In 2015, Tinker’s Creek Watershed Partners (TCWP) was awarded a $50,000 Cuyahoga AOC Habitat Restoration Project Planning grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Funds were used to create plans for habitat restoration projects in the watershed. The projects listed below are the ones that were selected for design and which TCWP will be seeking funding to implement.
Bear Creek Continuation Project
Part of the AOC funding project within the Watershed Action Plan (WAP), a consultant from BioHabitats, Inc. was hired to restore part of Bear Creek. Bear Creek drains a watershed of about 450 acres and is comprised of developments that are residential and light commercial alongside woodlands and open spaces. Altered hydrology and damaged stormwater outfalls had changed the character of the creek, deepening the stream bed and leaving steep streambanks instead of a broad floodplain. Streams in this condition cannot store water and allow it to infiltrate into the soil, and they cannot support the rich diversity of invertebrates and animals that inhabit healthy streams. To address the existing issues, the second phase of the project first repaired a damaged stormwater outfall. The conceptual design also redirected Bear Creek away from the existing overhead utilities, created floodplain wetlands in the old channel, and created a shallow “floodplain bench” to provide structural diversity, shallow habitat, and a place to slow and store water during storm events. In addition, the design re-established native riparian woody vegetation to create a natural vegetated buffer and to protect the stream.
Bedford Heights Service Department Project
This project was part of a subgroup of projects funded from the AOC Grant that were not currently within the WAP. It was investigated by Environmental Design Group (EDG). The perennial unnamed tributary to Tinker’s Creek is located east of Interstate 271 and north of Solon Road. The tributary drains into another larger tributary that then drains to the main stem of Tinker’s Creek just south of Solon Road, downstream of stream mile 8. The project starts approximately 320 linear feet (along the channel) from the confluence of this tributary with Tinker’s Creek. The project extends approximately 720 linear feet east along the existing stream channel. The Bedford Heights Waste Water Treatment Plant outfall discharges to this tributary north of Solon Road. The tributary drains approximately 442.4 acres and has approximately 17.4% impervious surfaces (USGS Streamstats). The project restored 700 linear feet of entrenched stream and constructed a ½-acre floodplain wetland. This project significantly reduced sediment and nutrient input into Tinker’s Creek. A portion, about 150 linear feet, of this stream had extremely steep slopes which will require slope stabilization and reforestation. In this area, the stream has historically flooded properties, further exacerbating sediment transport, habitat degradation, and oil/grease runoff from the flooded bus garage.
Glenwillow Stream and Floodplain Wetland Restoration
This project was part of a subgroup of projects funded from the AOC Grant that were not currently within the WAP and were investigated by Environmental Design Group (EDG). Tinker’s Creek, south of Pettibone Road, had been straightened to allow for a landfill. The straightening of this portion of the creek significantly impacted the natural flow regimes and ecological habitat. Tinker’s Creek is naturally meandering, which allows for the dynamic scour and deposition of sediment. Straightening and channelizing the stream eliminated those natural stream dynamics, ultimately affecting aquatic life. Invasive plant species thrived throughout this stretch of stream. The lack of trees and native vegetation throughout this portion of the stream caused higher temperatures, which impairs native aquatic life and encourages algae growth. EDG proposed to improve normal flows through the area by creating a two-stage channel which allows increased velocities without significantly compromising discharge capacity for larger flow events. EDG also proposed removing invasive species in the area and replacing them with trees and native shrubs to help provide shade for the stream. It was also proposed to increase floodplain storage at the downstream section along the west bank where development had encroached upon the natural floodplain.
Hudson Mainstem Project (Streetsboro WTTP Project)
The consultant hired for this project was Davey Resource Group. During the site visit, Davey Resource Group biologists and restoration ecologists inspected the creek and riparian corridor to identify existing habitat and locate features to enhance its overall physical condition. The stream was characterized by calculating the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) at several locations along its 3,100-foot length. Davey also documented the bank condition along the creek to identify areas where the bank may need to be stabilized in order to minimize the amount of silt that is eroding into the stream channel. In addition to evaluating the mainstem of Tinker’s Creek, Davey also identified those topographic features that may be inhibiting the stream from interacting with its floodplain. The mapped floodplain of Tinker’s Creek on the Streetsboro WWTP property was extensive. However, dredge spoil piles that exist along the east bank of the creek may have been inhibiting the stream’s ability to discharge onto the floodplain at lower flow elevations. Extensive wetlands also existed on portions of the property. Conceptual designs focused restoration efforts on 575 linear feet of Tinker’s Creek in an area where soil has been sidecast and habitat assessment scores were low. This included removing sidecast soil along the channel to provide a reconnection to the floodplain, installing grade control structures and partial weirs within the channel, planting of native woody vegetation in the riparian zone, and controlling invasive, non-native vegetation.
