Swamp's reach growing: Improvements will ramp up programs, impact

Ohio State University's renowned Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, which opened its doors 20 years ago, is now in the process of opening them wider.

The 52-acre Columbus facility is undergoing $75,000 in renovations to its main teaching and research building as part of a broader effort to increase the park's access, use, and impact.

Programs in the park focus on how wetlands function, how to create and restore them, and how they benefit the environment and people. Water from the adjacent Olentangy River fills two main experimental wetlands at the site, each of which are about the size of two football fields. Ohio State officials call it the only facility like it on a university campus.

'It's a unique resource that enjoys a long history of onsite research, wide recognition, and strong public support."—Ron Hendrick

"The Schiermeier is uniquely positioned to more broadly address problems related to water supply and quality in Ohio and beyond," said Ron Hendrick, director of CFAES's School of Environment and Natural Resources, of which the park is a part.

"However, to facilitate this, we need to increase (the park's) ability to attract additional researchers, educators, and outreach professionals," he said. "They, in turn, will expand our impact on students, environmental professionals, and the public."

Increased capacity for students, research

Lynn McCready, a research associate who manages the park's day-to-day operations, said improvements include installing two new classrooms in the Heffner Wetland Research and Education Building, which have tripled the park's classroom capacity, and adding new offices in the building for graduate students and visiting scholars.

"In addition to our traditional 'Wetlands Management and Ecology' course, two other courses are newly based at the facility during autumn semester, 'Aquatic Ecology Methods' and 'Aquatic Invertebrates,' " McCready said.

"We're looking forward to continuing this expansion."

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-- Kurt Knebusch, Communications & Technology