Thanks to a Growing Greener grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the cooperative efforts of many groups and individuals, vegetative plantings along the streambank of Cascade Creek, a small stream that runs through the City of Erie and empties into Presque Isle Bay, took place on October 10, 2001. Those participating included: Sister Pat Lupo, Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force; Ed Kissell, S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie; the DEP; Pennsylvania Lake Erie Watershed Association; Strong Vincent High School students; officials from Country Fair, Inc.; members of the French Creek Project, and the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park (LEAF).
After heavy rains, the stream’s sides are often unstable, leading to erosion. It was decided to correct the problem utilizing a major stream-bank stabilization and restoration project. The work along the 250-foot-stretch of the east bank of Cascade Creek cost $118,000, with $91,300 coming from the state grant. Country Fair (a chain of convenience stores) picked up the rest.
“This is not something we had to do, but Country Fair always wants to do the right thing,” said Chris Orton, Country Fair’s director of real estate. Orton credited Ed Kissell of S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie, a fishing and waterways advocacy group, with conceiving the project and bringing everyone together to make it a reality.
A steel mill was once located in the area and, for decades, fly ash and foundry sand were dumped there, leaving the soils heavily contaminated. Erosion of the stream bank allowed pollutants to flow into the stream that carried them to Presque Isle Bay. By stabilizing the stream bank, the contaminants are contained and downstream areas, including the bay, are protected.
The plantings included native flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees that are appropriate for planting in a streamside environment. Trees and vegetation will keep streambank erosion down. Problems can occur when streambanks without a tangle of roots to bind the soil are vulnerable to the forces of water. Vegetation will keep the waters cool and provide food and cover for fish and wildlife while they help stabilize the bank.