Wildwood Wetland and Stream Restoration Project update
The Lacustrine Refuge is a wetland and stream restoration project located in Wildwood State Park in the City of Cleveland. Located on the Main Branch of Euclid Creek near Lake Erie, this ~$1.4 million dollar Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funded project aims to restore three acres of urban coastal wetlands and restore 1,100 linear feet of shoreline habitat to serve as a fish habitat refuge and nursery for the urban coastal estuary zone. An estuary, or lacustuary in freshwater systems, provides habitat for nearshore fish and typically consists of wetlands. Today, the Euclid Creek estuarine zone has been modified for a public park and marina.
In the Spring of 2011, the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (Cuyahoga SWCD) engaged the services of consultant team RiverWorks (EnviroScience, GDP Group, and RiverReach Construction) to design and construct the project. While developing the project design, the consultants sampled fish populations to see what fish are present before the project is constructed. Once the restoration is complete, post construction monitoring will take place to see if fish and bug populations have increased with the hopes of finding new fish species in Euclid Creek, like Bowfin and Northern Pike.
Another project goal is to control several of the exotic invasive plants that are taking over native vegetation in the park. The two main culprits, Japanese knotweed and Phragmites, are plants that cannot be controlled through pulling by hand. The EnviroScience crew sprayed these plants several times over the past year with a non-toxic herbicide that does not hurt aquatic fish and bug species in nearby Euclid Creek, or humans and pets using the park for recreation. These invasive plants outcompete native plant biodiversity thus displacing and decreasing populations of wildlife, butterflies, and birds that rely on native plants for food, shelter and breeding.
The project team is close to finalizing all of the necessary permitting and reviews with local and federal agencies. This process has taken a considerable amount of time and resources to satisfy the various permits, including an intensive review from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydraulic division for the proposed modification to the 1980’s diversion channel that created the oxbow condition (i.e. what is considered the main channel of Euclid Creek today). While our Great Lakes restoration project is not a flood control project, the project underwent a similar level of scrutiny and review. The Army Corps has approved the proposed changes to the area based on rigorous hydraulic studies, flood elevations and evaluation of risk. The proposed restoration project does not increase flood elevations that exist today. The removal of a majority of the island sediment for wetlands and an increase in stream width and capacity at the mouth of the oxbow area actually improve current conditions, while meeting the habitat restoration goals of the project. The modified diversion channel will not be removed entirely but will exist as an overflow conveyance channel similar to its original intention when floodwaters reach a certain height.
The project is nearing groundbreaking and residents may see more construction equipment and activity starting in July.
If you have questions, please contact Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator Claire Posius at 216-524-6580x16 or firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or for more details see the project website at http://www.cuyahogaswcd.org/EuclidCreekFiles/EC_LacustrineRefuge.htm.
Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District