LORAIN — The Black River Advisory Committee showed off the progress that has been made in and along the river during its annual summer potluck meeting, which included a boat tour.
In 2015, Lorain was awarded a $15 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant by the Great Lakes National Program to fund projects that would restore an area of Black River near Lake Erie.
It was the largest such grant awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and work began almost immediately on environmentally sensitive or damaged areas.
According to Chairman Don Romancak, all projects within the Lower Black River Restoration Project have a target finish date of Sept. 30, 2019.
In addition to the restoration work funded by the grant, local residents also have helped to improve the river. This year’s Black River Clean-Up drew 320 volunteers over two days who removed more than 250 tires and 1,300 pounds of scrap metal from the river and the land along it.
In the past five years, the annual cleanup has removed more than 72 tons of trash and more than 1,000 tires from the river.
On Tuesday, a three-hour boat ride took guests down the Black River past sites such as Lorain Lighthouse, Lorain Sailing & Yacht Club, U.S. Steel Corp., Republic Steel and the heron rookery.
According to representatives from Coldwater Consulting, fish habitat components will be added along the river near the yacht club this winter. Hollow pipes filled with woody debris will help algae, which could help the fish in the area reproduce more frequently.
Today the company will be electrofishing to assess the area’s fish population. No permanent harm is done to the fish during the process.
The slope near Black River Landing was graded in fall 2015 so it wouldn’t have the tendency to erode. Two years later, erosion has decreased dramatically, and the land is covered in flowers, chokecherries and other shrubs and trees.
The heron rookery boasts eagles, blue herons and other wildlife. Work in the rookery included building out the bank and adding prevegetated filter socks, native plants and boulder clusters, making it an aquatic habitat.
“The density of birds we have here is amazing. I’m just amazed by it,” said Ron Mantini, of the Lorain Port Authority. “It’s a biodiversity hotspot as is. Anything we can do to accentuate that is all the better.”
Members of the Black River Advisory Committee are proud of the improvements made so far, but they know they aren’t finished.
They are awaiting word on if they will be awarded money when the Dominion Watershed Mini Grant winners are announced at summer’s end.
Contact Alexis Dill at 329-7155 or email@example.com.