Get Involved: Tracking Streambank Erosion and Sedimentation

The spring thaw has occurred and the 2015 sampling season is ramping up. While we will be doing our traditional water quality sampling throughout the Rocky River watershed, we will also be doing additional streambank erosion assessments in the Baldwin Creek watershed. Baldwin Creek is a tributary to the East Branch of the Rocky River that has been identified as a source of excess sediment.

Cuyahoga SWCD uses the Cleveland Metroparks modified Bank Erosion Hazard Index (BEHI) assessment methodology to assess streambank erosion potential in the Baldwin Creek watershed. BEHI looks at several streambank characteristics to determine a streambanks erosion potential:

  • Streambank protection from roots, boulders, and woody debris
  • Streambank angle or undercutting (when the top of the stream bank hangs out over the water)
  • Stratification (multiple geologic layers)
  • Materials (streambanks made of sand are more likely to erode than streambanks made of clay)
  • Root depth within the streambank
  • Density of roots within the streambank

Using scores developed for each of these characteristics we can rank a streambank's erosion potential from low to high and prioritize areas of a stream for stabilization projects.

While doing this stream work is fun, it is Cuyahoga SWCD's policy that when in the stream you need a friend for safety. Last year Cuyahoga SWCD partnered with the Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Volunteer Program (WVP) to ensure that staff always had a companion when out doing stream sampling. If you are intrigued by streams, and looking to help out, the WVP program is a great place to start.

It just so happens that the Cleveland Metroparks has a BEHI field training session this weekend from 1:30pm to 4:30pm on Saturday, April 25th. Cuyahoga SWCD encourages you to attend this workshop and learn more about how we are identifying streambank erosion and prioritizing areas for stabilization within the Baldwin Creek watershed and Metroparks watersheds.

Want to know more?

Check out maps of local BEHI data here:


Watch a brief Metroparks video about BEHI here:

BEHI on Youtube

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