Our City Online

Metro

Ravine cleaning causes concern for ‘urban oasis’

Walker Evans Walker Evans Ravine cleaning causes concern for ‘urban oasis’
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

The Dispatch wrote Ravine cleaning causes concern for OSU-area ‘urban oasis’

Monday, December 29, 2008

By Spencer Hunt

It’s easy to see why people who live in Glen Echo Ravine call their neighborhood an urban oasis. The steep, wooded valley and its slate shale cliffs form a natural backdrop for Clintonville and University District homes just minutes from Columbus’ busy Downtown.

The human-ravine marriage isn’t issue-free. It comes with decades of environmental baggage.

READ MORE

Print Friendly

Tags:

18 Responses to Ravine cleaning causes concern for ‘urban oasis’

  1. Rockmastermike December 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am

    The banks are Shale. Not “slate shale” – whatever THAT is. This is important.

    The guy talking about being disappointed that they’re not doing more “stream restoration” (beyond cleaning up construction damage) needs to remember a few things. Those are SHALE banks. They are SUPPOSED to erode. Restoring stream flow conditions to “normal” (unlikely to happen, perhaps not even possible at this point) will allow the area to quickly fix its own banks back to “natural” conditions. That’s probably the best possible solution. But those banks will ALWAYS be eroding quickly because the area is naturally made of fragile shale. That’s why it is a ravine in the first place.

    If someone tries to “re-create natural, sinuous stream channels and banks lined with native plants and trees” what would end up happening is that they would dump 30 tons of rip wrap on the banks to stabilize the banks artificially and plant some trees. Such a “managed stream” would be a gift for the folks who very stupidly built or bought houses on brittle shale over a down-cutting stream and now are watching them naturally slide downhill, but an erosion managed stream is not “natural” for that area by a wide margin. I suspect the homeowners would LOVE this kind of stream restoration, but saying this “natural” is just wrong.

    thank you, Public Utilities Department, for finally fixing the sewers. It’s disgusting, unhealthy, and has done a lot of damage.

  2. Tenzo December 29, 2008 1:44 pm at 1:44 pm

    looked at a house in that area when we were moving to Columbus.

    Seemed like a nice house, overlooking the ravine, newly renovated. Had a nice cement patio in the back of the house that quickly dipped down at the edge.

    So I climbed down the ravine a little bit to look up at the house.

    The top of the ravine had eroded under the cement patio up to five feet back. Someone had recently pounded in 2x4s right under the cement pad to stop it from breaking and tumbling down the hill.

    I could not believe that you could legally sell property like that. One inspection and it would have been condemned.

  3. lazyfish
    lazyfish December 29, 2008 4:07 pm at 4:07 pm

    Rockmastermike wrote The banks are Shale. Not “slate shale” – whatever THAT is. This is important.

    The guy talking about being disappointed that they’re not doing more “stream restoration” (beyond cleaning up construction damage) needs to remember a few things. Those are SHALE banks. They are SUPPOSED to erode. Restoring stream flow conditions to “normal” (unlikely to happen, perhaps not even possible at this point) will allow the area to quickly fix its own banks back to “natural” conditions. That’s probably the best possible solution. But those banks will ALWAYS be eroding quickly because the area is naturally made of fragile shale. That’s why it is a ravine in the first place.

    If someone tries to “re-create natural, sinuous stream channels and banks lined with native plants and trees” what would end up happening is that they would dump 30 tons of rip wrap on the banks to stabilize the banks artificially and plant some trees. Such a “managed stream” would be a gift for the folks who very stupidly built or bought houses on brittle shale over a down-cutting stream and now are watching them naturally slide downhill, but an erosion managed stream is not “natural” for that area by a wide margin. I suspect the homeowners would LOVE this kind of stream restoration, but saying this “natural” is just wrong.

    thank you, Public Utilities Department, for finally fixing the sewers. It’s disgusting, unhealthy, and has done a lot of damage.

    not really interested in getting into a pissing match with a rock master….

    there is slate and shale in the ravine….the slate is by the Calumet bridge.

    http://seis.natsci.csulb.edu/bperry/metarock/SLATE.htm

    SLATE The parent rock for slate is shale, a relatively soft sedimentary rock.As shale becomes deeply buried its clay minerals neomorphose into chlorite and muscovite mica crystals. These crystals fuse together forming a denser and harder rock that has planes of weakness, called cleavage, formed due to the flattening of the crystals perpendicular to the directions of pressure. Simultaneously, the pressure causes the rock to fracture along shear planes, forming slaty cleavage along which slate will readily split. Note that slate is a low-grade metamorphic rock, formed due to relatively low pressure and temperature conditions. Big slabs of slate have been used as chalkboards in the past, and can still be seen in the Alps as shingles on the roofs of houses.

    Many older neighborghoods have slate sidewalks (very slippery when wet), and many roofs are still done in slate…all are from local Columbus sources

    I would love to hike the ravine with you Mike and point out the problems that Columbus Utilities created.

