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Paddlers can now travel through CVNP and into Cleveland after removal of 2 dams

Brecksville dam
Posted at 8:00 AM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 08:00:54-04

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio — Paddlers can now travel through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) and into Cleveland after a project years in the making removed the Brecksville Dam, officials from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park have announced.

The Brecksville Diversion Dam, built in the early 1950s for industrial use, and the historic Pinery Feeder Dam, built in 1827 to divert water from the Cuyahoga into the newly constructed Ohio & Erie Canal, have been removed, allowing the river to flow freely for the first time in over 190 years. The Brecksville Dam has been a major obstacle in the Cuyahoga River, requiring paddlers to move around it.

Station Road Bridge Area.

“Organizations and individuals throughout the region have been working for decades to rewrite the narrative about the Cuyahoga River from a source of shame and a symbol of environmental degradation to a source of pride and a symbol of renewal. We made it a point to align our goals with the phenomenal work that has made the Cuyahoga River the success story that it is today,” said CVNP Superintendent Craig Kenkel in a statement about the completion of the project.

The section of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail closest to the river remains closed. A parallel section still allows travel.

Brecksville Dam
This view on Day 6 shows the widened the notch in the Brecksville Diversion Dam with the Pinery Feeder Gate on right.

The next step in the project is to design and install a pump at the location where the Pinery Feeder Damn had provided water to the Ohio & Erie Canal. The canal section between Wilson Feed Mill and Rockside Road in Valley View is designated as a Historical Landmark. This section includes the restored Lock 38 in front of Canal Exploration Center. The canal will remain dry until the pump is installed in 2021, which will restore the water source to this important historical resource. The park will focus on improving the condition of the canal during this time.

The removal of the dams is a major milestone in achieving the "Wild and Scenic Rivers" designation and getting the river de-listed as an "Area of Concern." In 2016, the CVNP began a focused five-year effort to restore the condition and reputation of the Cuyahoga River within the national park by working with a variety of partners to create the Cuyahoga River Water Trail.

Removing the dams is expected to bring significant improvements in water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational access.