Biohabitats recently completed a stream and wetland restoration project at Beaver Creek located within Geauga Park District’s Bass Lake Preserve. This project included the restoration of approximately 1,800 linear feet of stream, 8 acres of riparian enhancement, the creation of wetlands, and invasive plant treatment and native plantings. The project will improve water and habitat quality for Bass Lake and the Chagrin River Watershed by restoring a natural channel flow and floodplain, and wetland habitat.
Bass Lake Preserve is a 606-acre park well known for its forested wetland complexes and high quality tributaries. The preserve and its surrounding wetlands also provide habitat for migrating waterfowl and songbirds, Bald Eagles, beavers, and state-protected plants. Bass Lake and its tributaries drain to the Upper Main Branch of the Chagrin River, which has been designated as a State Scenic River for its exceptional aquatic habitat and riparian forests.
Prior to restoration, the lower mile of Beaver Creek was severely channelized and entrenched, preventing access to the floodplain. Channelized streams tend to lose their ability to naturally process water pollutants as the water cannot spread up and over a floodplain to settle out nutrient-loaded sediment. These poor conditions have been exacerbated by human activities. Development within the watershed has resulted in more impervious surfaces, which has increased the volume of polluted stormwater runoff entering the site. Additionally, the site’s riparian area currently lacks its historical forest cover. These changes have led to the degradation of the surrounding wetlands and promoted conditions for invasive species, causing a significant ecological loss at the site.
In 2017, Chagrin River Watershed Partners (CRWP) assisted Geauga Park District in successfully nominating the Beaver Creek Restoration Project for an Ohio EPA Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP) award in the amount of $842,840 through a sponsorship agreement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. CRWP is also helping to manage the project by providing technical assistance and review, developing educational deliverables, and administering the sponsorship. The WRRSP provides funding for projects that specifically target the protection and restoration of high-quality streams and wetlands in order to counter the loss of ecological function and biological diversity that jeopardize the health of Ohio’s water resources. Biohabitats was selected as the contractor for this project.
This project reconnected the floodplain, converted the channelized stream into a new sinuous channel, and created a series of interconnected oxbow wetlands. The sinuosity, or meanders, help stabilize the stream, prevent erosion, and provide better habitat for plants and animals. Using bioengineering techniques, natural floodplain connectivity was reestablished to reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, help stabilize the channel, and improve habitat. The project also included the removal and control of invasive species and over 8 acres of riparian enhancement, including the installation of a diversity of native plants. Native deep-rooted vegetation is crucial for stabilizing banks, filtering out pollutants, and providing wildlife habitat. Live stakes, which are dormant, live woody plant cuttings, will also be installed and will anchor the soils and provide shade along the eroded stream banks. The purchase of the live stakes was made possible by a generous donation from the Bass Lake Club, who will also be helping to install them during a volunteer workday on Saturday, June 12. They will assist Biohabitats, Geauga Park District and Chagrin River Watershed Partners with planting a total of 1,500 live stakes at the project site.
This restoration will help improve water quality within Bass Lake Preserve by reducing sediment and nutrient loading, and by directly addressing other known water pollution concerns for this tributary. It will also benefit amphibians, birds, and other wildlife that requires large, connected corridors of high-quality forested wetland habitat. Overall, this project will facilitate the recovery of the ecological functions of Beaver Creek and Bass Lake Preserve, buffer Bass Lake from the stressors in the Beaver Creek watershed, and provide habitat to sensitive wildlife.
Geauga Park District manages more than 10,500 acres in 27 open parks and preserves in Geauga County. Its mission is to preserve, conserve and protect the natural features of Geauga County and to provide outdoor recreational experiences to its residents of every age, every ability and at all times of the year. Since 1961, Geauga Park District has worked to ensure that the most delicate ecosystems and the best park sites in the region remain protected from development while providing county residents the opportunity to enjoy these outstanding spaces at their leisure. For more information, visit www.geaugaparkdistrict.org.
Chagrin River Watershed Partners is a nonprofit organization that uses a regional watershed approach to enhance quality of life by preserving rivers, planning for better development, and solving natural resource management problems. Sixteen communities, counties and park districts formed the Watershed Partners in 1996 to address rising infrastructure costs because of flooding, erosion, and water pollution. Today, the Partners’ 34 members, including the Geauga Park District, represent 91% of the land area in the watershed and it works with partner watershed organizations across Ohio’s Central Lake Erie Basin. For more information about the Watershed Partners, visit www.crwp.org.
For more information, contact:
Paul Pira, Park Biologist, Geauga Park District. (440)-279-0812 email@example.com
Laura Bonnell, Project Manager, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Inc. (440) 975-2870 *1002 firstname.lastname@example.org