Ecological restoration opportunities for Cleveland's lakefront

Report from a workshop sponsored by the BLUE Project

"If ecological restoration were a primary goal for Cleveland's lakefront, what should we do?"

That was the question posed to more than 20 local experts in lakefront ecology at a workshop organized by EcoCity Cleveland as part of the BLUE Project on December 11, 2002. The workshop brought together botanists, birders, fisheries biologists, water quality professionals, landscape architects, planners, and others to brainstorm possible ways to restore the ecological integrity of Cleveland's lakefront. The purpose was to contribute ideas to the city's lakefront planning process and to raise public awareness of the potential to bring nature back into the city.

The report from this workshop (download PDF file of the full report, 427 KB) summarizes the intriguing ideas generated. One of the ideas the construction of habitat cells along the harbor breakwall has already attracted media attention. Many of the other specific ideas also deserve serious consideration, including the transformation of grass areas in parks and highway interchanges into ecologically beneficial landscape features, such as "hummocky" terrain with small kettle holes and ephemeral wetlands.

But the report also recognizes that Cleveland may not be ready to undertake large-scale restoration projects. Too many funding, operational, and land use issues must be resolved. Thus, the report concludes with recommendations to improve the organizational "infrastructure" to plan, manage, and sustain restoration. These recommendations include:

  • Creation of a Lakefront Conservancy to advocate for restoration, coordinate planning, and raise funds for demonstration projects and ongoing management.
  • Ongoing consultation with experts in ecological restoration who can bring ideas for how lakefront habitat can contribute to the life of healthy city.
  • Development of protocols for restoring the landscape of the lakefront to native plant communities and habitats; and the training of park personnel in proper maintenance of healthy ecosystems.
  • Integration of alternative stormwater management techniques into the ongoing process of transportation planning and construction.

These recommendations are intended to stimulate a broader conversation about the relationship between ecological quality, economic sustainability, and quality of life. Cleveland is ready for this conversation. Certainly, the participants in this workshop (listed at the end of the report) expressed their interest in continuing to develop these ideas.


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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003



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Plain Dealer story about breakwall habitat

The Cleveland lakefront provides only scraps of degraded habitat today.


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