Beecher’s Brook Stream Restoration at North Chagrin Reservation
Beecher’s Brook is a headwater tributary to the Chagrin River that flows through Cleveland Metroparks North Chagrin Reservation and drains a total watershed area of 1.23 square miles. The site of the restoration of this tributary is located adjacent to the Wilson Mills Trailhead. Before restoration, the streambanks were steep and severely eroding, causing increased sediment loads in the river and, in turn, pollution of high-quality water resources downstream of the project site. The bank height along this reach of river was between 8 and 14 feet with severe slumping, undercut banks, and exposed roots. Additionally, the man-made drop structure within the culvert at the project site prevented the upstream migration of fish.
Chagrin River Watershed Partners assisted Cleveland Metroparks in obtaining an Ohio EPA Section 319(h) grant for $181,530 to restore the stream. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland Metroparks, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Trout Club also contributed funding toward the project. Funding supported 700 linear feet of streambank restoration using natural channel design and bioengineering and included the restoration of fish passage through this reach of stream. In February of 2020, Cleveland Metroparks awarded a contract to the RiverReach Construction team to design and construct the restoration at Beecher’s Brook. The project was completed in the summer of 2021.
The design-build team stabilized the severely eroding streambanks using bank stabilization rock and grade controls. This stretch of Beecher’s Brook is located in a relatively confined valley of moderate gradient streams, shaded corridors, and flashy flows. Therefore, it was necessary to use rock to provide the structural resistance to erosion. In addition to the rock, salvaged logs helped to provide the grade control and create habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates.
Prior to restoration, fish communities upstream and downstream of an existing drop structure were assessed in 2008 and 2017, respectively. The assessments found that the diversity of fish species upstream of the drop structure was extremely low while the abundance and diversity of fish species downstream of the drop structure was exceptional. This contrast of fish diversity could be directly attributed to the drop structure which acted as a barrier to fish passage as it was impassable to most headwater stream-dwelling species. The design-build team removed the manmade drop structure and raised the stream bed elevation to expand the floodplain and enable fish passage. The existing undersized culvert was also removed and replaced with a 60-foot bridge and natural channel. In addition to allowing fish passage and improving the upstream diversity of fish species, the newly installed bridge will also improve in-stream habitat.
The project also restored the stream’s connection to its floodplain and its riparian habitat to reduce sediment and nutrient loads. By reconnecting the floodplains in this reach and thereby providing overbank storage of flow, the volume and energy will be reduced in the channel and help prevent future erosion. A mix of grasses and wildflowers were also planted throughout the floodplain areas to help restore the riparian area and improve cover and habitat along the banks.
Chagrin River Watershed Partners partnered with Cleveland Metroparks on this project and assisted with grant writing, consultant selection, and education and outreach.
Funders and Partners:
This project was financed in part or totally through a grant from the State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act.
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