Euclid Creek Streamside Tree and Shrub Planting Program, 2015

In 2014, the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District received a $13,370 Lake Erie Protection Fund grant to implement the 2015 Euclid Creek Streamside Tree and Shrub Planting Program. Anyone who owns streamside (riparian) property in the Euclid Creek Watershed was eligible and encouraged to enroll. 109 people enrolled in the program and 90 people received free native trees and shrub seedlings to plant along their backyard streams, in order to establish forested riparian, or streamside, buffers.

Even though the program is over, one of the easiest and most important actions a streamside property owner can take is to leave trees, shrubs and vegetation next to the stream. Planting in your riparian area is a great way to get directly involved in the preservation of the Euclid Creek Watershed, which includes parts of Cuyahoga and Lake Counties. For information on planting in your riparian area, download the 'Woods for Waters' resource. Participants also received the following brochure detailing planting instruction, maintenance and protection from deer browsing.

The riparian area is the land alongside a stream or river that directly affects—or is affected by—the water. Healthy riparian buffers contain trees, shrubs, and other vegetation that protect both the stream and the streamside property. In the Euclid Creek Watershed, many of our riparian buffers have been cleared in order to make additional space for lawns, houses, fields and roads. Properly maintained riparian buffers stabilize stream banks, decrease peak storm flows, filter nutrients and sediment from storm water, provide essential habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife, and increase property values.

Through the program, brochures describing the importance of forested riparian buffers and explaining how to enroll in the program were sent to the 1,418 streamside property owners in the Cuyahoga and Lake County portions of the Euclid Creek Watershed. 109 riparian landowners (7.2%) enrolled in the program.

Participants received a variety of native shrub and tree seedlings to plant along the stream. The number of seedlings distributed was based on the length of stream on their property. Three distribution events were held in early May at the Lyndhurst Service Department for participants to pick up their plants. For every 50' of stream length, participants received one, 3 gallon tree and a mix of 11, 6-12" bare root seedlings. Plant species selected were all native and ideal for planting in a streamside in shady and sunny conditions, and were of a diverse mix of fast and slow growing species (Sycamore, Swamp White Oak, Pin Oak, Serviceberry, Eastern Ninebark, Silky Dogwood and Red-osier Dogwood). Ultimately, 429 3-gallon trees and 4,725 tree and shrub seedlings were distributed to 90 streamside property owners.

Those receiving seedlings own a combined 2.17 miles of stream, and enrolled 4.33 miles (12.7 acres) of 25 foot-wide riparian corridor in the program. 35 sites, or 40% of participants’ properties were inspected to ensure that trees and plants were planted, and 89% of those inspected were planted successfully along the streamside. Euclid Creek consists of roughly 30 miles of aboveground stream, of which ~7 miles is protected parkland with adequate riparian buffer, therefore this program helped restore 9.4% of Euclid Creek’s riparian area watershed wide.

The trees installed through this grant were run through the i-Tree program that provides a simple estimation of the benefits provided by trees. For this $13,700 grant-funded project, estimating a 20% survival rate for the seedlings and an 80% survival rate for the 3-gallon trees, over 1 million gallons of stormwater would be captured by the trees over 10 years of growth with an ecosystem services benefit of $11,836. At 20 years, the benefit of the trees would be in capturing over 4.5 million gallons of stormwater with an ecosystem services benefit of $49,930 – quite the return on this grant’s investment.

The distribution was made possible with the help of 28 volunteers who helped sort seedlings, cut tree protection fencing and distribute the plants to the enrollees. During the distribution events two forestry experts, Chris Vild, City of Beachwood Service Dept. and Chad Clink, Holden Arboretum’s Community Forester, gave presentations on proper siting, planting, maintenance and deer protection for the vegetation. We are immensely thankful to the City of Lyndhurst Service Department for providing the space for the tree storage and the distribution events, and for Lyndhurst City Arborist, Tom Morgan’s time and expertise at the events.

The Euclid Creek Streamside Tree and Shrub Planting Program is made possible through a grant from the Lake Erie Protection Fund, which is managed by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. The Lake Erie Protection Fund is supported by the citizens ofOhio through their purchase of the Lake Erie License Plate.