by Gideon Johnson
At the Geauga Park Board meeting on Monday August 8th, Park Biologist and Natural Resource Manager, Paul Pira, gave a presentation on the District’s plans for stream restoration work at Veterans Legacy Woods that would create a habitat for the endangered brook trout. The park, formerly a golf course, contains a rare cold water spring that is slated to be altered into a new stream bed. This pristine cold water stream will be the perfect habitat for brook trout. This fish was thought to be extinct in Ohio until the 1970’s when it was discovered in Spring Brook, a feeder into Bass Lake, near Chardon, Ohio. Spring Brook is now a Nature Preserve managed by the State of Ohio.
Paul spoke about the effort to determine whether these fish were native trout, or offspring from a restocking program. In the late 1990’s it was confirmed via DNA analysis that these fish were truly native brook trout. They are reproducing in a hatchery and have been introduced to several other cold water streams in Geauga and neighboring counties.
As part of the restoration work, trees will be planted for shade along the stream to keep the water as cold as possible. This project, estimated to cost a cool million dollars, is being submitted to the Ohio EPA as a grant proposal.
Several other streams on the property that have been buried or diverted into culverts are being naturalized as well as part of the current restoration work that has closed Veterans Legacy Woods for the year. During the meeting the park commissioners worked on passing a budget of multiple millions of dollars for construction projects over the next several years, yet no money was allocated for Pira’s project.