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Useful Resources for Property Research

Cuyahoga SWCD provides technical assistance to landowners within Cuyahoga County as part of our countywide mission. When a property owner contacts Cuyahoga SWCD staff listen to the concern and work with the property owner to fully understand the situation. Part of our research includes consulting a myriad of resources that provide valuable context. The following is a list of the various resources we often consult and a brief description of what those resources provide.

Web Soil Survey:

This is a map based USDA website that allows users to zero in on their address. Once the address is entered the user can explore the databases to investigate various properties of soil such as building development suitability, soil health, vegetation productivity, and much more.

Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSDs):

Using information gained from the Web Soil Survey a user can type in the code for the various soil types and get an extensive description about that specific soil type. Descriptions often include soil composition (i.e. silt, sand, or clay), estimated depth to water table, estimated depth to a restrictive layer (i.e. bedrock), drainage characteristics, typical land use type.

Archived Soil Survey Manuscripts:

In Cuyahoga County much of the information related to official soil surveys is available online. It is useful though to consult the older paper copies of the county soil survey. Given that it has been nearly 40 years since a paper copy of the Cuyahoga Soil survey has been published the best options is to view a scanned copy online. The narrative sections related to sub-surface drainage and suitability for basements is always helpful.

Google Earth:

Google Earth is free software which is best known for displaying current aerial photography. Other features on Google Earth include various measuring tools, select archival imagery dating back to 1994, and a multitude of map layers.

Historic Aerial Photography:

If Google Earth does not provide sufficient archival aerial images the Cleveland Public Library has an extensive catalog of high resolution digital scans of historic aerial photographs. These photographs date back to 1951 and can provide insight into former buildings, changing water courses, and historic land uses.

Stream Stats:

This United States Geological Survey map based website allows user to search a geographic area and identified nearby streams and rivers. The site includes a variety of measuring tools to help categorize streams. Additionally, it identifies where stream gages are installed and provides a link to the data collected on those streams.

Tree Planting Guides:

The Urban Tree Foundation does not provide specific information about a geographic area. Instead it provides guidelines and best practices for planting trees in an urban environment. Trees offer a variety of benefits related to erosion control, stormwater detention, and water uptake (i.e. drainage issues). Planting them correctly the first time and taking care of them will ensure they thrive and provide all the benefits described.

Cleveland Metroparks: Landscaping for Biodiversity with Ohio Native Plants

The Cleveland Metroparks publication “Landscaping for Biodiversity with Ohio Native Plants" is a compendium of native plants in Ohio. This resource is delineated by plant height, bloom color, sun/shade tolerance, soil moisture tolerance, plant type, etc. Similar to the tree planting guide, researching and choosing appropriate plants will ensure that selected plants perform as intended.

By familiarizing yourself with these resources property owners can gain a better understanding of their surrounding environment and how to best interact with it.

Blog author: Brent A. Eysenbach, Stormwater Program Manager

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