This article was written by our Summer 2021 intern, Natalie Feighan.

Brooklyn Ohio’s Stickney Creek is located in Veterans Memorial Park, a public greenspace that provides the community with opportunities for recreation and exploration. At one point however, runoff from the city had gotten so intense that it was causing Stickney Creek to rapidly erode. Stream erosion occurs when a powerful flow of water carries sediments and debris downstream in such a way that the natural landscaping becomes deteriorated. In the case of Stickney Creek, the excessive water flow was a result of stormwater runoff traveling downstream over the city’s nearby impervious surfaces. However, the community was able to combat this issue through collective efforts to control the erosion in order to restore the nature of the creek.

During the time we spent at Stickney Creek, our main purpose was to stabilize the creek using natural restoration practices known as bioengineering. We worked alongside experts and volunteers from a nearby school to implement a variety of native plants around the creek. The vegetation was planted in different locations around the site to ensure thorough stabilization. These locations include along the stream banks, and in various wetland surroundings.

When the land becomes eroded and bare it only promotes more erosion because there is nothing to hold back the runoff. Bioengineering however, helps to stabilize the creek by slowing and reducing sediment overflow that would otherwise disrupt the proper soil structure. The incorporation of vegetation works to restore habitats and natural stream functions. An additional benefit of greenery on stream banks is that the plants are able to filter out any impurities that could potentially harm the aquatic ecosystem. Periodically keeping up with these plants helps to ensure that the stream is being maintained and that the erosion is under control.


West Creek Intern Natalie Feighan is a fourth year student at Cleveland State University studying Environmental Science and Biology. She is enthusiastic about preserving the natural environment and the interconnectedness between humanity and planet Earth. The community at West Creek has created an insightful and hands-on approach to conservation where she is able to develop the skills necessary to follow her passions and create a positive impact on the ecosystems that make up the Greater Cleveland area.