Streetsboro 303 Project
This project was part of the AOC funding that was already within the WAP and preselected for conceptual design. The consultant hired for this project was EnviroScience, Inc. The main stem of Tinker’s Creek flows from the south to the north under State Route 303 through a culvert. Tinker’s Creek had been ditched and channelized through the entire project reach and over much of its headwaters primarily for drainage and development. In the project area, Tinker’s Creek was moderately incised with streambank heights approaching 5 feet in most areas. Low gradient streams such as these require regular access to wide floodplains due to fine particles composing the streambanks. Confinement of stream energy through incision leads to erosion and massive channel adjustment. A wide floodplain existed in this area as a large wetland community but it was inaccessible during frequent storm events. Currently the wetland exhibited signs of degradation by drainage and invasive species on both sides of SR 303. The conceptual designs for this project included creating a new channel to narrow the stream and to add natural meanders and connection to the floodplain and wetlands. A natural streambed with riffles and invasive species control also helped improve flow and habitats within the stream and surrounding wetlands.
Streetsboro SR 14 Drainage Ditch Project
This project was part of the AOC funding that was already within the WAP and preselected for conceptual design. The consultant hired for this project was EnviroScience, Inc. Headwater streams are vital to the health and water quality of Tinker’s Creek. This restoration contained two tributaries located on the south side of Route 14 behind the Home Depot in the City of Streetsboro. Both streams emptied into a man-made retention pond. Each of the streams were functioning poorly, displaying bank erosion and down cutting. EnviroScience, Inc. proposed conceptual designs that removed the berms that separate the streams from their floodplains and added natural curves or meanders back to the streams. This aided in stream functioning by restoring the streams ability to transport sediment. Controlling invasive species in the wetland also helped improve habitat.
This project was part of a subgroup of projects that were not currently within the WAP and was investigated by Environmental Design Group (EDG). EDG performed stream surveys and created a conceptual design for restoring function to the stream. This perennial unnamed tributary to Tinker’s Creek is located within Twinsburg City School district owned property, just north of Officer Joshua T. Miktarian Memorial Pkwy near Twinsburg High School. The tributary drains approximately 493 acres, which consists of approximately 40% impervious surfaces. The project restored 150 linear feet of eroded streambank and degraded stream channel. This project significantly reduced sediment and nutrient input into Tinker’s Creek while providing habitat.
Bedford Heights Property Acquisition
A Clean Ohio Fund grant was awarded to the City of Bedford Heights to purchase this 17-acre parcel. The parcel is forested with 850 linear feet of stream tributary to Tinker’s Creek. The parcel connects to an existing park in the city and could potentially provide additional walking trails. TCWP provided support for the grant application, in particular riparian planting. TCWP, along with Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC), coordinated a planting event where 500 potted trees and shrubs as well as 400 live stake plants were installed. Over 20 volunteers assisted in the planting event, including volunteers from the City of Bedford Heights, Cleveland Metroparks, and WRLC.
Warrensville Heights Country Lane Project
This project is a land acquisition project off of Emery Road in Warrensville Heights. The property has 3 acres of emergent and forested wetlands with numerous vernal pools scattered throughout. In addition, the parcels contain 240 linear feet of Hawthorne Creek and 215 linear feet of intermittent headwater stream channel for a total of 455 linear feet of waterways. The remaining acreage contains second growth beech-maple forest and mature red oak-hickory forest. Permanent preservation of these properties and the associated streams and uplands improved downstream waters by capturing sediment, treating runoff, and protecting important habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Protection of these parcels ensured that the ecological functions provided by the habitats will stay intact and continue to provide beneficial physical, biological, and chemical functions for this watershed. TCWP submitted a Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund application for the purchase of this parcel.