Stream and riparian restoration work on Sunnybrook completed in April 2021 at Geauga Park District’s Sunnybrook Preserve at 12474 Heath Rd., Chesterland. Five hundred linear feet of stream was improved through this effort. Two acres of wetland and riparian forest were enhanced by planting native vegetation and removing invasive species. The project site can be viewed from the pedestrian bridge on the main trail at Sunnybrook Preserve. The public can register for a tour of the site with Geauga Park District and Chagrin River Watershed Partners on June 24 at 1 p.m.
Sunnybrook is a coldwater stream in the headwaters of the East Branch of the Chagrin River watershed. Sensitive fish species such as Redside Dace (Clinostomus elongatus) and Southern Redbelly Dace (Chrosomus erythrogaster) and rare species such as the Northern Clearwater Crayfish (Faxonius propinquus) inhabit Sunnybrook. Coldwater streams are fed by cold groundwater. The shade from streamside trees helps keep the water cold. Letting rainwater soak in close to where it lands, such as through rain gardens or permeable pavements, also helps to recharge groundwater and protect coldwater habitat streams. This project improved water and habitat quality for Sunnybrook by reducing streambank erosion.
In 2019, Chagrin River Watershed Partners (CRWP) assisted Geauga Park District with successfully applying for a grant from the State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act to partially fund this restoration project. Geauga Park District hired the design-build team of EnviroScience, GPD Group and RiverReach Construction to improve the habitat at this site. CRWP helped with grant administration and project outreach and education.
The restoration approach combined enhancement of aquatic habitat, treatment of invasive plants, revegetation, and streambank stabilization using woody vegetation, branch layering, regrading to a gentler slope, and stacked rock. The design-build team used a raise-grade approach to build up the riffles to reattach the stream to its floodplain. In some areas, excavation was used to create a new floodplain bench. Buried rock vanes were used to guard against future channel incision or migration around riffles. Good floodplain connection dissipates energy and provides flood storage, which helps to decrease downstream flooding and erosion. Restoration work occurred fall 2020 through spring 2021.
Before restoration, Sunnybrook near the pedestrian bridge suffered from erosion and siltation, lingering effects from a dam built in the 1930s impaired aquatic habitat. Nonnative invasive species including common reed (Phragamites australis), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and European black alder (Alnus glutinosa) degraded riparian wetlands.
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 (CRWP) 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’ 36 members, including the Geauga Park District, represent over 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 CRWP, visit www.crwp.org.
For more information, contact:
Paul Pira, Park Biologist, Geauga Park District, 440-279-0812, firstname.lastname@example.org
Keely Davidson-Bennett, Senior Project Manager, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Inc. (440) 975-2870 *1003 email@example.com