Central Lake Erie Basin Collaborative

Working Together for Healthy Watersheds and Lake Erie

In Northern Ohio, we are all connected to Lake Erie. The Lake provides drinking water for millions of people, drives our economy, provides habitat for wildlife and enhances our quality of life. Our Great Lake starts with each of us in our backyards, businesses and communities. What we do upstream affects what happens downstream, preventing or contributing to problems like flooding, erosion, water pollution and degraded habitat. Local watershed organizations play a key role in connecting people and communities to solve these problems. 


Chagrin River Watershed Partners brought together watershed organizations in 2014 to explore how we could work together on a larger scale to expand our capability to address threats to local waterways and Lake Erie. The Watershed Partners worked with The Institute for Conservation Leadership to lead a series of talks among organizations and pilot a shared services model with generous support from the George Gund Foundation. This grew into the Central Lake Erie Basin Collaborative, a network of watershed organizations and initiatives working together to protect and restore natural areas and promote stormwater solutions for healthy streams and Lake Erie. 

In Ohio, Central Lake Erie Basin watersheds extend from the Huron River in Erie County to the Conneaut River at the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line. The Collaborative and its participating organizations serve 300 communities in parts of 16 northeast Ohio counties.

Participating organizations rely upon the network as a learning community and for technical assistance and project-based partnerships that help drive progress toward watershed goals. Supported by our funding partners, each participating organization receives technical assistance from regional service providers, including CRWP’s team of nine professionals and two Northern Ohio Watershed Corps members. Organizations call on us for a broad array of technical support for projects to support healthy ecosystems, clean water and connect people with our rivers and Lake Erie. Our services include watershed planning, assessing habitats, grant-writing, protecting natural areas and greenspace, administrative support, education and outreach, training and capacity-building, and helping communities adopt and enforce watershed protection codesThrough the Collaborative we also enhance capacity and fill gaps where there are no paid staff dedicated to watershed work. 


The Collaborative also fosters new partnerships, provides opportunities for watershed groups to share information and learn from one another, and diversifies support to drive progress toward protection and restoration goals. Since July 2018, Collaborative organizations have:   

  • Engaged volunteers that have donated 8,515 hours of service to stream cleanups, riparian plantings, rain garden maintenance, storm drain marking, or invasive species control.  
  • Protected 832.3 acres of land, including 202.75 acres of wetland through conservation easements, land acquisition, or adoption of riparian/wetland setbacks.  
  • Protected 57,685 linear feet of streams protected through conservation easements, land acquisition, or adoption of riparian/wetland setbacks.  
  • Restored 9,270 linear feet of stream or Lake Erie coast and 6.8 acres of wetland.  
  • Enhanced 57.15 acres of land and 8,075 linear feet of stream through plantings or invasive species removal, including 17.42 acres of wetland.  


In addition, participating organizations have leveraged over $48 million for natural area protection and restoration, stream corridor enhancements, trail development, green stormwater infrastructure, and regional technical services since 2016.  


Since 2014, Chagrin River Watershed Partners has continued leading and expanding the Collaborative by forming funding partnerships with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the George Gund Foundationthe U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the William Bingham Foundation, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer DistrictOhio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal ManagementGreat Lakes Commission Green Infrastructure Champions Program, and the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. These grants are matched by participating watershed organizations, the Cleveland Foundation, Lake County Stormwater Management Department, ArcelorMittal, and other partners. 


Chagrin River Watershed Partners is proud to lead this innovative partnership. Together, with our Collaborative partners, we are working toward healthy communities, healthy watersheds, and a healthy Lake Erie. More information about the Central Lake Erie Basin Collaborative can be found at http://centrallakeerie.org/.