Willoughby Receives $1.7 Million in Grant Funding for Conservation Project


The City of Willoughby’s Chagrin River Floodplain Land Conservation Project was selected to receive grant funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate-Ready Coasts Initiative. These funds will be used to acquire 105 acres of riparian habitat along the Chagrin River.

The city will partner with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Chagrin River Watershed Partners on this initiative. This conservation project will provide critical habitat that will increase climate resiliency, improve public access, and contribute to a growing conservation and recreation corridor along the river, from downtown Willoughby to Lake Erie.

“We are thrilled to be one of four cities in Ohio selected for this funding, “said Mayor Bob Fiala. “This award is a critical step in protecting scarce land along the Chagrin River and increasing public access.”

The overall project includes the creation of wetlands and vernal pools, the decommissioning of an idled nursery, the removal of evasive plant species, walking trails, water quality improvements, riverbank erosion controls, and the development of an environmental studies curriculum for ages K through college.

“The benefits of this project are immense for the entire region, “said Judean Keller, Director of Willoughby’s Parks and Recreation. “First, we are protecting 105 acres of land that will now have public access while improving the water quality of the Chagrin River, and this is a win-win for the community.”

The newly acquired acres are a key link in starting the Chagrin River Trail portion of the vision. This trail is a 1.5-mile path connecting Daniels Park to Todd Field along the Chagrin River. The goal is to provide better public access to the beauty of the Chagrin River and connectivity between two existing parks. The city has secured funding from various sources to start this project and is actively seeking other grants to assist.