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Black River AOC Remediation & Restoration Program, Fish Shelves and Bulkhead Replacement Project


Black River AOC Remediation & Restoration Program, Fish Shelves and Bulkhead Replacement Project

Lorain, Ohio
Funded by the USEPA via the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)
LSYC Fish Habitat Shelves
Fish habitat shelf sign created as a component of public outreach efforts

Coldwater assisted the City of Lorain in obtaining a $15 million grant from USEPA, funding the Black River AOC Remediation and Restoration Program. The program consists of projects located in the lacustrine portion of the Black River within the City of Lorain. These projects focus on remediation and restoration of areas impacted by former steel mills and bulkheading of the river banks.  These areas will be remediated and restored to native riparian habitat. The Fish Shelves and Bulkhead Replacement Project at the Lorain Sailing and Yacht Club (LSYC) balanced the need for infrastructure protection with environmental restoration.

Applying site-specific approaches to aquatic habitat restoration can positively impact species abundance and diversity. On the Black River, the use of traditional aquatic habitat restoration comprised of earthen and rock bank build-outs has proven to be an effective replacement of the habitat removed through dredging and other historical industrial activities. However, modified and hardened shorelines provide limited opportunities for habitat improvement. Where the shorelines have been hardened using steel bulkheads, traditional fish shelves are not feasible, so a hybridized fish shelf was designed.

At the LSYC, over 650 feet of aging and failing bulkheads were replaced with a custom-designed bulkhead, fitted with steel chambers. Semi-cylindrical and box-like structures with fish access openings were affixed along the bulkheads in alternating intervals and at variable depths. The structures were filled with natural materials such as rock and woody debris. These materials provide habitat for a variety of fish, macroinvertebrates, and other wildlife in an environment that is otherwise void of such habitat. The fish shelves have been constructed and post-construction monitoring indicates that they are already supporting an improved diversity of fish species. Young-of-year largemouth bass observed during multiple sampling events suggest spawning activity and confirm usage of the shelves as refuge habitat. The LSYC fish shelves were completed in May of 2018.


Habitat Restoration Design
Biological Assessments
Construction Management

Environmental Permitting
Grant Administration
Public Outreach