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Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek
Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek
Welcome to Mill Creek Restoration Project

Greenways are corridors of linear open space with trees and other vegetation that
connect people and places together and wildlife with their habitat.

Page Content

Benefits of the Mill Creek Greenway System

The Mill Creek greenway program provides a sound strategy for achieving multiple environmental, economic and social objectives. The development of a Mill Creek greenway system will improve water quality, aquatic and wildlife habitat, and overall health of the Mill Creek corridor ecosystem. The greenway system will physically change the face of the landscape over time, eliminating urban blight and creating a more beautiful and enjoyable experience for citizens and neighborhoods.

The greenway system provides new and renewed park, recreation, and alternative transportation opportunities. Its creation provides "soft engineering" methods of managing stormwater, preventing pollution and reducing damage caused by flooding. The greenway system will stimulate economic activity, increase property values, and significantly improve the quality of life in inner-city and first ring suburban neighborhoods. The greenway system supports and enhances the City s and County s efforts to retain and attract new residents.

The Mill Creek Greenway is multi-objective, and incorporates the public process into all phases of its development and vision for a 28-mile long series of greenway trails; beginning in Butler County, traveling through the heart of the region to the confluence of Mill Creek and the mighty Ohio River.

Multi-Objective Greenway Development Includes:

  • Ecological Regeneration
  • Clean Water/Healthy Habitat
  • Brownfields Cleanup and Redevelopment
  • Stormwater Management and Flood Damage Reduction
  • Land Use Planning and Floodplain Management
  • Environmental Education
  • Job Training and Employment
  • Parks/Recreation
  • Economic Development and Public Participation
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Land Management and Stewardship
  • Housing and Community Revitalization
  • Alternative Transportation: Hike/Bike Trails and Transportation Hubs

Mill Creek Greenway Program History and Current Progress

The Vision
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The Mill Creek Greenway Trail will physically transform the Mill Creek corridor and watershed,located in the geographic heart of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. This multi-objective program will help to eliminate blight; economically revitalize Mill Creek neighborhoods and communities; create jobs; stimulate the local economy; increase Mill Creek's visibility; regenerate the health of the river and its natural resources; and provide opportunities for bike commuting, people-powered short trips, multi-modal transportation, recreation, outdoor exercise, and environmental education.

To maximize the public use and value of this initiative, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek will integrate trail furnishings (e.g., bike racks, benches, picnic tables, fencing and signs) made from reused/recycled materials; incorporate green technologies (e.g., solar-powered or energy efficient lighting at trail heads, trail paving materials from shredded rubber tires and porous asphalt); install public art; and create physical exercise stations, in consultation with health organizations.

Greenway Projects in the First Ten Years (1999-2008)

mcrpBetween 1997 and 1999, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek lead an intensive community-based planning process that culminated in the completion of the comprehensive Mill Creek Watershed Greenway Master Plan. Other major partners in this effort included the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services, the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, the Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities, and the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

Starting in 1999 with no money, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek has raised over $4 million from private donors, businesses, civic organizations, and local, state and federal sources to support initial implementation of the greenway plan. In 1999, the City of Cincinnati created the Mill Creek Greenway Program for its portion of the Mill Creek watershed and Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek has served as the City's project manager since that time.

Over the past ten years, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek and its partners have completed fifteen ecological and engineering studies and a total of twenty-eight diverse Mill Creek Greenway projects, including five projects in the Mill Creek headwaters in Butler County, three in the Village of Woodlawn, and twenty in the City of Cincinnati. The studies have provided the scientific underpinning for greenway projects that include:

  • Planting Mill Creek Freedom Trees (Ohio native hardwood trees) along the river.
  • Restoration or regeneration of streambanks, wetlands, floodplain areas and wildlife habitat (on land and in the creek).
  • Development of the Laughing Brook wetland, public art and stormwater demonstration project that showcases sustainable design and practices.
  • Installation of rain gardens and reforestation at three Cincinnati Public Schools.
  • Construction of greenway trails.
  • Recruitment and training for thousands of students and community volunteers who have assisted with the Mill Creek fieldwork.

