Streamside Landowner Fact Sheets
Cuyahoga County, OH

Grantee: Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $22,500
Non-federal Funds: $17,361
Project Duration: 07/2002 - 12/2003
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The problem of excessive sediment in our waterways is often due to the mismanagement of streams. Many landowners and municipalities have serious misconceptions on how streams function and how they should be managed. These misconceptions often lead to poor decision making on the part of the landowner. Streambank erosion often occurs due to the elimination of a riparian buffer, excessive mowing, improper plantings and dumping of yard waste. More severe impacts to streams include straightening stream channels, haphazard armoring of the streambanks, and the piping of headwater streams.

Background
Many studies have revealed the importance of intact headwater streams to the overall health of a river system. We are learning all too well the significant costs, both in time and money, to restore streams as opposed to protecting them from the beginning. An accurate understanding by the public of how streams function and proper stream management is critical to stabilizing eroding streambanks, reducing nonpoint source pollution, protecting floodplains, preserving storm water capacity and enhancing habitat, both aquatic and terrestrial. Because Cuyahoga County represents some of the most densely populated areas in Ohio, a more efficient method of public education is necessary. Therefore, this project utilized an innovative method of public education to preserve and improve streams channels, thereby reducing nonpoint source pollution in rivers draining to Lake Erie.

Activities
This project involved the creation of a series of six fact sheets reflecting proper stream management techniques. The fact sheets included information presented in the Life at the Waterís Edge brochure, as well as, information provided by the technical advisory committee. The six topics to be covered in depth include: "How streams function", "Donít mow in the buffer zone", "Do plant cuttings in your buffer zones", "Donít Dump", "Donít change the path of your stream", and, a final summary of the most important points found in each fact sheet. A professional graphic artist developed the layout and design for each fact sheet. The fact sheets were printed on 8.5" x 11" paper stock, with a perforation for the postcard on the first and last fact sheet. For economy, the fact sheets were printed in two colors utilizing artwork presented in the Life at the Waterís Edge brochure. The remaining fact sheets (5,000 of each) were used for displays, teacher packets and mailing requests. An estimated 15,000 fact sheets were mailed to riparian landowners and municipalities every month for six months. A brief report was prepared compiling the answers to the questions posed on the postcard from the first and last mailing.

Results
The printing and mailing the fact sheets to all riparian landowners in Cuyahoga County has been completed. Surplus stream bank cuttings were distributed to riparian landowners as part of this project. In addition, a display was made focusing on the themes presented in the fact sheets. Each fact sheet is a different color, but of similar design to enable the public to understand that each fact sheet is part of a whole message. The design is appealing and the text is simple and to the point. A database of all riparian landowners in Cuyahoga County, limited to blue-line data on the USGS 7.5í topographic maps was developed. This data is now available to all municipalities within Cuyahoga County. A survey was incorporated into the first and last fact sheet to assess basic knowledge prior to and after the mailings. A total of 1056 people returned the survey for a return rate of 7%. Ohio State University (OSU) Extension was consulted on determining appropriate questions to pose, as well as, conducting the final statistical analysis of the results.

Contact: Ms. Kristyn Albro, 216-524-6580

 

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