On Saturday, May 9, 2015, the “usual suspects” gathered at a familiar stomping ground, West Creek Reservation.  The occasion was RiverSweep 2015 and for the 10th consecutive year, NEOCHMM members assisted the West Creek Conservancy (“WCC”) in cleaning-up and beautifying West Creek.  This is volunteerism done in one-half day.

In the past, NEOCHMM led a number of groups in extracting shopping carts, tires, and other urban debris from the headwaters of West Creek.  Indeed, during this event, some of those groups did remove some 11 shopping carts in ‘pieces parts.’ as well as about 74 bags of litter. However, the amount of debris in the creek has been steadily declining.

As a true sign things are turning for the better, NEOCHMM’s work was more proactive than reactive. For the second year in a row, we concentrated on planting trees and wetland vegetation in the upper reaches of West Creek, south of West Pleasant Valley Road and west of the shopping centers on Broadview Road, in Parma, Ohio.  The goal was to stabilize the banks of West Creek and the related wetland areas, so to control erosion and better accommodate steam surging and slowing down runoff from an urban area.


To accomplish this, we planted samplings of Dogwood and Willow right on the banks of West Creek.  The roots of these trees can accommodate a wet foot print.  Over time, the roots grow out over a wide area and can capture more sediment.  We then planted wetland vegetation in the wetlands abutting the banks and then over seeded that area with wetland grasses.  Finally, we planted oak trees on the shoulders of the plateau above the creek.  Some of vegetation planted last year is starting to take hold, but some of the plantings did not survive the harsh winter of 2014 or the deer that frequent the area.

While more work needs to be done, visual progress is evident.  Further, the WCC authorized Enviroscience, a local consulting firm that specializes in aquatic evaluations, to evaluate West Creek.  In 2007, the QHEI score was 55 and by 2013, it increased to 64.   Once the plantings placed during RiverSweep 2014 and 2015 take hold, further increases in the QHEI can be expected.

While West Creek is changing for the better, some things seem to remain constant. Herb Mausser, CHMM still plants trees while wearing a ten year old, blue bandana.  “Soccer Dad,” Ken Doyle CHMM, alumnus of Normandy High School in Parma, still returns to ‘kick’ current students into planting oak trees.  Elise Allen, CHMM, still hasn’t found the “lucky nickel” that fell out of her backpack three years ago.  Luckily, this work will be continued for RiverSweep 2016, scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2016.



NEOCHMM thanks our members, aka “the usual suspects,” for participating in this event. Also, NEOCHMM thanks Executive Director, Derek Schafer and the WCC for organizing and managing the event.