BUFFALO, NY - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District (USACE) substantially completed the Stanford Run ecosystem restoration project located within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) in Summit County, Ohio, in early January 2020.
The Buffalo District restored nearly 1,200 feet of a small stream within CVNP named Stanford Run under the original Stanford Run Restoration Project contract awarded to Ryba Marine Construction Co. The District also awarded a second, follow-on contract to Armitage Architecture, P.C. at the end of September 2019 to continue restoration on the channel, which restored an additional 1,000 lineal feet.
"We're happy to protect our shared environment along with our project partners," said Russell Brandenburg, USACE Buffalo District Project Manager. "Primary work specified in the contract is complete, but minor work such as additional grading and seeding at the disposal area will resume in the spring."
The project is the result of ongoing collaboration between USACE and the National Park Service within the region. The Buffalo District has entered into a multi-year Memorandum of Agreement with the CVNP to provide various engineering services, requested by the CVNP.
"We're already seeing fish swimming in the restored creek and beavers working upstream of the restoration area. Sand and gravel in the bottom of the creek, as well as streamside vegetation, will provide structure and shade to support insects and other in-stream creatures. Overall, the project looks like a success so far," stated Chris Davis, a biologist stationed at CVNP.
Stanford Run became degraded when sediments built up in the floodplain and blocked a stone culvert under the historic Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Eventually, the stream channel filled in upstream of the blockage, which backed up sediments in another culvert under Stanford Road. The blocked culvert at Stanford Road diverted flow north into an adjacent watershed, where it caused massive erosion and habitat degradation.
Ryba Marine Construction Co. installed a new box culvert under the Towpath Trail that is sized to accommodate present-day storm flows and restored a major portion of the stream, including planting native trees and shrubs along the stream banks. Armitage Architecture, P.C. continued stream restoration and removed sediment from the blocked culvert under Stanford Road, allowing stream flow to return to the channel. Restoring Stanford Run to its historic alignment should allow natural processes to take over and supports CVNP's mission to preserve and protect the natural, scenic and historic values of the park. This is the largest habitat restoration project completed so far at CVNP.
The Erie Canal Towpath is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a recreational trail through the park. Additionally, an historic stone arch culvert structure is located on the Towpath within the project area. Both of these historic features will be preserved.
"There's a possibility we will execute another option in the contract for additional work," said Brandenburg.
Funding for this restoration work was provided over two years through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.