We’re learning about stream management as part of the watershed program of Cleveland Metroparks. So, Thursday we put on a pair of waders and went out in a stream off of Canal Road, Sagamore Creek, with some Metroparks employees. The Metroparks is assessing major streams in the area to see the general health and where remediation can occur if necessary. Volunteers like us are helping collect information and learning how to judge if a stream bank needs help. It’s judged with a tool called BEHI (Bank Erosion Hazard Index)–amusingly to me and Smith. On the BEHI chart, it is best to be low, and not very high. :0).
So one assesses various factors to come up with a BEHI number which is then used by the Metroparks to prioritize remediation. Some factors are if roots are dangling and the stream side is undercut; if the material on the bank is made of something that could wash away easily (like sand) or something that is more stable (bedrock, clay, etc.); and root density and penetration (the more dense and deep the roots into the soil, the better for stability).
The nice thing about this is that we have reason to be out in the streams wading around, and it’s a peaceful place to be. The water flowing around one’s boots, the trees, sometimes seeing some critters. And knowing more about one’s environment is interesting–actually knowing what’s going on and if something is OK or not. Most of the Sagamore Creek is OK, so that’s good.
The reason people are concerned about the streams is to help stabilize their migration–in areas where people have made homes that’s practically important to them so that they don’t lose land. And it’s also a matter of keeping topsoil in place and not having it wash away, and of course we would like to generally monitor and sample them and know what to do to help ensure that wildlife thrives in and around them.
I am so tickled that the Metroparks has this practical program. I had thought of it more as a purely recreational organization, but it is actually a land management program, too. It’s not just about people playing in parks–it’s about guardianship of nature. Many areas are being turned over to the Metroparks to manage, so that’s exciting. I like to think about land being turned over to wildlife instead of humans using it for housing and commerce. We can do well to condense where we humans live and work (for the most part) and turn more areas over to wildlife!