Trees planted here help streams, rivers, Lake Erie

Submitted by Charles Frost on Fri, 12/28/2007 - 19:52.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

By Rachael Derrick

Brunswick Sun Times

MEDINA Cleaner water in future decades begins with seedlings this spring.

The Rocky River Backyard Buffers program will give free trees to any resident who owns streamside property and will plant the trees near the streams.

"Most people don't realize that something as simple as planting trees can have a big impact," said Jared Bartley, Rocky River Watershed Coordinator of the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District.


Trees need water to live, but water also needs trees to prevent erosion of the streambanks, filter impurities from rainwater that drains into the streams and provide habitats for other plants and animals that live in and near the water.

"Anything out to 25 to 30 feet away from the water is considered the riparian zone," Bartley said, describing the land area that directly affects the water. "The wider that plant buffer, the more opportunity it has to filter rainwater before reaching the stream."

Paid for through a grant from the Lake Erie Protection Fund, the program began with a brochure to describe the benefits of trees to homeowners in the area. Eligible residents can enroll now to receive trees in March or April.

Medina residents George and Eileen Fullard said they got the brochure in the mail and thought the program sounded like a great idea. She had already installed a retaining wall and a rock garden to support the streambanks on her property

"(The brochure) said the trees could help stop the stream from washing away," she said. "The stream can get high, so I'm going to ask advice on where to plant the trees."

"We love it," George said of the couple's Ledgewood Drive home. "We wouldn't trade it for the world."

"It's like having our own private park," Eileen said.

The Fullards are among 11,000 homeowners in the Rocky River watershed, which includes parts of Medina, Cuyahoga, Lorain and Summit counties. Bartley said that more than 200 people had already enrolled in the program, which is open until Dec. 12.

"We are planning about 25 seedlings for every 50 feet of stream, spaced enough for them to plant about 25 feet out," he said. "For senior citizens or others who may have problems doing the planting, we're hoping to recruit volunteers to assist."

The trees will be purchased from the state nursery in Marietta and will include plants adapted to flood plains such as sycamore, pin oak, maple and dogwood trees.


"In watershed planning for the Rocky River, planting trees was identified as the single most important thing that can be done to protect water quality," Bartley said. "There are about 660 miles of stream in the watershed. It would be great to have trees all along there."

To further improve the quality of water and land in the watershed, the city council voted Tuesday to support an initiative that will take riparian areas into account for zoning and planning purposes.

The Upper West Branch Rocky River Balance Growth Initiative examined the land around streams and creeks to identify areas for conservation, development and agriculture. With input from the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District, the city will promote appropriate use of the areas to ensure future land and water quality.

By following the initiative, the city may also be eligible for state incentive programs or grants related to conservation or soil and water quality. Medina will be one of 12 cities and townships within the Upper West Branch watershed included in the initiative.

To enroll in the Backyard Buffers program or find out if you are eligible, visit or call Bartley at (216) 524-6580.




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