Driving around the southwest corner of Lake Erie, through northwestern Ohio, is an easy enough trip currently.
But 200 years ago, it was nearly impossible and often deadly for early settlers attempting to make that journey through the Great Black Swamp to get to Michigan.
In the mid-1800s, the swamp was slowly drained as settlers dug drainage trenches and felled trees. The area is now largely farmland.
Draining that swamp led to some unanticipated consequences. Without the swamp to filter runoff pouring into Lake Erie, the lake’s developed a number of problems—including annual blooms of toxic algae.
Organizations such as the Black Swamp Conservancy are working to bring back some wetland to try and mitigate the problem.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources also has its own plan to try and restore some swamp.
Learn all about the swamp in Great Lakes Now’s segment on it:
Read more about the history of the Great Black Swamp and efforts to restore some of it at Great Lakes Now or in other publications:
To slake your curiosity about Lake Erie’s harmful algal bloom problem and how it impacts people, catch up on Great Lakes Now’s coverage of the issue: