Cuyahoga River Bank Stabilization Program Continues

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District, has been busy lately working with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the river bank stabilization program.

According to the Corps, soil erosion and nonpoint source pollution affecting the Cuyahoga River has had downstream adverse environmental impacts and reduced water depths in harbors and shipping channels due to sediment loading.

To address the problems associated with runoff into the Great Lakes, the Congress established the Great Lakes Tributary Model (GLTM) program Section 516(e) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996.

This authority enabled USACE to develop tools to assist state and local agencies with the planning and implementation of measures for soil conservation, sedimentation and nonpoint source pollution prevention.

Collaboration between Cuyahoga Valley National Park and USACE Buffalo District has been incredibly productive in a very short time,” said Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Chief of Resource Management, Dr. Lisa Petit.The report generated by the GLTM team is a huge step forward to guide the park in implementing strategic floodplain restoration and bank stabilization projects over the next several years.”

The Cuyahoga River starts out in Geauga County, Ohio, and meanders 100 miles from start to finish. About one fifth of the river’s length is within the confines of Cuyahoga National Park. Park officials had installed previous bank stabilization projects before, but they only lasted a couple years. The USACE Buffalo District had agreed to do GLTM assessments from the portion of the Cuyahoga River stretching from the middle toward the northernmost part of the park. USACE Biologist Michael Voorhees was part of the assessment team, who both biked and kayaked along the river to accomplish the task.

We identified 12 sites where bank stabilization issues were evident,” said USACE Biologist Michael Voorhees. “Part of our assessment involved prioritizing the sites in terms of being able to reconnect the flood plains, by cutting out flood plain benches along the river in strategic places.” 

Voorhees and his team identified two sites that would be good candidates for bank stabilization and floodplain connection. Buffalo District cost engineers estimated how much the projects would cost. Assessments of this kind are normally cost-shared, with the local sponsor fronting 35% of the project while the federal government fronts the balance. However, the 516 program was a 100% federally funded program.