Most of Ohio's wetlands were drained and filled to make way for farms, roadways, houses and other development. Mining, fluctuating water levels and logging also impacted Ohio's wetlands. In fact, nearly 90 percent of Ohio's original wetlands have disappeared. From the 1780's to the 1980's, Ohio wetland areas declined from about 5,000,000 acres to about 483,000 acres. Ohio's original wetlands were very large. Examples include:
Today, the scale is much different - large wetlands would actually be very small in comparison to original wetlands.
"Before 1780, about 183,000 acres (0.5% of Ohio's total area) were covered by peatlands (Dachnoqski, 1912).¬
In 1912 Dachnowski conducted a comprehensive, county-by-county survey of glaciated parts of Ohio and located 206 peatlands that had a combined area of about 150,000.¬
Andreas and Knoop (1992) field inventoried the flora of 125 peatlands and estimated that between 1900 and 1921, 76,500 of 79,500 acres of peatland were destroyed, and only 2 % of these wetlands today contain plant communities associated with peatlands."
Taken from Ohio Wetland Resources, National Water Summary, USGS Water-Supply Paper 2425.
For example, only 5 percent of the original Great Black Swamp remains. With the notable exceptions of a few large tracts of marsh and swamp in Ottawa, Sandusky, Lucas, Ashtabula, Geauga and Trumbell Counties, most of Ohio's remaining wetlands are scattered wooded tracts.
These wooded tracts, along with restorable wetlands, are privately owned, while the large blocks of wetlands remaining are publically owned.
The Natural Vegetation Map of Ohio (at the time of the earliest land surveys), shows large and widely distributed areas comprised of elm-ash swamp forests, prairie, freshwater marshes and fens, sphagnum peat bogs and bottomland hardwood forest wetlands in Ohio.