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RiverDay highlights Cuyahoga River

4/19/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

A group of volunteers displays trash collected from the Cuyahoga River bank near Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Canal Visitor Center during a previous RiverDay cleanup.
Boy Scouts pitched in for an invasive plant eradication during the 2007 RiverDay at Brust Park in Munroe Falls.
Photos courtesy of Friends of the Crooked River
GREATER AKRON — Friends of the Crooked River and its partners are hoping local residents will take some time to appreciate and learn more about the Cuyahoga River on May 19.

That day is the 22nd annual RiverDay, with 19 events scheduled to take place in Summit, Portage, Cuyahoga and Geauga counties, the four counties the river runs through.

“We pictured RiverDay as a way to encourage people to spend time at the river, so we looked at anything that could happen at the river as a RiverDay event,” said Elaine Marsh, a Bath resident who is the conservation director for Friends of the Crooked River.

During RiverDay, volunteers are needed to walk the Cuyahoga River bank and other areas collecting and bagging trash as they go.
The day will feature three types of events, Marsh said: stewardship events, such as invasive plant pulls; interpretive events, where residents can learn more about the river and projects to improve it; and fun leisure events such as hikes, festivals and concerts.

Several of the scheduled events will highlight the removal of dams from the river in recent years. When RiverDay began, there were eight major dams on the river. In the last 10 years, two have been removed, in Kent and Munroe Falls, and two more are set to be removed in Cuyahoga Falls.

Marsh said the removal of dams is a positive step.

“It improves water quality,” she said. “In Cuyahoga Falls, the dam pool, the place where the river is quiet, is nearly 2 miles long. For that full section, we don’t have the appropriate amount of dissolved oxygen you would expect to see, so it does not make it as healthy of an environment for aquatic life.”

Removal of dams also makes the river more usable and safer for recreation, such as canoeing and kayaking, she said.

“Also, it’s the natural river,” she said. “Most people think the natural river is more beautiful. Certainly in Cuyahoga Falls when those dams come out, the overall length of the river will be more interesting to look at.”

The river is also in much better shape than it was when RiverDay began, Marsh said.

“When we started in 1989, there was only a small portion of the river that even partially met the [EPA’s] fishable standards,” she said. “Now, I would say most of the river meets at least partial attainment of the aquatic life standards that the Ohio EPA uses.”

The city of Akron’s work to eliminate combined sewer overflow is also helping, she said.

Of the several events scheduled for RiverDay, here are those taking place locally:

• A Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) river cleanup will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will help remove trash and exotic plants within the Cuyahoga River watershed. Participants should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, sturdy boots and work gloves. The location will be given upon registration. Call 330-657-2299, email volunteer@forcvnp.org or go to www.conservancyforcvnp.org to register.

• The Best Dam Bus Tour will allow visitors to tour projects in the middle Cuyahoga River that have aided in restoring water quality. From 9 to 11:30 a.m., the tour will explore the Goodyear Little Cuyahoga River dam modification and river restoration project and learn about Akron’s plans to modify sewers. At noon, participants can have lunch and see the Munroe Falls dam removal and river restoration. From 1 to 3:30 p.m., the tour will take visitors to the Plum Creek dam removal and river restoration project and the Kent dam modification. A stop in Cuyahoga Falls at 4 p.m. will show the dams slated for removal there. Participants can take all tours or just the morning or afternoon tour. Bring a lunch and water. To participate, register with Marsh at ohgreenway@gmail.com or 330-666-4026. The tour is free.

• A CVNP Junior Ranger program will take place from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. There is a fee to participate and registration is required. The location will be given at registration. Call 330-657-2796, ext. 100, to register.

• The city of Cuyahoga Falls will host a Bicentennial River Day Cleanup and Beautification Project from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers are needed to clean up litter and debris along the river, plant flowers and assist with an invasive plant pull at Water Works Park. Trash bags, planting supplies and lunch will be provided. To register, contact Becky McCleary at 330-971-8201 or mcclearyrm@cityofcf.com.

• The Cascade Locks Park Association will host a hike along the river from 10 a.m. to noon with guide Bob Jenkins. Hikers will learn about the area’s history and wildlife on the 2-mile hike. The Mustill Store will be open for visitors as well. To participate, meet at the park at 57 W. North St. in Downtown Akron. For information, call 330-374-5625 or go to www.cascadelocks.org.

• A National Park Service (NPS) ranger will lead a hike along the river from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Hikers should meet at NPS headquarters, 15610 Vaughn Road in Brecksville. Call 330-657-2752 for more information.

• A ranger will explain how the river is tested and monitored from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Boston Store Visitor Center, 1550 Boston Mills Road in Peninsula. Call 330-657-2752 for more information.

• A hike of the newly created 1-mile Haley’s Run Trail, which runs along the Little Cuyahoga River, will take place at 2 p.m. Meet at the trailhead on Landon Street, off Triplett Boulevard one block west of Seiberling Avenue in East Akron. For more information, contact Lauren von Vesterfield at 330-592-8155.

• The River, an exhibition of original works by artists working in different media, will highlight the role the river plays in their everyday lives. From 5 to 7 p.m., visitors to the Peninsula Art Academy, 1600 Mill St. in Peninsula, can meet the artists and view their works. The exhibit will run through June 23. Call 330-657-2248 for more information.

For information on all RiverDay events, call 330-666-4026 or go to www.cuyahogariver.net.

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