With its ball fields, swimming pool, and tennis courts, Kerruish Park in northeast Ohio is a recreational oasis in a landscape bordered by residential development and roadways. It also holds great potential as an ecological corridor, as it includes a densely forested area containing a large, perennial stream known as Mill Creek.
At some point, in an attempt to control stormwater, an earthen dam and a detention basin were created. Work to further increase the basin’s storage was completed in the early 2000s. However, sedimentation, woody debris, poor water quality and lack of fish passage through the reach have been an ongoing problem.
After developing a conceptual design to restore 2,000 linear feet of the creek and its riparian area, Biohabitats collaborated with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Mill Creek Watershed Partnership, West Creek Preservation Committee, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and City of Cleveland division of water pollution control to develop a schematic 30% design. The funding for the project was generously supplied by the Ohio EPA’s 2015 Cuyahoga Area of Concern (AOC) Habitat Restoration Project Planning Grant through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Fund.
The restoration will improve fish passage over two sewer lines which are acting as lowhead dams, provide more stormwater storage by reconnecting the stream to a floodplain, and improve water quality through increasing stormwater and sediment storage on the floodplain, groundwater/surface water interactions, and instream habitat diversity. The restoration also allows the wooded stream to become a safer and more engaging and accessible recreational feature in the park.
With a schematic design in hand, the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership and their partners can now further explore funding opportunities to help bring the restoration closer to reality.