From Fore to Forest for Fins and Feathers: Transformation of a Private Golf Course to a Public Park through reforestation and stream, wetland and meadow restoration

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Jennifer M. Grieser, Constance E. Hausman, PhD

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Cleveland Metroparks acquired Acacia golf course (62.7 ha) in 2012 with the directive to restore Acacia Reservation into a natural area. The private golf course had been in operation since 1921. This was an important land acquisition in a highly urbanized area of the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA and situated at the headwaters of Euclid Creek, a direct tributary to Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. In 2013 Cleveland Metroparks developed an Ecological Restoration Master Plan that served as a map for stream restoration, wetland creation and meadow establishment as well as a tool for garnering significant external funding. Formerly a maze of underground irrigation pipes and tile drainage, a primary goal of the plan is to restore the natural hydrology of the site to the extent possible. In addition to conducting their own land management activities (ie. reforestation, prescribed burns, tile breaking, invasive plant management), Cleveland Metroparks hired a design-build consultant/contractor team to restore three tributaries and create five headwater wetland swales. Channelized Euclid Creek was transformed to a meandering base flow channel. Springs and seeps were daylighted and spread out into wetland pockets that hydrate the landscape and provide an aquatic and terrestrial oasis. Eight years later the Park District has documented 465 species composed of 237 plant species, 60 species of fungi and 168 species of animals. Meanwhile well over 100,000 people visit this popular park every year, showcasing the progress of restoration in this urban setting.

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