by Laura Freeman | Reporter
Hudson — The tributary of Tinkers Creek running on the north side of Hudson High School, once a stagnant ditch of water, has been transformed into a living land lab for students and the community.
More than a decade ago, the restoration of the stream was the dream of two Hudson High School teachers — Christine DiCato-Thaxton, who teaches Advanced Placement environmental science, and Matt Kearns, who teaches ecology.
The construction of Hudson High School in 1993 disturbed the Tinkers Creek tributary, according to Hudson Mayor William Currin. The restoration provides a living land lab for students while improving water quality and reducing local flooding.
“This is an investment toward the protection and restoration of the watershed,” Currin said.
The city contributed $250,000 to the project from its storm water fund. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency contributed $329,000 in grants.
The school added $88,700 of in-kind contributions, including labor, and the land as a conservation easement, said J. Meiring Borcherds, the project manager from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the fiscal agent of the grant.
The 319 Hudson Stream Restoration Project was dedicate Nov. 19 by the school, city and representatives from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan, Ohio EPA, Summit County Soil and Water Conservation District and Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners. Biohabitats and Meadville Land Services provided the hands-on labor with the help of students.
The 6.28 acres along Tinkers Creek on school property will be preserved as a conservation water easement, held by the Summit Soil Conservation District. The watershed will prevent erosion and temporarily store water to control flooding.
Students helped with the design to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, minimize erosion and provide a minimum of 2 million gallons of storage to reduce storm water flow in the city.
“Educators don’t often see the tangible work of what they do,” said Hudson City School District Superintendent Steve Farnsworth as he spoke of DiCato-Thaxton and Kearns. “For generations students will have an opportunity to learn from this stream restoration.”
When adults support students and give them equipment and tools, they can learn to help make a stream work and learn how its part of a bigger piece in water environment, DiCato Thaxton said.
“It’s a good thing for kids,” DiCato-Thaxton said. “We’ve met all our goals.”
Kearns said students were part of the process from design to plantings.
“They worked hard to get it done,” Kearns added.
The high school is the perfect location for the project because it is a large area of land owned by one property owner, said Paul Kovalcik, senior environmental scientist. The design provides adequate storm water storage and blends with the stream’s restoration.
The stream boasts a wet meadow, a forested meadow and an emergent wetland with two large temporary storage areas that can hold water and allow it to slowly drain over one or two days, Kovalcik said.
Construction began in June 2012 and was completed at the end of August. The stream was widened to form the temporary storage areas, with 13,000 cubic yards of dirt moved onto school property to form a sound barrier near the turnpike and level out the nearby athletic field. Rock weirs or dams were created to slow down the flow of water and allow impurities to filter out.
In three days, 200 students planted 550 shrubs and 1,100 plugs, in addition to 250 trees of various species planted by professionals, Borcherds said. Tubing, mesh and dog hair have been added to the plantings to protect them from deer. More plantings will be added in the spring.