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Wetland Monitoring Program Hosts Successful Second Annual Partner Day

By Olivia Schloegel, Research Coordinator

The H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program shines brightest in its commitment to science-based assessment of state funded wetland projects and its facilitation of crosscutting perspectives in wetland restoration and management. The Program hosted more than 70 university researchers, agency staff, and conservation professionals in Columbus, OH on January 10, 2024. Known as “Partner Day”, each year this meeting aims to share “on the ground” realities between scientists and land managers and strengthen collaboration between institutions. The day is a mix of informational presentations, unstructured networking, and structured interactive discussion.

Last year at Partner Day, participants exchanged stories about challenges and successes from their respective roles. Consequently, the Program was able to identify effective ways to communicate observations made in the field while characterizing and monitoring wetland projects. This year featured discussion of existing H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program communication tools, including a Project Site Case Study released in conjunction with a 2023 Public Webinar reporting highlights of results thus far. The groups also reviewed and responded to Project Specific Monitoring Plans, documents created by wetland monitoring program research teams that describe wetland features and sampling parameters. While they have different audiences (the case study for public stakeholders, the plans for monitoring program researchers), the structure and content of these documents will be improved over the next year based on feedback gathered at Partner Day.

Agency staff and conservation professionals are the bridge builders between public stakeholders and those monitoring wetlands; their insights help strengthen outreach tools, making them more relevant and useful in communicating real-time realities in the course of a long-term monitoring program. Likewise, Partner Day offers researchers a chance to provide context and explain uncertainty around current wetland nutrient estimates and underscore the importance of long-term monitoring.

January 10, 2024, Columbus, OH- H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program Researchers and Partners (i.e., Agency Staff and Conservation Professionals) work in small groups to assess effectiveness of current Monitoring Program Communication tools. Photo Credit: Raissa Mendonca.

At the 2024 Partner Day, participants also heard informational presentations on drainage area estimates, hydrologic flow path identification, sensor network accomplishments, and tradeoffs of different nutrient budget approaches. During an unstructured networking lunch, the room was filled with diverse conversations, as folks made connections across wetland projects and institutions. Having so much “brainpower and unique perspectives” in the room was “a tremendous opportunity for growth,” said Eric Saas, Ohio Department of Natural Resource H2Ohio Wetland Program Lead.

The H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program is a multi-institution group of researchers tasked with assessing nutrient removal of H2Ohio wetland restoration and enhancement projects implemented by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. For highlights of the H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program and its accomplishments, see the 2022 Annual Report. Data summaries of the first two years of data collected will be presented in the 2023 Annual Report, expected spring 2024.

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