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FAQ - Watershed Stewardship Center

What is the Watershed Stewardship Center?

The Watershed Stewardship Center (WSC) focuses on citizen science, natural resource monitoring and restoration projects, and partnerships with local universities to enhance and protect the health of urban watersheds. The Center was designed using sustainable architectural standards and is on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The building was sited near a reclaimed landfill and constructed with energy and water conservation measures at the forefront. It showcases an aquarium that models a healthy Ohio stream and an interactive topographic map of the area.The facility houses a large multipurpose room, two educational classrooms, a research laboratory, and a Wi-Fi-accessible community resource room.

The dimensions of the building are as follows:
Total Area - 18,000sf, Office - 2000sf, Multipurpose Room - 1800sf, Classroom - 1100sf, Exhibits - 200sf, Lab - 600sf, Volunteer Area - 900sf. Surrounding the building are over 30 watershed/stormwater management features, such as bioswales, rain gardens and restored wetlands.

The Center’s MISSION is to enhance and protect the health of our urban watersheds. The Center’s AUDIENCE consists of watershed professionals, designers, contractors, civic officials, decision-makers, citizens, students, academia, and neighbors. The Center’s GOALS are to: develop community support to ensure the long-term health and survival of West Creek and adjacent ecosystems; increase capacity to effect change through citizen participation, environmental education and interpretation; improve the science of urban watershed restoration and management; improve the application of urban watershed restoration in West Creek and beyond; and show positive physical changes to the landscape.

This is the place for people to learn about urban landscape restoration. Healthy landscapes equal healthy people. People are encouraged to better understand how their individual actions can help restore impacted areas. 

Staffed by natural resource and education professionals, land protection specialists, volunteers, and visiting scientists, it is the first facility in Cleveland Metroparks dedicated to scientific research and promoting sustainable action with a focus on watersheds. The partners under WSC's roof are stormwater professionals, ecologists, naturalists, watershed coordinators, etc.

Where are West Creek Reservation and the Watershed Stewardship Center?

West Creek Reservation, a 324-acre property, is located in the City of Parma and a portion of Broadview Hts., and is one of the 18 reservations of Cleveland Metroparks. It preserves a valley of rocky gorges, forest-draped hillsides, floodplains and babbling brooks. The West Creek watershed 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 property is between State Road to the west, W. Ridgewood Drive to the north, Broadview Road to the east, and neighborhoods of Parma to the south.

The Watershed Stewardship Center is located in West Creek Reservation, off the park entrance off W. Ridgewood Drive.

What was the property before it became a part of Cleveland Metroparks?

The 324-acre West Creek Reservation is the only Cleveland Metroparks reservation that was created through grassroots land acquisition, led by a local watershed organization known as West Creek Conservancy (formerly the West Creek Preservation Committee). A 22-acre landfill that was closed in 1988 exists within the reservation. The restored meadow on the former landfill is now one of two of the largest preserved grasslands in the Greater Cleveland region, offering prime habitat for dozens of protected bird species.

When did the property become part of Cleveland Metroparks and what is the timeline?

West Creek Reservation became part of Cleveland Metroparks in January 2006, through a 99-year renewable lease with the City of Parma and the West Creek Conservancy. The initial restoration phase including site improvements including trails and a wetland boardwalk were completed in 2009. A second phase, including the Watershed Stewardship Center overlooking the wetlands, was started in 2011, and an Occupancy Permit was issued for the building in December 2012. The new facility officially opened June 2013. An original schedule was affected by the 2011 wettest year on record resulting in the basic project finishing in late 2012, rather than mid 2012.

What is the cost of the project?

The costs for the project are: site at $5,844,120, the Watershed Stewardship Center at $5,031,665 and the exhibits at $701,961.

What is the funding for the project?

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) is a committed partner with Cleveland Metroparks for the Watershed Stewardship Center and West Creek Reservation. Not only through cooperative efforts in projects and programs, but through funding, as well. The support from NEORSD is $3,000,000 for the Watershed Stewardship Center and $13,500 in-progress for a Stormwater Retrofit Project. Total grant funding in place, including NEORSD, is almost $5,200,000.

What is the Watershed Volunteer Program?

Based out of the Watershed Stewardship Center, the Watershed Volunteer Program (WVP) is an effort to engage residents in diverse activities to improve watershed conditions. Funded by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund and Cleveland Metroparks, the project began in fall 2012 and since that time WVP volunteers have been involved in 43 events, 7 community extension activities, and 12 independent projects. Twenty-one individuals are considered Certified Watershed Stewards – volunteers that completed at least 3 learning modules, 2 restoration events, and 2 monitoring activities. WVP partners with over 10 different organizations has assisted with projects throughout the Greater Cleveland area - not just on Cleveland Metroparks property.

How did West Creek get its name?

West Creek is named after the West family, early residents of Independence Township? Early maps indicate the name on this waterbody as Skinner Creek and then Quarry Creek in reference to Berea Sandstone quarries that were mined in the West Creek watershed for building materials used worldwide.