Posted: June 21, 2013
BOB ROTATORI - 216-635-3263, email@example.com
SUE ALLEN – 216-635-3338, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 21st is the summer solstice - the start of a new season and the opening of a new building!
Cleveland Metroparks, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, West Creek Conservancy, the City of Parma and many guests celebrated the opening of the new Watershed Stewardship Center and West Creek Reservation in Parma on Friday, June 21 at 10:30 a.m. with an official opening and a special ‘water ribbon’ cutting held at the center’s entrance.
The Watershed Stewardship Center was developed through a partnership between Cleveland Metroparks, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the West Creek Conservancy.
After the opening, everyone was welcome to tour the innovative center and West Creek Reservation during the “Community Discovery Days” held on Friday, June 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and continuing Saturday, June 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The free, family-friendly Community Discovery Days include the following activities:
- Discover the Center’s great exhibits
- View a state-of-the-art topographic map
- Tour a living roof and other displays
- See natural resources research demonstrations up-close
- Take a guided nature walk
- Meet Wally Waterdrop, Vern the Frog, and FrogWatch’s USA Mascot “Space Kermit”*
- Plant native seeds for your future rain garden and enjoy other crafts
- Shopping, refreshments for purchase, and more!
The Watershed Stewardship Center is dedicated to promoting healthy urban watersheds through science, education, research and restoration and was designed using sustainable architectural standards. Come and explore, discover and delight in the unique blend of science and technology, paired with green design and grassroots volunteer action.
The almost 18,000-square-foot building is a one-of-a-kind destination point for planners, developers, architects and other professionals to gain the information they need to do their jobs better. They can bring clients, service directors, and others to the center to see over 30 state-of-the-art stormwater management features at work in and around the center.
Visitors can learn about local watersheds by viewing the interactive topographic map and touring dozens of water management features. The center, built on one of the largest remaining undeveloped open spaces in the county, showcases an aquarium that models a healthy Ohio stream and houses a large multipurpose room, two educational classrooms, a wet laboratory, WiFi-accessible community resource room and provides a sustainable work environment.
West Creek Reservation, located in Parma and Broadview Heights, is in the center of Cuyahoga County’s West Creek Valley. Although a geologically unique and biologically diverse area, the valley has been impacted by two centuries of settlement and industrial development. While neighborhoods surrounding most of the nine-mile West Creek are densely developed, this 324-acre reservation preserves a valley of rocky gorges, forest-draped hillsides, floodplains and babbling brooks. The West Creek watershed has influenced settlement and development patterns for two centuries. Remnants of abandoned quarries and the comfortable homes of quarry owners can still be found in the watershed today, which drains the cities of Parma, Seven Hills, Brooklyn Heights, Independence and portions of North Royalton and Broadview Heights, before emptying into the Cuyahoga River.
The West Creek Preservation Committee (now West Creek Conservancy) spent ten years acquiring open land and applying for grants to fund additional acquisitions to piece together the West Creek Preserve. The property became part of the Park District in 2006 through a 99-year renewable lease with the City of Parma and the West Creek Conservancy [formerly Preservation Committee].
The Partners of the Watershed Stewardship Center and West Creek Reservation:
Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD): protects our water resources through sewage and stormwater management. Since 1972, it has been dedicated to protecting the health and environment of our region while enhancing quality of life. It serves more than 60 communities, treats nearly 200 million gallons of wastewater every day, and employs more than 600 Northeast Ohioans who work to keep our Great Lake great. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is proud to be a key stakeholder and partner with Cleveland Metroparks for the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek. In addition to the Sewer District’s initial contribution of $3 million towards the Center’s construction, it has made an annual in-kind commitment and will have staff permanently housed at the Center. The Sewer District’s contribution to the center and relationship with Cleveland Metroparks furthers its stormwater and watershed outreach efforts by making new educational resources more accessible on a local level.
West Creek Conservancy (formerly West Creek Preservation Committee) (WCC): Since its founding in 1997, West Creek Conservancy has been a model of citizen action and local habitat conservation. In recent years, WCC has increasingly taken on the role of, and acquired expertise as, an urban land conservancy. What began as a small group of concerned citizen activists has evolved into a potent 501(c)3 conservation organization driven by a dedicated staff, board of trustees and team of volunteers. WCC programs can be categorized into five general land trust areas: acquiring and permanently protecting natural areas; developing public park and trail systems; providing public education on the importance of water quality protection, land conservation, watershed management, and urban environmental stewardship; protecting and restoring stream, wetland and riparian habitat; and providing long-term stewardship of greenspace.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of West Creek Reservation is the discovery of new urban watershed stewardship techniques. The developed and restored natural areas of the reservation are a living laboratory supplying data and demonstrating real-world solutions for stormwater and pollution control.
West Creek Reservation invites cyclists, hikers, picnickers, birdwatchers and all nature lovers to enjoy the varied upland and wetland landscapes, including a 40-acre meadow. Nesting birds include red-tailed hawks, wood ducks and screech owls, and migratory species such as American redstart, indigo bunting, Lincoln’s sparrow and great crested flycatcher can be found there, as well.
The Watershed Stewardship Center is located at 2277 W. Ridgewood Drive in West Creek Reservation, between State and Broadview roads in Parma.
For more information, go to clevelandmetroparks.com or call the Watershed Stewardship Center at 440-887-1968.
The new Watershed Stewardship Center and West Creek Reservation are officially open in Cleveland Metroparks – Discover, Enjoy, Protect!
* EDITOR’S NOTE:
Rachel Gauza, FrogWatch USA National Coordinator for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), is joining the opening festivities of the new Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek. Accompanying her from the AZA office, based just outside of Washington DC, is the FrogWatch USA mascot, “Space Kermit,” a large, plush stuffed animal outfitted in a NASA spacesuit. This plush Space Kermit traveled to space and back for the Walt Disney Corporation on the United States Space Shuttle Endeavor on March 11, 2008, highlighting the incredible journeys and great lengths amphibians must take to ensure the survival of their species. Visitors can meet Gauza to learn more about the amphibians in your neighborhood and how to engage in amphibian conservation efforts, and while there, can take a picture with the plush Space Kermit to commemorate the experience and document FrogWatch USA’s cross-country tour. Cleveland Metroparks is one of more than 85 FrogWatch USA chapters that train and support volunteers as they learn how to monitor the frogs and toads heard calling and breeding in local wetlands. The data collected by these citizen scientists, and others across the nation, are used for generating important information on the distribution, ecology and conservation needs of United States amphibians.