Years of man-made impact on Cilley Creek, which runs from near down through to the , were reversed recently after the Environmental Stewardship Commission (ESC) in partnership with the Mill Creek Alliance used grant money to restore the natural flow of the creek and bring it back to a more healthy state.

When Stearns Woods was home to several Victorian-era manses in the early 20th Century, the creek had been dammed to create a scenic pond.  Although the homes have been gone for decades, a portion of the old dam remained, and the clogged creek had collected sediment that impeded its natural flow and was a detriment to wildlife that depended on a healthy, free-flowing stream, says , a senior ecologist with Applied Ecological Services, Inc., and a leader on the project for the Environmental Stewardship Commission.

Restoration of Stearns Woods has been a priority project for the ESC for the past two years, as invasive species like honeysuckle have been removed and replaced with native species.  It was during the invasive vegetation removal project that volunteers noticed the clogged creek and the remnant of the former dam.

Using a portion of $300,000 in grant money from the Green Ohio Fund, part of which went to removing the honeysuckle, the City of brought in heavy equipment to remove the remaining dam, and then installed limestone cascades to bring the creek back to a state it might have known before homeowners altered its flow.

“This project restores the health of the creek and creates a beautiful natural area and park,” says Kwiatkowski.  “It brings back the true aesthetic of the creek.”

Residents got a chance to tour the Stearns Woods portion of the creek June 27th to hear about the project and see how it impacted this local waterway.