Sustainability issues

Watershed Issues

Two free-running branches of Dugway Brook flow into and through Forest Hill Park in two deep ravines, exposing layers of shale. Much of the Dugway Brook in Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland was buried and culverted decades ago as these cities developed. Only small portions of the Dugway still remain open to remind us of what has been lost. Culvertization of the Dugway in the East Cleveland part of the park has resulted in a severely disturbed and altered valley floor and proliferation of invasive species there, including knotweed, garlic mustard, phragmites, and tree of heaven.

Boreal Forest Restoration Project

There is a small remnant of boreal forest in the park at the confluence of the two branches of the Dugway. In fall of 2013 ECPA planted 150 hemlock seedlings on north facing slopes in the park as a beginning effort to restore boreal habitat.

Trees and Natural Succession

Many of the beech and maple trees on the steep hillsides in the park are very old. There are also old specimens of oak, sassafras and tulip tree throughout the park. Notable specimens of non-native European beech and Asian gingko were planted during Rockefeller's ownership and remain. Because so many trees in the park are old - several are lost every year - an effort is being made to tag and protect naturally occurring replacements in several imporant areas. The biggest challenge is deer browse and antler rub damage by the local population of urban deer.

Unique Environments: Oak Savannahs

The Great Meadow and Meadow Vista are unique biological environments known as oak savannahs. Not naturally occurring, oak savannahs combine competing grass and forest eco-systems. Unless maintained these savannahs revert to forest. This is happening in Meadow Vista where downed trees have made maintenance mowing difficult. The Great Meadow has been maintained as an oak savannah more successfully. Volunteers have helped by tagging saplings to keep as replacement trees, by cutting back unwanted saplings, and especially by removing invasive species. Volunteer efforts to control garlic mustard around The Great Meadow are making a difference, especially on the north side of the meadow. Several patches of native cutleaf toothwort there are spreading.

The Lake

The lake lies north of Forest Hill Boulevard in the northernmost run-off tributary of the Dugway watershed and was first dammed in the 19th century, creating a several acre lake. Originally deeper, the lake's depth was reduced for reasons of public safety during park construction in 1939 through 1941. Today the lake is home to fish and snapping turtles. Ducks, night herons, kingfishers, and great blue herons call the lake home seasonally. An occasional loon or egret has been spotted . There is a large year-round population of Canadian geese. The numerous geese, the lake's shallowness, and the lack of a fresh water source, all contribute to an on-going problem with water quality. ECPA has installed aerators - several more will be added in 2014 - improving water quality, and manipulated water flow successfully, sometimes to flush the lake, sometimes to increase water volume. Other options are being considered, including small floating pods of plants that naturally cleanse water, and plantings along the shore. East Cleveland school children through a grant planted irises and other water loving plants along the shore in 2013. A United Airlines grant will allow volunteers to plant more shore-line plants in the summer of 2014.

A Vision for The Future

It is up to all of us to do our part to maintain John D. Rockefeller's vision of a park for all people for all time. Come to the park. Tell your friends about the park. Volunteer in the park. With your help the park can retain its irreplaceable natural features and become an ever better oasis for renewal and recreation.