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Environmental Professionals Network

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Restoring Streams and Wetlands – Whose Job Is It Anyway?

Dec 7, 2021, 7:15am - 9:30am


Photo button for images taken during EPN's December 7 event

Program Overview

Designed and built properly, wetlands, streams and other ecological systems can improve our local economies, provide critical wildlife habitat for endangered and threatened species, and make our communities safer from flooding events.  

Since the late 18th century, 90 percent of Ohio’s wetland resources have been destroyed or degraded through draining, filling, or other modifications1 and while water quality in many streams has improved as the result of the Clean Water Act, only half of Ohio’s monitored stream miles currently meet their aquatic life use designations2.  

For the past several decades there has been an increased effort to protect and restore wetlands and streams in Ohio and beyond. Recently the H2Ohio project has invested millions of dollars into 133 wetland creation, enhancement, and restoration projects in the Lake Erie Basin, and this year expanded to include $5 million in grants for wetland projects in the Ohio River Basin.

Effective wetland development and stream restoration requires both earth-working and on-site management skills as well as an understanding of a site's biological, soil and hydrological properties. It’s a complicated and critically important field with uncertainties and massive room for growth as flooding events and ecosystem loss through climate change drive a greater need for effective and long-term sustainability of our wetland and stream systems. 

At the top of the graphic is a red call-out text: "whose job is it to restore our region's streams and wetlands anyway?" and to images below. The image on the left is a lady in a purple sweater, holding a yellow pencil and a thinking bubble with the text: What engineering and ecological skills are needed to construct new wetlands? The image on the left includes two gentlemen (the gentleman on left is in a shirt and suit and saying: Is our team's environmental scientist or engineer responsible for the sustainability of this stream restoration project? and the one to the right is in a dark gray suit)

We’ve called in seasoned experts Mark Dilley, professional wetland ecologist, founder and co-owner of MAD Scientist Associates, and Brian Tornes, environmental division director and environmental engineer for Burgess & Niple, to discuss whose job is it anyway?! Gail Hesse, Great Lakes water program director, National Wildlife Federation, will moderate this conversation.

We have a shared responsibility to restore the streams and wetlands of Ohio and beyond and this requires training ourselves and speaking openly about the best ways to do this work. Join this program to learn about the skills, trainings, and collaborations necessary to deliver a sustainable wetland and stream restoration project.

1Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Surface Water (2016).
2Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Steam Conservation (2021).


For in-person guests

7:15 a.m. Doors open at Ohio State 4-H Center; Coffee served.

Networking session, featuring autumn Ohio State senior Capstone Project Posters on display in the registration area. View the list of capstone projects at 

7:40 a.m. Breakfast buffet served.

For all program attendees

8:10 a.m. Jeff Sharp, PhD (director, School of Environment and Natural Resources) provides welcome remarks and other guests present a summary of Autumn Senior Capstone projects.

8:15 a.m. Mary Mertz (director, Ohio Department of Natural Resources) provides an update on ODNR and other state initiatives to support stream and wetland restoration and development.

8:20 a.m. Gail Hesse (Great Lakes water program director, National Wildlife Federation) introduces the speakers and format for the program. 

8:30 a.m. Mark Dilley (professional wetland scientist, founder and co-owner, MAD Scientist Associates) and Brian Tornes (environmental division director and environmental engineer, Burgess & Niple) participate in an interactive conversation about the roles and qualifications of ecologists and engineers in restoring streams and wetlands. Specific topics include:

  • Leadership and interdisciplinary project roles in wetland and stream restoration
  • The ecological and engineering credentials and certifications necessary to restore wetlands and streams
  • Liability and responsibility of stream and wetland design and construction
  • Building interdisciplinary project teams to share the liability among the professionals involved 
  • Advice for young professionals, non-specialists, and students on where the field is going
  • Physical, civil, soil, hydrological, and biological aspects of constructed wetlands and streams, and their response to flooding and drought events.

