Feds give $550K for creek cleanup
A federal grant of $550,000 will help pay for environmental restoration efforts along Willow Creek to help the Black River.
On Oct. 10, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, announced the supplemental U.S. Environmental Protection Agency award to the Lorain County Commission.
The money will help improve water quality in the Black River Area of Concern on Lake Erie. The grant comes through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“These funds will help Lorain continue existing efforts to clean up the Black River and create new economic opportunities along on an important coastal waterway,” Kaptur said. “This investment also highlights the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and why we fought so hard, in a bipartisan way, to ensure this critical program was fully funded.”
The Black River AOC is on the list of toxic hotspots targeted for cleanup under the U.S.-Canadian Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The funding is a supplemental award to an existing grant of $600,000, increasing the total amount to just over $1 million, according to Kaptur’s office.
The Lorain County commissioners will use the funding to restore two areas of degradation and impairment in the Willow Creek watershed, which flows to the Black River, according to plans.
Funding will also support work to restore an additional 800 feet of Fortune Ditch, a major tributary of Willow Creek.
Crews also will restore 1.5 acres of riparian wetland habitat at the Margaret Peak Nature Preserve, a former family farm in Eaton Township donated to the township 12 years ago by its late namesake. The nature preserve is home to 170 species of birds, two ponds, five acres of wetlands and 10 acres of forest.
To date, Lorain County, in partnership with Eaton Township, has used the original funding to restore approximately 800 feet of Willow Creek and plant hundreds of live stakes and wetland plants around and along Fortune Ditch.
At the nature preserve, about 21 acres of active agricultural field will be revegetated with native grasses and wildflowers. Overall, funding is expected to establish 1,400 continuous feet of high-quality stream and riparian habitat within the preserve.
Since 2010, GLRI funding totaling $23.5 million — including $16 million from EPA — has funded 20 projects to remediate and restore the Black River AOC, according to data from Kaptur’s office.
Lyn Ickes, watershed specialist in the Lorain County Community Development Department, speaks to members of the Black River Civilian Conservation Corps at the Willow Creek restoration site Park on June 28.