During Ohio Visit, Secretary Haaland Highlights Infrastructure Investments to Plug Orphaned Wells, Restore Wildlife Habitats

3/5/2022
Last edited 3/7/2022

Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was in Ohio for the second day today to meet with elected officials, community leaders, and Department employees to highlight infrastructure investments that are helping to preserve, protect and restore Ohio’s lands and waters.

At Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Secretary Haaland and Rep. Shontel Brown discussed upcoming projects supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the Great American Outdoors Act.

Secretary Haaland and the group first visited an orphaned oil and gas well site, where they saw two of the highest risk orphaned wells impacting human health and the environment. The Park has more than 85 active oil and gas wells within its boundaries, 17 of which are orphaned. Funding from the Infrastructure Law will help plug wells, which pose the most significant environmental and health hazards.

Secretary Haaland also met with National Park Service staff, where she heard about ongoing efforts funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to restore wildlife habitat and improve water quality in the Cuyahoga River. This restoration supports efforts to remove the lower Cuyahoga River from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Areas of Concern, as designated under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) between the United States and Canada.

At the Park, Secretary Haaland also highlighted how infrastructure funding from the Great American Outdoors Act will help address public hazards, reduce excess assets, and restore the land for public use by demolishing deteriorated, non-historic structures and stabilizing the Cuyahoga Riverbank. In addition to addressing nearly $20 million in deferred maintenance, these efforts will help protect the river’s water quality, use as a state designated water trail, and eligibility for designation under the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

Secretary Haaland and Rep. Marcy Kaptur then visited Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Oak Harbor, where they discussed ongoing efforts to restore, enhance and reconnect coastal wetland habitats. Through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Refuge has received more than $10 million dollars to restore, enhance and reconnect coastal wetland habitats. Secretary Haaland and Rep. Kaptur celebrated the partnership between the Refuge and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to reconnect more than 900 acres of refuge system lands to Lake Erie, which will improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitats across Lake Erie watersheds.

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