A Brief Park History

The Olentangy River Wetland Research Park is located on ~52 acres of land that is owned by The Ohio State University and maintained by the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The site is host to several wetlands including two experimental human-created wetlands, a bottomland hardwood forest floodplain wetland, a human-created oxbow or billabong wetland, and a storm water wetland. The site also boasts a bio-reserve pond, swale creek, and pond/wetland that has historically been seasonally inundated using a water hose.

The experimental wetlands were the first wetlands constructed on site, with construction beginning in 1993 and concluding in 1994. Water was initially pumped into the two experimental wetlands on March 4, 1994. This date is affectionately referred to as the wetland’s “birthday” by Dr. Mitsch and ORWRP staff. These experimental wetlands receive hydrological inputs from the Olentangy River via a pump located near the North foot-bridge that crosses over the river (see map for exact location). To replicate natural water exchange between the river and wetlands, the pumps are adjusted so that when the river level is low, less water is pumped into the wetlands. Conversely, when the river is high, the wetlands receive more water.

The bottomland hardwood forest and the oxbow wetlands also receive the majority of their water from the Olentangy River, but instead of a pump system, water flows into these wetlands via gravity.  As water travels through the two experimental wetlands and the oxbow, a good portion of it leaves as surface flow into the swale. The swale then takes the water back into the Olentangy River, returning the water to its natural source.

To learn more about the construction and history of the park, join us for a guided tour!


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