Creek Restoration in Ohio

Helps Lake Erie, Golf Course

Stabilizing Ward Creek’s shoreline with native plants reduces erosion and sediment build-up in Lake Erie, while improving the golf experience (and revenue) at a local golf course.


Ward Creek travels through the suburbs of Cleveland, meeting up with the Chagrin River, which then flows into Lake Erie. Sediment picked up along Ward Creek and the Chagrin River makes its way into Lake Erie, degrading fish habitat. Nutrients in the runoff also contribute to pollution in the lake and an imbalance in the food chain. A portion of Ward Creek notorious for flooding and eroding its stream banks also happens to run through the Lost Nation Golf Course in Willoughby, Ohio. The erosion isn’t good for Lake Erie, but it was also very disruptive to the golf course, which in a typical year would lose as many as 6 days of play due to flooding and damage—hurting the golf course economically. With help from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Lost Nation Golf Course reshaped Ward Creek to slow water flow and reduce flooding. Native species were planted along the sides of the creek to help absorb water and reduce erosion. The changes have improved business for the Lost Nation Golf Course, with almost no playable days lost due to flooding.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Erosion
  • Sediment build-up
  • Degradation of habitat


Creek with grasses planted around it.

Newly planted vegetation thrives along the bank of Ward Creek. The low shrubs and grasses keep visibility high while also reducing runoff into the creek. Credit: Chagrin River Watershed Partners.

Results and Accomplishments

With the addition of native plants such as lizard tail, blue flag iris, spicebush, red buckeye, and bottlebrush, the slopes leading to Ward Creek are now covered in vegetation that slows and absorbs rainfall. Rising waters during rains are also prevented from deeply eroding the banks since these native plants and trees have deep roots to anchor the soil in place. In total, 2,900 linear feet of stream bank was stabilized and 3 acres along the creek through the golf course was replanted with native species. Species were chosen for the environment, but also to compliment the aesthetic of the golf course. As the creek flows through the back nine holes of the golf course, planting low vegetation capable of anchoring the soil was an important consideration, so as not to impede visibility during rounds of golf. Thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, less sediment and runoff is entering nearby Lake Erie and golfers are less likely to be flooded out of the back nine.