Restoration of wetland and prairie on farmland in the former great black swamp of Ohio, u.s.a

Christian F. Lenhart, Peter C. Lenhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A restoration project was initiated in 2004 to re-establish wet prairie, swamp forest, and oak savanna on 16.2 ha of farmland in northwestern Ohio along a post-glacial lake beach ridge that marked the edge of the Great Black Swamp. The goals were to restore rare and declining plant communities and species and provide nutrient load reduction to Lake Erie. Plant inventories over time and wetland outflow monitoring were used to assess project success. In total 80 species were established in the prairie including six state-listed threatened or endangered plants and < 1% invasive species coverage. Forest restoration efforts established 435 trees with a 31% seedling survival over nine years. Wetland outflow was zero during the monitoring period of April-December in 2012 and 0.4% of total rainfall during 2013, suggesting a large reduction in nutrient outflow. Difficulties with tree plantings in the clay soils of the lake plain include frost heave, low organic matter content, deer grazing, and decline of the two swamp forest dominants: American elm (Ulmus americana) and ash (Fraxinus spp). The restoration of forest on private lands is a long-term process challenged by maintenance and funding issues. This project provided information on restoration alternatives and challenges for farmland within a glacial lake plain setting. Lessons learned will help improve future restoration projects in similar settings to reduce nutrient loading into Lake Erie.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-449
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Restoration
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Hydrology
  • Lake erie
  • Oak savannah
  • Swamp forest
  • Wet prairie


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