Project restores natural refuge

in midst of urban area

Restoring the Lacustrine Refuge, a four-acre wetland adjacent to a Lake Erie tributary in Cleveland, created wildlife habitat, reduced polluted runoff and is expected to generate recreational opportunities valued at $2.4 million — nearly twice the project cost.

Description

The Lacustrine Refuge is a four-acre wetland adjacent to Euclid Creek, in Cleveland’s Wildwood Lakefront State Park. Euclid Creek is a heavily urbanized stream that drains 24 square miles of land in Cleveland before flowing into Lake Erie.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened a portion of the creek and altered its flow as part of an urban flood control project in the 1980s. Dredge spoils from a nearby marina were reportedly dumped in low-lying areas at the refuge nearly a century ago, damaging valuable coastal wetlands. The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District managed the effort to restore the refuge and Euclid Creek. A coalition of local agencies worked together to return Euclid Creek to its natural channel, remove about 20,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils from wetlands in the refuge and remove acres of invasive Japanese knotweed and other non-native plants. The project restored an important coastal wetland that offers new habitat for wildlife, filters pollutants out of water headed to Lake Erie and helps control flooding and stream bank erosion. The refuge also gives urban residents a chance to experience a vibrant natural area teeming with birds and amphibians that have long been absent from the area.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Loss of wetlands
  • Lack of wildlife habitat
  • Polluted runoff
  • Invasive plant species

LACUSTRINE REFUGE RESTORATION

Overlooking a marsh

Wetlands, like the one pictured above, provide important habitat for native fish and wildlife, while also filtering pollutants from water. Credit: Courtney Celley U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Results and Accomplishments

The project restored 1,100 linear feet of Euclid Creek, returned the creek to its natural channel and restored four acres of coastal wetlands near Lake Erie. The project also created new recreational opportunities and advanced efforts to the get the Cuyahoga River removed from a list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.