While we work toward creating excellence in green infrastructure and sustainable building practices in the Valley, we cannot forget the legacy of a damaged ecology that we have inherited.
The Valley’s ecological health has been compromised by Northeast Ohio’s industrial past. Historic land use patterns, including poor building and property management practices, have damaged the watershed. Aging infrastructure including combined sewer and stormwater overflows continue a negative impact on water quality. Decades of emissions from heavy industry and vehicles have degraded the Valley’s air quality. Numerous “brownfields” - land that is polluted with chemicals or heavy metals from previous operations – are in need of rehabilitation. Wildlife in the Navigation Channel is limited due to poor water quality. The fish that do live in the river are not fit for human consumption. Swimming in the lower stretches of the Cuyahoga River is prohibited due to high levels of bacteria, toxins and pesticides in the water.
Despite this legacy full of ecological challenges, a strong current of hope and opportunity exists in the Valley. The legacy of pollution and degradation is not the end of the Cuyahoga Valley story. While the River and Valley are not in perfect health at present, many organizations are working toward interventions that will advance a healthy Valley. Indeed, through the continued engagement of local organizations and individuals working together in new ways (link to protocol), the River Valley will be restored to health.
Learn about the next chapter of the Cuyahoga Valley ecology —a story being written today by these organizations who see the Valley as a living laboratory for sustainability.