On June 3, as part of my internship at Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (CSWCD), I went out and monitored two conserved sites at Redstone Run in Richmond Heights and on Bishop/Hawthorne Rds. in Highland Heights. The sites are owned by the West Creek Conservancy with a Conservation Easement held and monitored by CSWCD. Both projects were funded with Clean Ohio funding.
Native trees, plants, and bushes were planted in these areas in an effort to restore the understory and canopy in the area, and in doing so, help increase riparian buffer zones in the watershed. Some of these native plants included gray’s sedge, spicebush, jewelweed, grasses, goldenrod, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, and sensitive fern.
The riparian zone (streamside vegetated area) plays an important role in the watershed by absorbing, retaining, and processing excess stormwater and pollutants before they get into tributaries which lead to Lake Erie. The vegetation will also increase the biodiversity of the area and increase habitat for wildlife. Monitoring the progression of the vegetation is important to see whether further management action needs to be taken and where. For instance, some of the trees planted at Redstone Run have leading branches that aren’t leafing. The Redstone Run location’s vegetation also needs some maintenance work to help expose the tree root flare at the base of the tree to allow for proper nutrient absorption and gas exchange. Thistles and phragmites, weeds and invasive plants, also need to be sprayed and/or taken out. The Bishop Rd. location was showing good progress, with vegetation thriving and spreading naturally in the area. However, there is Garlic Mustard, another invasive plant, which needs to be weeded out.
The monitoring provided insight into the progress of the restoration projects, and identified goals of where to take action. Getting volunteers involved in the stewardship and management of these two sites will be a huge benefit in achieving these goals.
Blog Author: Annie Roberto, CSWCD Watershed Program Summer Intern