Restoring native habitats, one plant at a time.
Where Native Plants are Needed: Above, volunteers at the Confluence Restoration Area in Independence complete the reintroduction of native plants, such as those now being raised at Spring Hill Native Plant Nursery. Once occupied by a vacant warehouse and parking lot, the site is regularly flooded by the Cuyahoga River. West Creek Conservancy acquired and restored the property into a functioning 10-acre floodplain.
The Challenge: Most urban properties were cleared of their natural vegetation long ago. The habitats of our native plants, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife were destroyed to make way for residential, commercial, or industrial development. Alien plants – such as lawns – were often planted, providing little nourishment for our native fauna. When these properties have outlived their useful lives, many become available for reclamation. But most animal species are supported by a specific native food chain. For example, to enjoy monarch butterflies, we must provide milkweed. So to restore a healthy environment, one that supports native fauna, native plants must be reestablished. But these projects often have tight budgets, and a diverse supply of native plants is costly.
Our Action: West Creek Conservancy often takes on the task of restoring the natural environments that once flourished on urban properties. To enable these projects and provide an economical source of native plants, the Conservancy created its own nursery. A portion of Spring Hill Farm, a ten-acre tract in Seven Hills already protected by a conservation easement granting the Conservancy agricultural use of the land, has been converted into native plant production. In 2015, nearly 50 species of native seeds and plants were collected and planted at the nursery.
The Impact: Spring Hill Native Plant Nursery, a maternity ward for the natural habitats of the birds, butterflies, and other native wildlife, is now in operation by West Creek Conservancy. Native shrubs and saplings are thriving. At minimal cost, the nursery is now providing abundant plants to help volunteers, school groups, and others restore degraded urban lands throughout Greater Cleveland.
This is a highlight from our 2016 Report to the Community of over 20 projects completed by West Creek Conservancy in 2015. The full report can be downloaded from our website.