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CVNP wants your input on efforts to control Cuyahoga River erosion in the park

Cuyahoga shifts.jpg
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The Cuyahoga River has shifted since the 1950s (left) and now erosion is threatening several points along the Scenic Railroad and Towpath Trail. CVNP officials want your input by Monday, January 10, about their plans to combat the erosion.

There’s one week left for the public to weigh-in on a project to combat erosion along the Cuyahoga River in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Cuyahoga River has slowly shifted over the past eight decades – and now it’s threatening the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at two points and the Towpath Trail at a half-dozen more spots. Rafia Mileti is one of the project’s engineers, and says the erosion is being caused by several factors.

“To some degree, it's nature -- but it is occurring at more quick rates due to the amount of flooding that we're seeing. Three of the top 10 historic crests on the river have occurred since 2015. So, as flooding increases, this becomes more and more of an issue.”

Mileti says plans will be drawn up over the next year, and work is slated to begin in 2023. She says there’s a variety of methods they’ll use.

“We try to be the least invasive and use the most natural methods that we can. To some degree, we will be using stone rip rap near the base so you will see a stone face. But we are vegetating it to increase the growth. At some sites, right now, you might not see any vegetation just due to the amount of erosion. Ideally, these will appear naturalized to some degree. In the most intensive case, we will be using a soldier pile wall, which is a vertical stone wall in areas where we don't have the room -- and we have site constraints, and the velocity of the river is so fast in that area -- that we need to use something that will withstand that flow. But there are a variety of methods that we're using across the eight sites.”

But what happens if the work is postponed? Mileti says, "ultimately, our infrastructure could be threatened. The Towpath Trail and railroad are two good examples, but we'd also be adding a lot more sediment into the river, which impacts water quality and habitat. So, we really want to minimize that to the furthest extent that we can and try to address that now rather than later."

The public input period closes on January 10. You can leave a comment here. And on this page are several interactive maps showing the river’s movement over the years.

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