9:10 a.m. Audience Q&A

9:25 a.m. Closing Comments by Dr. Sharp


Headshot of EPN December program speaker, Mark Dilley in a blue stripe shirt

Mark Dilley, professional wetland scientist, founder and co-owner, MAD Scientist Associates

Mark and his wife, Chris, run MAD Scientist Associates. Mark is a Professional Wetland Scientist (Society of Wetland Scientists) and Senior Ecologist (Ecological Society of America) with over 20 years of experience in wetland science, field biology, ecology, and environmental studies. Mark is certified through Ohio EPA’s QDC program for Level 3 fish studies and habitat assessments for biological monitoring of wadable streams and rivers. He has worked on projects in 25 states, but focuses his efforts on his home state of Ohio. (Make the sustainable choice: Hire locally-grown consultants!). Mark received his B.S. in Natural Resources in Fisheries Management and his M.S. in Environmental Science from The Ohio State University, with an emphasis on wetlands. His thesis research (Atrazine Fate and Transport in a Created Flow-through Emergent Marsh: An Examination of Key Processes) was completed at the internationally-acclaimed Olentangy River Wetland Research Park at Ohio State.

Headshot of EPN December program speaker, Brian Tornes in a white shirt

Brian Tornes, environmental division director and environmental engineer, Burgess & Niple

Brian Tornes graduated with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from The Ohio State University before joining Burgess & Niple in 1990. He has a wide range of experience in water management, including stream and wetland design for habitat restoration, mitigation, flood control, and water quality improvement. Water quality improvement designs have included the use of constructed wetlands for the treatment of stormwater, sanitary wastewater, landfill leachate, and acid mine drainage. In addition to his stream and wetland restoration work, Brian is also experienced in industrial wastewater treatment, brownfield remediation, and civil/site development.

Headshot of EPN December program speaker, Gail Hesse in a black suit

Gail Hesse, Great Lakes water program director, National Wildlife Federation

Gail Hesse is the Great Lakes Water Program Director for the National Wildlife Federation. Gail leads the water team at NWF bringing her policy and technical expertise to complex water quality issues working with governmental, research and policy interests to develop collaborative approaches and innovative solutions.   Prior to joining NWF Gail was Executive Director of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and also spent 25 years in the water programs at Ohio EPA. She served as chair of the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force and was a member of the binational work group that developed the nutrient reduction targets for Lake Erie. At Ohio EPA she administered regulatory and incentive-based programs for surface water pollution control. She has a master’s degree in environmental science and a bachelor’s degree in geography both from Ohio University.

Headshot of EPN speaker, Mary Mertz

Mary Mertz, director, Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Mary Mertz was nominated as director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) on Dec. 5, 2018 and sworn in on January 14, 2019.  She was the First Assistant Attorney General under Attorney General Mike DeWine where she oversaw both the legal and administrative operations for the office, utilizing her extensive legal experience from both the private and public sectors. Prior to her appointment at the Attorney General’s Office, Mertz practiced law at a large, multi-national law firm.  Mertz also served as chief of staff to Mike DeWine while he was Lt. Governor; as the legislative director for Congressman Bob McEwen; in the office of legislative affairs in the White House; and worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources while working for Ohio Gov. George V. Voinovich. Mertz is an avid sailor and outdoorsperson.

Additional Information

This event’s California Continental Breakfast features freshly baked bagels, muffins, cranberry bread, and gluten-free zucchini bread. Yogurt and a fresh fruit salad will also be provided. Fresh Colombian coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated), hot tea, and assorted fruit juices will be served. Compostable plates, napkins and flatware utilized are made from renewable sources like corn, sugarcane, and potato starch. 

In-person attendance will be limited based upon capacity and current Ohio State safety guidelines. Registration is required for all participants. Please only register for in-person attendance if you fully expect to attend. Masks are required from all event attendees at this event, regardless of one’s vaccination status, in accordance with Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Protocols as of this date. In-person attendees will be expected to follow Ohio State protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. More health and safety information available on this Personal Safety Practices page. All fees will be refunded if changes in COVID-19 restrictions prevent in-person attendance. 

We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Cecil Okotah ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs. For the virtual audience, a closed captioning option via EPN’s YouTube live stream will be available, as well as other accommodations as requested on the registration.

This program will be recorded, edited, and posted to the EPN YouTube page by December 14, 2021.

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