After having completed development of 19 mitigation and habitat sites since the mid-1980s, the Port of Tacoma’s most recent site — Place of Circling Waters — is a model for the port industry on how to select locations with the most ecological benefit and to create mitigation sites that can meet multiple habitat needs.
The Place of Circling Waters is an approximately 30-acre consolidated habitat area that provides freshwater and intertidal marsh, forested wetlands and riparian habitat along salmon-bearing Hylebos Creek. As a former gravel mine and inert waste disposal site, the project area presented many unforeseen challenges and required trade-offs between cleanup and mitigation obligations while managing conflicting environmental, engineering and regulatory requirements. When completed, the restoration site — at a cost of about $8.3 million—replaced invasive species with nearly 35,000 native plants, removed 255,000 tons of contaminated soil and debris, restored a ravine ravaged by a half-century of mining, and created extensive new intertidal and freshwater habitat.
Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority -“Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve: A Unique Urban Wildlife Haven on Lake Erie”(Click here for full report)
In February 2012, the port authority opened the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve — formerly known as Dike 14 — to the public. Located just a few miles from downtown Cleveland on an 88-acre peninsula, the preserve has become a haven for diverse species of migratory birds, butterflies and animals, as well as home to several research projects and an outdoor classroom for local students. As the only lakefront wildlife preserve in Cuyahoga County, it’s drawing more than 500 visitors a week to its 1.2 miles of shoreline and 1.3-mile loop trail intended for passive recreation such as walking, nature observation, research and education.
At an initial cost of about $50,000, the port authority took what was once a closed, confined disposal area for dredged material and turned it into a public amenity, demonstrating that “waste” sediment can be a resource beneficial to the community, plant and wildlife habitat. A study completed before the preserve’s opening found that six natural areas on Lake Erie generated more than $26 million in economic impact and created 283 local jobs. Like these others, the port hopes that the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve will also be an economic driver of eco-tourism for the region.