CUYAHOGA FALLS: The city is seeking volunteers to help plant trees on Saturday as the final touches are applied to the eco-friendly restoration of Kelsey Creek.
The $282,000 project has rebuilt 1,000 feet of the stream, a Cuyahoga River tributary, plus 1,800 feet of stream banks in Kennedy Park off Munroe Falls Avenue.
Up to 50 volunteers are needed from 9 a.m. to noon to help plant 77 trees to create a new riparian forest. Most of the trees are 3 to 6 feet tall.
The tree planting is a partnership with Biohabitats Inc., the Schnee Learning Center and the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization’s Cuyahoga ReLeaf.
The trees were provided by a grant from the Alliance for Community Trees and the CSX Trees for Tracks programs.
To volunteer, call 216-241-2414, ext. 610, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An additional planting of 200 trees and shrubs is planned for along the stream in early November.
The biggest problem along Kelsey Creek was that the stream had undercut its banks, creating a potentially dangerous situation, said Cuyahoga Falls spokeswoman Becky McCleary.
Some of the banks were steep, 6 to 8 feet high, and people atop the banks could have toppled into the stream because the erosion made the banks unstable and risky, she said.
The bank movement was also causing infrastructure problems with park facilities and natural gas pipelines that cross the park.
Construction began in late June and was completed in August. The stream bed was elevated and a new, lower floodplain was excavated.
The stream was rebuilt by adding rocks to create riffles and pools. That will enable the stream to better handle the flow of storm water from the Chapel Hill Mall area and parts of Cuyahoga Falls, Munroe Falls and Tallmadge. The watershed is small, covering 3 square miles.
About 33 percent of the watershed is paved or impervious surfaces — meaning the water cannot soak into the soil and runs away. This can cause problems on streams like Kelsey Creek.
Ten riffles — cobble placed in the stream bed — were built in the stream. They create habitat for fish and aquatic insects. The water then slows as it enters the pools below the riffles.
A series of rock steps, made of large boulders placed across the width of the stream, help dissipate stream energy in high water.
In big storms, the creek can overflow into the newly made flood plain that is covered with grasses and other native plants. This will minimize erosion and reduce flooding problems downstream.
The stream’s down cutting or erosion got worse after a small dam on the creek near Munroe Falls Avenue was removed.
The result is a gentler Kelsey Creek, named after early settler Francis Kelsey, who built the first dam on the Cuyahoga River in 1812.
The banks were rebuilt to eliminate the steep slopes and to create a more-natural flood plain with native plants. The banks are now gently sloping.
Coir matting, a natural fibrous fabric made from coconut fiber, was installed along the rebuilt banks to help prevent erosion.
Live willow and dogwood branches were planted on the banks. Rocks were hauled in and installed to stabilize the bank in a few spots.
Work was undertaken to keep invasive species out of the stream corridor during and after construction.
The project drew rave reviews from two park walkers: Steve Colton, 78, and Dick Eberly, 74, both of Cuyahoga Falls.
“It’s a whole new stream,” said Colton of Kelsey Creek. “It looks great.”
The project was designed by Biohabitats and was constructed by Meadville Land Services. It was landscaped by Maryland-based Ecological Restoration & Management.
The city of Cuyahoga Falls got an $89,877 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to cover half of the construction cost. The city paid an equal share. There were additional design and engineering costs incurred by the city.
The city intends to use Kelsey Creek as a land lab for school students to learn about streams, McCleary said.
For more information, go to: https://cfo.cityofcf.com/web/departments/service-directors-office/restoration-kelsey-creek.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.