Environment & Energy

photo of Brecksville Dam
MEG PLONA / CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

The Cuyahoga River is now flowing freely in Brecksville. Crews have completed removal of the Brecksville Diversion Dam and historic Pinery Feeder Dam. Now that the first phase is completed, phase two of the dam removal project is set to begin soon.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park deputy superintendent Lisa Petit says phase two focuses on the decrease in water level and flow through the canal.

“Phase two is to create, or to fabricate and install a pump that will take water from the river and pull it into the canal to maintain water in the canal” says Petit.

A photo of Perry Nuclear Plant
JERRY SHARP / SHUTTERSTOCK

The head of an energy research nonprofit in Cleveland hopes the corruption scandal surrounding a utility bailout will ultimately help Ohio move forward. Sandy Buchanan is the executive director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

She wants to see House Bill 6, the bailout that saved FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants, repealed but not replaced.

She said the bill is poor policy and holds Ohio back.

a photo of the Ohio Statehouse
EYE ON OHIO

Both Republican and Democratic Ohio lawmakers are pushing to repeal the state’s nuclear bailout bill after this week’s release of a federal criminal complaint against House Speaker Larry Householder and others. Clean energy advocates say that would be a start, but more is needed to address eight years of lawmakers’ actions to slow the growth of renewables in the state.

A photo of the Gorge Dam.
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

The city of Akron is getting a $1 million grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to help pay for removing the Gorge Dam from the Cuyahoga River. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the funds during a visit to Akron Tuesday.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said the city will continue to work with stakeholders and partners to help secure the rest of the funds for the $65 million project.  

Cuyahoga River in Cascade Park
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

Summit Metro Parks will use a $2.5 million dollar grant to continue one of its largest ecological restorations.

The project involves a 1-mile stretch of the Cuyahoga River and adjacent flood plain in the Valley View Area of Cascade Valley Metro Park in Akron.

Summit Metro Parks Chief of Conservation Mike Johnson said the project will include a larger parking lot and additional river access.

Solar array
DOVETAIL WIND AND SOLAR

Clean energy advocates say the industry in Ohio has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. An analysis of Labor Department data by the group Environmental Entrepreneurs or E2 finds more than 20,000 Ohioans who worked in the clean energy industry have filed for unemployment since March.

That’s almost 20% of the more than 114,000 employed in the industry at the end of last year.

Micaela Preskill is from E2. She says the industry needs policymakers' support to get back on track.

With dredged material now viewed as a marketable commodity, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local agencies are seeking public input on a new 20-year dredging plan for Cleveland Harbor.

For nearly 50 years, dredged material has been stored in confined disposal facilities, isolating what was dredged from adjacent waterways. 

photo of Pinery Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

For decades, supporters of cleaner water have been working to rid the Cuyahoga River of its dams, which impede the flow of water.

Restoring that flow is improving water quality and providing new opportunities for wildlife and recreation on the river.

The latest project -- removing the Brecksville Dam -- has revealed a bit of history that dates back almost 200 years.

photo of Pinery Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The Brecksville Dam removal project hit a milestone this week, as waters receded enough to reveal the historic Pinery Dam that’s been submerged since the 1950s.

The older, wooden dam is nearly 200 years old and was intended to divert water from the Cuyahoga River to the Ohio & Erie Canal just to the east. It’s currently being studied by Cuyahoga Valley National Park historians.

photo of smokestacks
JAMES KELLY / SHUTTERSTOCK

For decades, factories in Cleveland's Industrial Valley have sent smoke and even fire out of their smokestacks – a process known as “flaring.”

Margaret Liske from Hudson has always wondered about the smokestacks along I-77 near Cleveland.

“They belch out huge, high billows of smoke and -- at night -- fire. Why is this potential heat not somehow recycled [or] reused?”

For the answer, we asked Krishna Rao, a chemical engineer who recently retired as president of Valley View-based plastics firm, Nanofilm.

People in the eastern United States are getting a treat this spring - if you consider more cicadas than usual a treat. Five different cicada broods have emerged instead of the one that was expected.

