Feds give $550K for creek cleanup

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - Staff re­port

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.

RICHARD PAY­ERCHIN — THE MORN­ING JOURNAL FILE

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.

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