© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Fifteen Year, $7 Million Dollar Parks Restoration Project Nears Completion

photo of Mike Johnson
Mike Johnson, a biologist with Summit MetroParks, stands near Pond Brook in Twinsburg. The 15-year project to restore the river includes making parts of the river narrower, steeper or deeper to vary the areas for wildlife to thrive.
photo of Pond Brook restoration
The restoration project began in 2004 and is slated to be finished by the end of this summer.

Officials with Summit MetroParks are moving into the final phase of a $7 million project which will restore nearly five miles of waterways.

Pond Brook runs through Twinsburg’s east side and empties into Tinkers Creek, which is the largest tributary of the Cuyahoga River. In the late 1990s, the MetroParks began acquiring what had historically been about 100 acres of farmland around the brook, which is now Liberty Park.

Mike Johnson, Chief of Conservation at Summit MetroParks, says it was mostly farmland which had not actually been farmed for years.

“In the entire length of the corridor, it had been ditched, drained, dredged and was pretty much devoid of life. We called it a brook, but it wasn't a brook at all. It was a ditch. And we saw this huge opportunity to restore a natural aquatic feature.”

Johnson said since the first phase of the project was completed in 2006, native species such as darters, minnows and otters have returned to the area. The parks now have a great deal of programming related to the otters.

Ana Burns is with Davey Resource Group, which has coordinated the project and will plant new vegetation when it’s done this summer. She said the work happening in Pond Brook affects all of Northeast Ohio.

“Ultimately, everything flows downstream and ends up in the Cuyahoga River and dumps into Lake Erie and what you do here has impacts further downstream for water quality and habitat and flooding.”

The restoration includes making parts of the river narrower, steeper and/or deeper to vary the water velocity, which creates diverse areas for wildlife to thrive.

Chuck Hauber, an engineer with the parks, said part of that work includes creating meanders, which “take a straight ditch and makes it a squiggly stream.”

Work on the final two-mile section should be complete by the end of summer. Ken Christensen, biologist with Davey Resource Group, adds that vegetation – such as River Birch and American Basswood -- will be planted into next spring.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.