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Ottawa River Stream Restoration

A restoration project is bringing much needed habitat in the Ottawa River where it flows through the main campus of the University of Toledo. In just three weeks, a team led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed work to address the three-quarters mile stretch with a variety of strategies. To mimic undercut banks, workers installed LUNKERS (see photos). They also strategically placed stones in the stream to vary the water flow. On the shoreline, some large stepping stones are bendway weirs that redirect water flow and reduce erosion.

The part of the Ottawa River running through the campus had been straightened and channelized for many years. Now, because of an initiative of the University administration, it is more welcoming to fish and other wildlife. The stream restoration part of the project is funded through the Ohio EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A national workshop on river remediation was held over three days on the campus of UT in early August. Attendees looked at restoration sites in the region including the one on the UT campus just outside the classroom door. In addition, workshops traveled to Swan Creek at Highland Park to see how a low-head dam was made more fish-friendly, to Camp Miakonda where a project is restoring Lake Sawyer and making other improvements, to Toledo Botanical Garden where river slow was restored, and to a site on the Ottawa near Secor Road where a tall dam was removed.

Workers stand on exposed LUNKERS (Little Underwater Neighborhood Keepers Encompassing Rheotactic Salmonids). The lunkers are 8-foot sections, with openings at the sides and the front. Water can flow all the way through. They mimic an undercut bank and provide shade and habitat. Workers are tying the lunkers into the bank with large stones and smaller gravel. Then they will be topped with soil and large flat stones.

Nearly complete. Lunkers are in place, topped with flat stones that can be walked on. The stream bank will be re-planted with native shrubs and trees. A rustic staircase of stones will lead from the parking lot to the river’s edge.


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