Yesterday I had the privilege of working with one of the fantastic volunteer groups we have here in Northeast Ohio: Friends of Lower Lake.
Working mainly in ten communities around Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, this group focuses on removing invasive species, cleaning up trash, and planting native species around the Lower Lake Park near the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. Friends of Lower Lake is part of the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, and Doan Brook is one of the Eastside Cleveland streams that flows into Lake Erie.
An all-volunteer group, Friends of Lower Lake (FLL) have already made such a difference in the last few years. Several areas around the lake that were previously completely inaccessible due to the overgrowth of invasive plants are now used and enjoyed daily, including a kayak launch! Just in the few hours I was in the park yesterday I saw two families go out with their kayaks using this launch area, which previously was not an option.
FLL have made trails, improved water drainage, addressed erosion problems, as well as many outreach activities such as presenting environmental talks by local experts and reaching out to local neighborhoods. All this adds up to major improvements both in the ecological health and enjoyment by the local public, and FLL is clearly an invaluable local gem!
So what does volunteering with Friends of Lower Lake entail? Some days it might be planting baby trees, others it could be learning what an invasive species looks like and removing it from the forest, other days it could be restoring trails affected by erosion or making a rain garden. Does that sound like a good way to give back to your community? If so head to the link at the bottom of this page!
Why is this work important? Every human city has, intentionally or not, heavily modified its natural landscape in many ways and these modifications can lead to a number of problems. Hydromodification can lead to accidental flooding, invasive species can kill off native species and make land unusable, and our environment’s natural ability to filter pollutants can be degraded or overwhelmed. Restoring riparian communities, removing invasive species, and increasing the genetic diversity of our forests makes our environment more resilient and more enjoyable for us all.
The work that FLL does improves not only improves the aesthetic value of our parks but helps restore balance between humans and nature. These volunteers selflessly give of their time and energy every week, so let’s all give them a big hand!
If you want to learn more about this group, volunteer, ask a local expert to speak at an event, or hear about their past projects go to their website.
Blog author: Meg Hennessey, Watershed Coordinator