundled 525 stakes to be installed at the Hill Ditch project site. Three days later, students assisted with the live stake planting, where they planted about 400 of the harvested stakes directly into the soil. These stakes will root a few weeks after planting and will eventually grow into new trees. 

Hill Ditch is a newly re-routed tributary stream of the Ottawa River, which ultimately flows into Maumee Bay and Lake Erie. These new plantings will help stabilize the stream banks and improve the riparian and aquatic habitat in the restored portion of the stream, which flows through the ANSAT campus. By stabilizing the stream banks, the willow and dogwood trees will not only help keep the soil in place but can also reduce the amount of phosphorous and nutrients entering the waterway that can ultimately contribute to harmful algal blooms in Maumee Bay. The harvest and planting events were unique opportunities for ANSAT students to learn about restoration ecology, bioengineering, and to gain hands-on experience with ecosystem restoration practices. Future students will also benefit from this project as part of learning exercises for their courses at ANSAT, where they will be able to study this restoration project as it matures.

To learn more about these events and the Hill Ditch restoration, watch news coverage from WTOL-Channel 11(YouTube) featuring the project.