Mill Creek watershed is site of massive tree planting

Three hundred and fifty trees will be planted along Mill Creek, a tributary to the Cuyahoga River, as a result of a $17,500 grant awarded to Western Reserve Land Conservancy by American Forests and the Alcoa Foundation.

The trees will be planted this fall in the largest remaining wetland along Mill Creek in the Village of Highland Hills as part of Reforest Our City, an initiative of the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute in partnership with the newly formed Mill Creek Watershed Partnership.

Volunteers will help with the tree-planting and mulching in specific areas of the 9.8 acre site. The trees will enhance wetland habitat and upland forest buffers in one of Ohio’s most densely populated counties.

“We can’t say enough about the commitment American Forests and Alcoa Foundation have made to the future of Cleveland and to those who will enjoy a rich tree canopy many years from now,” said Colby Sattler, the Land Conservancy’s urban forestry and natural resources project manager.

A local Alcoa representative said the tree-planting fits in with one of the company’s broader initiatives.

“Alcoa Foundation is proud to support the Western Land Conservancy expand and restore wetland habitat that is so vital to the health of our waterways,” said Cary Dell, Alcoa Cleveland Operations Communications Manager. “This initiative, which commenced in 2011, builds toward Alcoa’s goal of planting 10 million trees by 2020.”

In 2014, the nonprofit Land Conservancy completed the preservation of the 9.8-acre wetland complex along Mill Creek. The Mill Creek reforestation project will include controlling many of the invasive species that currently inhabit the property. Mill Creek is a tributary of the Cuyahoga River and falls within the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern.

“Ultimately, the work in this wetland complex will help improve habitat and water quality in the Cuyahoga Area of Concern and help bring the area closer to delisting by the United States Environmental Protection Agency,” said Meiring Borcherds, watershed coordinator for Mill Creek Watershed Partnership.

The removal of invasive species and the restoration of native vegetation through volunteer planting activities at the headwaters of Mill Creek will positively impact not only the 85,000 residents that live within the Mill Creek watershed, but also benefit a large portion of the 1.2 million people that live, work and play in Cuyahoga County.

About American Forests

American Forests’ mission is to restore threatened forest ecosystems and inspire people to value and protect urban and wildland forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many key milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. Since 1990, American Forests has planted nearly 50 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and in 45 countries, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at americanforests.org.

About Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately $480 million. Founded 63 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $615 million. In 2014, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the Company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2014, 58 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,000 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 700,000 people and 500 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

About Western Reserve Land Conservancy

Western Reserve Land Conservancy preserves natural areas and farmland in northern and eastern Ohio and helps revitalize cities statewide through its Thriving Communities Institute.  To date, the Land Conservancy has permanently preserved more than 560 properties and more than 42,000 acres.