Project restores natural refuge in midst of urban area

Project Summary: Restoring the Lacustrine Refuge, a four-acre wetland adjacent to a Lake Erie tributary in Cleveland, created wildlife habitat, reduced polluted runoff and is expected to generate recreational opportunities valued at $2.4 million — nearly twice the project cost.

 

Project name: Lacustrine Refuge Restoration.

Location: Cleveland, Ohio.

Approximate cost of project: $1.4 million, which was provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

This aerial photo shows the proximity of the Lacustrine Refuge to Lake Erie. (Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District photo)

This aerial photo shows the proximity of the Lacustrine Refuge to Lake Erie. (Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District photo)

Description: The Lacustrine Refuge is a four-acre wetland adjacent to Euclid Creek, in Cleveland’s Wildwood Lakefront State Park. Euclid Creek is a heavily urbanized stream that drains 24 square miles of land in Cleveland before flowing into Lake Erie.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened a portion of the creek and altered its flow as part of an urban flood control project in the 1980s. Dredge spoils from a nearby marina were reportedly dumped in low-lying areas at the refuge nearly a century ago, damaging valuable coastal wetlands. The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District managed the effort to restore the refuge and Euclid Creek. A coalition of local agencies worked together to return Euclid Creek to its natural channel, remove about 20,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils from wetlands in the refuge and remove acres of invasive Japanese knotweed and other non-native plants. The project restored an important coastal wetland that offers new habitat for wildlife, filters pollutants out of water headed to Lake Erie and helps control flooding and stream bank erosion. The refuge also gives urban residents a chance to experience a vibrant natural area teeming with birds and amphibians that have long been absent from the area.

Resource challenges addressed: Loss of wetlands and wildlife habitat, polluted runoff and invasive plant species.

A restored stream bank along Euclid Creek, now in its natural channel. (Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District photo)

A restored stream bank along Euclid Creek, now in its natural channel. (Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District photo)

Key partners (public and private): Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, City of Cleveland, Friends of Euclid Creek, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, RiverWorks and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Types of jobs created: Biologists, ecologists, landscape architects, surveyors, heavy equipment operators and general laborers.

Results and accomplishments: The project restored 1,100 linear feet of Euclid Creek, returned the creek to its natural channel and restored four acres of coastal wetlands near Lake Erie. The project also created new recreational opportunities and advanced efforts to the get the Cuyahoga River removed from a list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

Web site: http://bit.ly/Reftd9

Originally Published: March 13, 2013

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