Grant-funded Natural Resource Management projects to begin at Orchard Hills Park and Sunnybrook Preserve

Geauga Park District is pleased to report updates on two grant-funded natural resource management projects soon to be underway in parks located within Chester Township.

At Orchard Hills Park, Geauga Park District’s Natural Resource Management team is currently preparing approximately 10 acres for a reforestation project to take place in mid-late fall. The project contract was awarded to Davey Resource Group last month.

To facilitate the long-term return of a large, mature, native forest ecosystem through planned habitat restoration, Geauga Park District received a $72,000 grant in 2018, with the help of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners, through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative/U.S. Forest Service. In total, 2,300 native Ohio trees will be planted: a wide variety of oaks and hickories, sugar maple, walnut, sycamore and more. About half will be bare-root, while the other half will be one- to three-gallon potted trees. Some shrubs may be planted as well.

According to Park Biologist Paul Pira: “This project’s main goal is to protect and enhance water quality within the Caves Creek watershed, which eventually feeds into the Chagrin River, which will be accomplished through our strategic reforestation efforts.”

Deer protection (tree guards) and fencing will then be installed around the trees, followed by tree health and survivorship monitoring by Park District staff over the next several years.

Additionally, at Sunnybrook Preserve, Geauga Park District plans to hire a design-build team to complete a wetland restoration project sometime in 2020, which will be funded through a $120,000 grant through the Ohio EPA’s Section 319 Non-Point Source Implementation Program.

Sunnybrook Preserve is predominantly wooded park comprised of 73 acres within the East Branch of the Chagrin River watershed. This project will help correct erosion issues and restore in-stream habitat by utilizing natural channel design principles along about 500 linear feet of Sunnybrook, a cold water tributary.

“Sunnybrook stream harbors a number of sensitive aquatic species such as Redside Dace, Longnose Dace and the Northern Clearwater Crayfish,” Pira said. “With this project we hope to improve water quality within the stream and also provide better in-stream habitat, which may eventually even help increase these species’ numbers.”

The project will also plant one acre of riparian area with native woody vegetation, and improve associated riparian wetlands, returning them to a more natural state through concentrated invasive plant management (the removal of reed canary grass, common reed and European black alder).

Certain habitat-appropriate, Geauga-native species will be planted to enhance the wetland and riparian zones: a diversity of shrubs such as silky dogwood, winterberry and buttonbush; trees such as the river birch and swamp white oak; and a diversity of wetland wildflowers, ferns and sedges. Restored and reconnected wetlands will provide valuable services for the East Branch of the Chagrin River, including attenuating floodwaters, filtering/lessening nutrient loads, reducing siltation, and providing excellent wildlife habitat.

The majority of the Sunnybrook project will take place in 2020-21. Geauga Park District’s Natural Resource Management team will then continue invasive species management to ensure the project’s long-term success.

For more details information about either of these projects, or opportunities to photograph them when they are officially underway, feel free to contact Park Biologist Paul Pira directly at or 440-279-0812.

For more on Geauga Park District offerings, please call 440-286-9516 or visit Geauga Park District online via, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News