A Republican-backed bill to prohibit communities from banning plastic bags and other disposable containers passed the Senate on a mostly party line vote, after a significant change related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A photo of ribbon cutting for Summit Lake loop trail
TIM FITZWATER

The Knight Foundation has committed another round of funding to Akron projects that aim to "Reimagine the Civic Commons."

Akron will receive $1.6 million to extend efforts to revitalize public spaces in the Summit Lake neighborhood, develop the new Ohio and Erie Canal Park and continue work downtown with Locks 2, 3, and 4.

Knight Foundation’s Akron Program Director Kyle Kutuchief says the racial and economic diversity of these areas represent Akron.

photo of Happy Days Lodge
MARK URYCKI / WKSU

Couples who want to get married in Cuyahoga Valley National Park have a new option next month – pop-up weddings designed around social distancing.

The park is partnering with wedding planners Haus of Cool to provide wedding packages for groups up to 10 people. They’ll offer six weddings per day on six dates this summer.

Leedco wind farm
WKSU

The proposed Icebreaker wind farm project in Lake Erie has received approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board -- but with a potentially fatal caveat about when the turbines can operate.

photo of Brecksville Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

It was the beginning of the end of the Brecksville Dam today. Crews started the process of deconstructing the dam. That began with notching a hole for sediment to flow through the concrete structure.

A new report places Cleveland 29th in the nation for its park system, up six spots from its ranking in a similar study last year.

The ParkScore index from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) looks at various factors to determine the quality of a city’s park system, including accessibility, size, amenities and financial investment.

Updated: 5:27 p.m., Thursday, June 4, 2020.

Cleveland Botanical Garden in University Circle will reopen its outdoor trails and gardens to both members and the public June 10. 

Holden Forests and Gardens recently reopened Holden Arboretum to the public, with additional guidelines to help maintain social distancing. The arboretum opened to members May 12.

Visiting the arboretum and botanical garden now require reservations, with maximum group sizes limited to 10 people.

a lake in Canton
/ STARK PARKS

The results of Tuesday's primary will determine whether Stark Parks will have the money it needs to keep the system operational.

If a renewal levy on the ballot passes, Stark Parks will be able to keep open thousands of acres of hiking and biking trails and marinas.

Last November voters defeated a parks levy that include a slight increase over the current levy.

Ohio's bald eagle population is making a strong comeback, according to the 2020 nest census from the Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

Climate Change Threatens Great Lakes Shoreline With Erosion

Apr 18, 2020

Climate change is increasing erosion on what’s known as the nation’s “third coast” — the Great Lakes shoreline. And that’s threatening beaches, parks and other recreation areas used by people from cities across the region. 

View of Lake Erie
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

To paraphrase a quote from the 1990s sitcom "NewsRadio": Winter in Northeast Ohio is the best seven months of the year.  But that may not be true in the future. The four warmest winters on record occurred in the past decade.  This edition of WKSU’s OH Really? answers a listener question about how climate change might affect Northeast Ohio in the future.

Updated: 3:00 p.m.

Cincinnati City Council Member Chris Seelbach has announced the city could soon have a blanket ban on single use plastic bags. Seelbach said stores that sell food, including restaurants, will not be allowed to use these bags starting Jan. 1, 2021, if City Council approves the ordinance.

photo of Dane Johnson, Karen Lakus, Beth Robb, Cleveland MetroParks
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

There’s just one weekend left to get a taste of maple sugaring in the Cleveland MetroParks. The climate in Northeast Ohio makes it ideal for collecting sap from maple trees.

Groups Seeking Clevelanders' Vision For The Valley

Feb 28, 2020

The City of Cleveland, MetroParks, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and other local groups are asking what Clevelanders want to see in the Flats – and beyond. 

They’re looking for input on a long-term plan for the Cuyahoga River Valley, from Steelyard Commons to the lakefront. At a public listening session this week at Forest City Brewery, the groups explained the process and asked for ideas.

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