    Much of the ravine has been infilled with rubble and dirt, so stream restoration would be a viable option in those areas….the neighbors and Friends of Glen Echo Ravine got grant funding to do restoration work in the upper section of the ravine, but it is already being destroyed by the vast amounts of storm water run off. If you get a chance to check out the section behind White Castle and Giant Eagle you can see how Utilities is in the process of destroying a beautiful shale cliff by putting in storm water pipes.

    Have you walked the ravine from I-71 to the Olerntangy? I would love to take a couple hour hike and show you the various problems. send me a pm if interested.

  4. Rockmastermike December 29, 2008 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm

    lazyfish wrote

    Many older neighborghoods have slate sidewalks (very slippery when wet), and many roofs are still done in slate…all are from local Columbus sources

    I don’t think any of the shales found locally are up to the metamorphic grade of a true slate. At best they are a compacted shale, but still shale.

    But that’s a judgment and is neither here nor there.

    lazyfish wrote

    I would love to hike the ravine with you Mike and point out the problems that Columbus Utilities created.

    Have you walked the ravine from I-71 to the Olerntangy? I would love to take a couple hour hike and show you the various problems. send me a pm if interested.

    actually, yes I have, but it has been a few years.

    Look, I think we’re on the same page here, though.

    I wasn’t saying that the utilities were not causing problems, there IS a lot that needs cleaned up, and I’m all in favor of cleaning up things and restoring more natural flow. (the last is the most important I think). Clearing up places that have been infilled with debris and such is a good thing. I wasn’t suggesting the stream shouldn’t be spruced up.

    I was pointing out (perhaps not clearly) that a certain kind of “stream restoration” erosion control that is often performed by otherwise well meaning people (covering banks with large chunks of limestone “rip wrap” and calling it “stabilized”) would be really REALLY unnatural in this setting and that, while I am sure some of the homeowners would love this to happen, it would not be “natural”. Unfortunately I’ve found that a LOT of people think this is an “ideal” solution for streams.

    I think we’re both in agreement that restoring it to a more natural stream and letting it erode the way it used to erode before it ended up being used as a drainage culvert would be a very good thing.

    But when I read that article it sounded like that guy was suggesting the banks should be stabilized in some way, like with limestone rip wrap, and I had an image of what that would look like… I’ve seen it too many times…horrible.

  5. HeySquare
    HeySquare December 29, 2008 4:56 pm at 4:56 pm

    lazyfish wrote Many older neighborghoods have slate sidewalks (very slippery when wet), and many roofs are still done in slate…all are from local Columbus sources.

    I was actually under the impression that most of the historic slate used for roofing material in Columbus was from Pennsylvania. I don’t believe any of the new slate used for roofing purposes is local… I know when I had my roof done last year, I believe my roofing slate was shipped in from Vermont. The company Durable Slate may have “local” slate, but that’s because it’s salvaged from local buildings, not quarried here.

  6. Rockmastermike December 29, 2008 5:30 pm at 5:30 pm

    HeySquare wrote

    I was actually under the impression that most of the historic slate used for roofing material in Columbus was from Pennsylvania. I don’t believe any of the new slate used for roofing purposes is local.

    I am pretty sure you’re correct.

    I suspect part of the problem that we had in this thread is the difference between the definitions used by building stone suppliers and those used by geologists. I have some large chunks of paving stone here in my yard that are CLEARLY shale and clearly different from roofing grade slate, but I’m willing to bet someone sold them with a “slate” sign. I’ve also seen lots of lovely gneisses and basalts being sold as “granite” countertops.

  7. alison
    alison December 29, 2008 6:14 pm at 6:14 pm

    It also sounds like there is a clear distinction between “naturalized” and “stabilized”, and that truely “restoring” the stream would end up undermining the structures perched on the edge.

    (Could I possibly work in more “quotation marks”?)

  8. Rockmastermike December 29, 2008 6:24 pm at 6:24 pm

    alison wrote It also sounds like there is a clear distinction between “naturalized” and “stabilized”, and that truely “restoring” the stream would end up undermining the structures perched on the edge.

    (Could I possibly work in more “quotation marks”?)

    I think you hit the “nail” on the “head” there, actually. :)

  9. Manatee
    Manatee December 29, 2008 8:03 pm at 8:03 pm

    WOW! Using alkaline limestone to shore up acidic shale sounds like a really bad idea, soil/flora/fauna-wise.

    …so I hope that won’t be done. But yes, no more sewage would be nice.

  10. mightymighty
    mightymighty December 29, 2008 8:30 pm at 8:30 pm

    Wowsers! When I was young and in college we used to go down in to that ravine from time to time (we also used to break into other abandoned places like the Old Pen, but another story). I haven’t thought about that place in a long while

    There are lots of interesting spaces down in Walhalla, and I hope they are able to keep them while creating a ecological and benifitial stream/run-off system & preserve it.

  11. Rockmastermike December 29, 2008 9:46 pm at 9:46 pm

    Manatee wrote WOW! Using alkaline limestone to shore up acidic shale sounds like a really bad idea, soil/flora/fauna-wise.

