Wildwood Wetland and Stream Restoration Project Update

Hawken students plant Spadderdock, a wetland plant, in November.

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 is restoring three acres of urban coastal wetlands and restoring 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 August, wetland restoration work began with a 3 month construction schedule and follow-up plantings in the spring. A dense layer of invasive plants, Japanese knotweed, were removed and work began creating the wetland. As residents have observed, most of the work consists of moving earth to regrade the oxbow island into a wetland complex of varying water levels. Upland areas above the water are designed to protect as many mature trees as possible. Submerged pools will provide habitat and shelter for Great Lakes fish spawning and a nursery.    

Volunteers have planted over 1,700 native plants in the project area, from small plant plugs to dormant native tree cuttings called ‘live stakes,' to wetland plants harvested from nearby Singer Lake Bog in Summit County. A group of Hawken School 8th grade students, volunteers from the neighborhood, Friends of Euclid Creek members, Arcelor Mittal employees, and West Creek Watershed Stewardship Center Volunteer program volunteers participated in two planting events held in September and November. The goal is for these native plants to get established so that they can outcompete the invasive plants and to provide a much more diverse habitat for wildlife, birds and butterflies. 

Within the stream channel, several stream bank bends were stabilized and the main channel was diverted so that water during normal flow will move through the secondary oxbow channel (now the main channel), but in storm events, water will flow over the diversion channel and the entire wetland area, functioning like a floodplain.

The majority of the site grading is complete and the construction team is preparing the site for winter by installing erosion control matting and grass seed. It will take about a season for the grass and plants to get established and for the site to look naturalized again, but be patient, it will be a sight to see. 

Volunteers are needed in the spring to complete the wetland native plantings, so contact the Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator at 216-524-6580x16 or cposius@cuyahogaswcd.org if you would like to help. Or for more details see the project website at http://www.cuyahogaswcd.org/EuclidCreekFiles/EC_LacustrineRefuge.htm.

Claire Posius is the Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District.

Claire Posius

Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 9:42 AM, 12.18.2012