At a Glance

A whole-systems approach restores stability and function to a degraded urban stream while also revitalizing the local ecology and community.

Project Description

After suffering from more than 200 years of human modifications to its hydrology and taking a pounding from increased stormwater runoff from its surrounding urban landscape, the Little Cuyahoga River along a stretch of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail had suffered a cyclical pattern of channel degradation and bank erosion. Evidence of the damage was abundant: a 7-foot drop caused by a perched, concrete-encased sewer crossing, undermined rip rap, and vertical eroding banks measuring as high as 10 feet.

To help the City of Akron address the degraded stream and proposed Ohio Canal Interceptor Tunnel (OCIT) outfall impacts, Biohabitats was asked to prepare a restoration/compensatory mitigation plan. Biohabitats developed a design that would not only achieve specific goals such as bank stabilization and safe conveyance of 100-year flows, but also improve the ecological conditions of the Little Cuyahoga River. The design, which focused on restoring fish migration, through the removal of a concrete encased sewer line which crossed the site, and maximizing the benefits of bioengineering, also restored aquatic and riparian habitat, improved water quality, and allowed the Little Cuyahoga River riparian zone to better function as a wildlife corridor. The design also enhanced the towpath user experience, by creating a “green” corridor of native vegetation along the River, as opposed to rip rap.

Biohabitats shepherded the project from the initial geomorphic assessment through concept development and permitting strategy to final design document production. The project is scheduled for construction in Fall 2018, Spring of 2019.



Great Lakes

Physiographic Province

Glaciated Allegheny Plateau


Little Cuyahoga River

Expertise Areas

Ecological Restoration, Urban Ecology


City of Akron


Akron, Ohio, United States