    You might be amazed at what some contractors do. :(

  12. Alex Silbajoris
    alexs December 30, 2008 9:47 am at 9:47 am

    The streams in Highbanks also show scouring from stormwater surges off all the hard surfaces along 23.

    Look up “downspout disconnect” to see some ideas for reducing stormwater surges. I did one here at home.

  13. Stu Nicholson
    noozer December 30, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm

    If you really want to get an idea of what storm runoff looks like…and (thus) an idea about why it needs to be reduced… go down by the Olentangy anywhere there is a drain or ravine that empties into it during a rain storm and see it what gushes out first-hand.

    The runoff from impervious streets and parking lots is huge, and what comes from our home downspouts only adds to it. Dry wells and rain barrels are a good solution at home. It would be good to see the city look at things like pourous pavement that allows rain to soak in rather than run-off…and encourage developers to do the same as they pave or re-pave parking lots.

  14. chrisgillespie
    chrisgillespie December 30, 2008 1:40 pm at 1:40 pm

    I’m going to have to hike these ravines this spring. They sound like something to see. I’ve lived here over 5 years, now, but am just scratching the surface on all Columbus has to offer. I’ve seen the swamp cabbage blooming near Riverside Drive in Dublin and hiked around Camp Mary Orton with locals, but that’s about it. I’ve seen ravines when visiting friends in Clintonville, but only from a distance. Sounds like they are an area treasure. More people appreciating them would make it most likely that responsible cleanup is performed. I’m looking forward to seeing them up close and personal.

  15. Alex Silbajoris
    alexs December 31, 2008 9:59 am at 9:59 am

    The USGS has stream gauge information online, you can set these to display the previous 1 – 31 days

    http://sciotoriverfriends.org/stream_gauges.html

    (edited to add) Compare the Delaware and Worthington levels to see the influence of all the runoff from hard surfaces in the Rt. 23 corridor between the Delaware dam and Worthington. They often close the dam in heavy rains so there is almost no flow on that gauge, while at the same hour there are many thousands of cubic feet per second (CFS) at Worthington.

    The dam is the last point of control; everything after that is wild. The only mitigations of runoff are the various detention ponds, etc. No wonder the people living along the river in places like Mt. Air and Northmoor Park are sweating bullets.

    As for the sewer overflows, you can monitor them here:

    http://gis.columbus.gov/ssocso/

  16. alison
    alison December 31, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am

    chrisgillespie wrote I’m going to have to hike these ravines this spring. They sound like something to see.

    I wonder if the Park Service or some other organization does nature hikes there?

    How much of the space we’re talking about is private property?

  17. chrisgillespie
    chrisgillespie January 2, 2009 1:32 pm at 1:32 pm

    Ah. I guess I assumed from the article and all that this was something public, not necessarily parks department, but not privately owned by the homeowners. Anyway, I’m friends with someone involved in this discussion, and was actually thinking I could get a personal tour or be guided to where to go and not go. However, public and private areas is good point for anyone who doesn’t actually know someone familiar with the ravines. I didn’t mean for people to swarm there hiking — although I wouldn’t expect that to happen, anyway. Obviously, anyone should find out what is public or private before just wandering around other peoples’ property…

  18. StinkPalm January 17, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am

    I grew up on Glenmawr 1/2 block from the ravine. No one ever called it a ravine though; it was just called “the glen.” I spent all of my childhood playing in and around the glen. The sledding there was awesome! The paved road leading down from North 4th Street and Cliffside was called “the 500.” No idea why, but that was what we called it. We used to carry buckets/pots of water from our houses (yes we ended up very wet) to pour at the top so we could get a good fast start on our sleds. It was a good run if you could make it down across the bridge, but more often than not you would end up in the gutter that ran on the south side of the run. The hills just across the bridge were the CRAZY runs. They were not for the meek. We would trudge up to the top of the slate/shale/whatever hill and pick our poison. If you had a disc sled you might try the run that looped over to the creek. That was a true gamble as there was a high probability of going over into the creek from a good height. That really sucked. Bruised, bleeding and soaking wet made for a tough walk home. If you tried it on your Flexible Flyer you were doomed from the start, no way were the rails making that tight turn. We would try to warn people who wandered in from other neighborhoods not to try it, but they were usually grown-ups and there was no reasoning with them. (Life lesson #1: when a kid tells you not to do something reckless and stupid DON’T DO IT! If it is too reckless and stupid for a kid it should not be attempted, period.) The run to the right of the middle was called the “Nutcracker,” it was the only other run with a name. It had a railroad tie 1/2 way down that made it a very aptly named run. Usually we went down the runs in the middle. No sharp turns over creeks or things to crack your nuts, but if you could make it all the way to the creek you had earned the right to hoot and holler. Trees were a constant danger on all the runs and many of us went home crying from time to time, but man was it fun. I miss the glen.

Want to comment?

Login or register first.

Lost your password?

metro categories