In 2016, Cleveland Metroparks restored 200 linear feet of headwater stream and enhanced 3 acres of wetlands at a former grass airfield landing strip within South Chagrin Reservation. This project permanently protects the primary headwater reaches of Sulphur Springs, a coldwater habitat tributary to the Chagrin River, and restores valuable wetland and headwater stream habitat.
The project contractor removed an old failing 12-inch metal culvert that carried most of the water through the old airstrip and installed live willow and dogwood stakes to stabilize the stream banks. Numerous small wetland pools were created to mimic the natural pre-development hydrology, with habitat features like small hummocks and hollows. After only a few months, various frogs started laying their eggs in the wetland pockets.
To accelerate the return of the original forested canopy, large caliper native trees were planted throughout the old airfield. As the trees mature, their canopies will fill the existing gap and provide much-needed shading and cooling on the stream and wetland areas. Additionally, smaller potted and bare-root trees and shrubs, as well as native seed and thousands of herbaceous plugs, were installed throughout the project, enhancing wildlife habitat and plant diversity for beneficial insects.
Volunteers from Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Volunteer Program assisted with placing rodent protection tubes on the planted trees and shrubs, and a large portion of the project area is fenced off from deer to optimize the regrowth of the restored airfield.
Chagrin River Watershed Partners co-wrote the Ohio EPA 319 grant proposal that partially funded the project and assisted Cleveland Metroparks with a request for proposals, contractor selection, design plan review, construction oversight, grant reports, and project education and outreach.
This project was financed in part 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.