A restoration project has brought dramatic changes to the site of a former golf course along the Cuyahoga River in Akron, Ohio. Through a project at the Valley View area of Cascade Valley Metro Park, NOAA and partners restored nearly 60 acres of habitat and 5,000 feet of shoreline along the river. As part of a public park, the site now provides access to the river and to biking and hiking trails.
The Cuyahoga River, located in northeast Ohio, has a history of heavy industry and pollution. In 1987, the river was listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern. These are places where a waterway’s poor conditions are affecting the environment, human health, and the local economy. Local, state, and federal partners work together to restore an Area of Concern by addressing the environmental degradation.
Once the location of a dairy farm, the project site was operated as Valley View Golf Course from the 1950s until 2016, when Summit Metro Parks acquired the land. The project was listed as a priority for addressing several issues, including:
- Degradation of fish populations
- Degradation of fish habitat
- Degradation of bottom-dwelling organisms
With funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NOAA provided more than $3.1 million to support the planning, design, and implementation of habitat restoration activities at the site. This included reconnecting the river to its floodplain and creating in-stream structures like boulder clusters and wood features to improve habitat and spawning conditions for fish. Early monitoring results have shown a significant increase in both the total number of fish and the variety of fish species using the roughly 1-mile stretch of river.
In addition to the NOAA-supported restoration, prior work at the site included restoring streams and wetlands, and reforesting upland areas. Together, these efforts have transformed the former golf course into a natural landscape that supports fish, wildlife, and diverse opportunities for recreation. Now open to the public as part of Cascade Valley Metro Park, the area offers hiking and biking trails and public access to the river for fishing and kayaking.
Partners on the project included:
- NOAA Fisheries
- Great Lakes Commission
- Summit Metro Parks