A project to restore important sections of the Griswold Creek, a tributary of the Chagrin River, is designed to prevent flooding and erosion, according to experts who were supervising activities last week.

The work is being done in the Geauga Park District’s Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Park in Chester Township and will curb possible damage downstream and enhance the habitat for aquatic life in the creek whose water eventually reaches Lake Erie.

Geauga Park District biologist Paul Pira said the goal of the project is to restore the connectivity of the stream to its flood plain. The park district worked with the Chagrin River Watershed Partners on the project.

Geauga Park District was awarded a grant of up to $260,765 for the Griswold Creek stream and wetland restoration project. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds storm water and stream restoration projects through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA considers giving grants to projects that reduce pollutants in a watershed. The Griswold Creek project is restoring about 1,345 linear feet of stream, Mr. Pira said, and is stabilizing stream banks for erosion control and enforcing the riparian zone along the stream with plantings.

Last week, students from West Geauga High School visited the site to observe organisms living in the stream. They used kick nets to search for fish and macroinvertebrates with their teacher Mike Sustin.

He noted that his students got involved with some biologic surveys of the project site. The project goal was to raise the Griswold Creek bed to help reunite the stream with its flood plain, he noted. In a park setting, healthy streams are supposed to flood periodically and the nutrients the stream delivers to the surrounding forest or meadow are vitally important, Mr. Sustin said.

Last fall, the students worked with a field survey team from Davey Resource Group to assess the current situation. The plan is to provide assistance to both Davey Resource Group and the park district in monitoring the area for several years to come, he said.

“We collected data that was entered into tables and used to determine the overall health of the project site,” Mr. Sustin said. “We used several indices provided as standard metrics for ecosystem monitoring from the Ohio EPA.”

In addition to doing some planting, as well as bird and mammal identification, they also did a sample of the fish species in the stream using an electro-fishing technique, he said. The four students are in the Advanced Placement environmental science class.

He noted that he has a good relationship with the Geauga Park District, doing projects with his students every year. “It is great that the park thinks to include the students and to reach out to them,” he said.

John Oros, executive director of the Geauga Park District, said Griswold Creek has been entrenched and carries the silt load downstream. The current project will allow the stream to access the wetlands reducing the impact downstream, he explained.

The project will help other areas including Russell Township, he said, by slowing the velocity of the flowing water and minimizing the silt traveling downstream.

Mr. Pira noted that Newbury riffles, consisting of sandstone and rock, were built which are helping to allow the stream to spill out to the flood plain so it doesn’t erode the banks.

Davey Resource Group has been doing the measurements and assessments on the stream while the West Geauga High School students are working with Mr. Pira to do the biological survey of the stream. Davey Resource Group partnered with Marks Construction on the project construction.

Kim Brewster, deputy director of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners, said the students are doing post project monitoring at the site and learning firsthand about stream restoration.

Some of the native trees planted by Davey Resource Group along the stream include willows and swamp roses, she said. The project focused on the aquatic habitat within the park and benefits downstream on the Griswold Creek and the Chagrin River and eventually Lake Erie, Ms. Brewster said.

“It will allow the river to spread out into the flood plain and reduce the flooding and erosion on the stream as well as downstream. Tributaries of the Chagrin River are impacted by storm water because of impervious surfaces in the drainage area, including parking lots, roof tops and roads and any hard surfaces where water cannot soak into the ground, she said.

Davey Resource Group, selected by the park district last year, did the ecological surveys and the permitting process and worked on the design and engineering, Ms. Brewster noted. Stream restoration was completed this spring and included tree planting. Vernal pools were installed, which provide seasonal flood plain pools and habitat for amphibians.

They filter out pollutants from the stream and when the stream flow gets high, it has access to the vernal pools, and the water infiltrates to the ground, filtering out sediment and nutrients, Ms. Brewster said.

She noted that the Chagrin River Watershed Partners works with the Geauga Park District to investigate opportunities for stream and wetland restoration and funding through grants. The park district is a member community of the watershed partners organization.

Alicia Beattie, associate director of the watershed partners, said the group realized there were erosion and other problems with Griswold Creek, a cold water habitat that is ground fed.

“They like cold water habitat and we want to make sure the water quality is good,” she said.

In addition to the Griswold Creek project, the park district is receiving donated trees and shrubs to plant in the parks. The first planting was May 7 at the Rookery. The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Maple Country Chapter donated 250 seedling trees and shrubs, said Adam Hollobaugh, treasurer of the local chapter. High school students did the plantings.

The tree planting is part of the federation’s work of habitat enhancing restoration for animals and birds, Mr. Hollobaugh said. The trees for the Rookery include a variety of trees, such as wild cherry, black gum, white and burr oak and several types of dogwood and service berry trees, he noted.

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