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How do you grow a healthy forest for future generations of people to enjoy?

The Forest Soils and Trees Ecosystem Restoration (FoSTER) project is a research initiative in collaboration with scientists at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Kent State University in North East Ohio. Together, we’re examining how ecosystem processes change during (and after) restoration activities on sites depleted by human activity within the National Park.

 

Research Goals

1: Compare the soil quality of the mine sites to nearby mature forests of similar slope and aspect (reference locations)

2: Determine if the sites are currently undergoing erosion and gullying in exceedance of the reference locations

3: Inform future reclamation projects to assist in the creation of successful practices

 

Land Use History

1974: The National Park Service (NPS) establishes the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. Prior to this the area consisted largely of a combination of waste dumps and approximately 50 industrial surface mines.

2000: The Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area is reclassified as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP).

Park staff continue to target areas in need of reclamation. Eventually targeted areas would include five abandoned mine sites:

Rockside Road (RR), 1984: construction borrow

Hines Hill Excavation (HH), 1991: construction borrow

Snowville Quarry (SQ), 1999: sand and gravel quarry

Dover (D), 2000: topsoil mine

Cleveland Trust  (CT), 2012: construction borrow

Years indicate year of abandonment.

2000-2012: Grasses and non-native and invasive plants dominate the sites. Invasive species include: Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle), Coronilla varia (crown vetch), Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace), Elaeagnus umbellate (autumn olive), Lythrum salicaria (Purple loosestrife), and Phragmites australis (common reed).

2012: NPS plants 1,200 native saplings on Dover in an attempt to restore the mine to pre-abandonment conditions.

2013-2017: Sapling mortality rate reaches >95%. Grasses continue to dominate all sites.

2017:  Gullies appeared on several sites following abandonment and persist today.