Completed FY 2009 Work

  • Constructing the first half mile of the 3.4 mile Queen City-South Mill Creek Greenway Trail that will follow along the river between Mitchell Avenue and the Mill Creek Road bridge in South Cumminsville. Major Phase 1 partners include the City of Cincinnati, Clean Ohio Trail Fund, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek donors and volunteers, and the public property owner, the Mill Creek Valley Conservancy District.


  • Restoring and enhancing the Mill Creek Freedom Tree grove in Northside that adjoins the first segment of the Queen City-South Mill trail.

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  • Serving as a community adviser to the Metropolitan Sewer District for its development of the Caldwell-Seymour trail, located between Caldwell Park and Este Avenue.

  • Expanding and maintaining the rain gardens surrounding the Laughing Brook wetland and public art project in Salway Park, located across the street from the Spring Grove Cemetery.

  • Managing invasive and aggressive plant species (e.g., honeysuckle and wintercreeper) at the Caldwell Park streambank stabilization site, at the North Fairmount prairie habitat restoration site, and at the Salway Park native species nursery.

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  • Securing $500,000 from the Clean Ohio Trail Fund for the second phase of the Queen City-South Mill Creek trail to begin in early 2010. The State requires a cash match of 25% of the total cost for a Clean Ohio Trail project. This means Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek must raise and spend $167,000 on design and construction expenses before it is eligible to receive the State grant in 2010. That's where our donors come in!

Greenway Work in 2010 and Beyond

Over the next two years, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek plans to complete the 3.4 mile Queen City-South Mill Creek Greenway Trail and to work as requested with the City of St. Bernard to link the community to the trail via the historic Miami-to-Erie Canal corridor. This high visibility trail will serve as a catalyst for creating the envisioned network of Mill Creek trails in Hamilton County.

Over the next five years, Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek plans to complete a continuous 13.5 mile Greenway Trail from the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Carthage to the Ohio River (please visit the Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek website to see a map). From the confluence with the Ohio River, the Mill Creek trail will connect to the Central Riverfront Park and the Ohio River Trail.

And, in an exciting development this year, representatives from a number of Mill Creek suburban communities have been meeting to explore their mutual interest in connecting to each other and the Mill Creek Greenway Trail. The communities include Blue Ash, Glendale, Evendale, Reading and Sharonville. In addition, the Hamilton County Park District and the West Fork Mill Creek Sub-watershed communities of Woodlawn, Springfield Township and Wyoming are working to link Winton Woods Park, their communities, and the Mill Creek Greenway Trail together. Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek will serve as an advisor and resource to all of these communities as needed and requested.

By New Year's Eve, 2019, look for the completion of at least twenty miles of Mill Creek Greenway Trails!

2009 Special Thanks To
  • U.S. Representative Steve Driehaus and U. S. Senator Sherrod Brown for their letters of support for Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek's application for $1.5 million in Federal Stimulus Funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation, to underwrite the third, largest phase of the Queen City-South Mill Creek Greenway Trail.
  • Hamilton County Commission President David Pepper and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune for agreeing in October that Hamilton County would submit the Stimulus application to the Federal Department of Transportation on Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek's behalf, because this particular program required government applicants.
  • Ohio State Senator Eric Kearney for his leadership on preventing and reducing childhood obesity rates in Ohio and for his commitment to champion Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek's application for FY 2010-2011 Ohio Capital Funds for the Queen City-South Mill Trail.

  • Ohio State Representative Denise Driehaus for participating in a Mill Creek tour this fall and for her expression of support for Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek's work.
  • Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls for her leadership on the I-75 Revive planning process launched by the City this fall to revitalize Mill Creek corridor neighborhoods, and for her efforts to create viable multi-modal transportation options - including the Mill Creek Greenway Trail -- for Greater Cincinnati.


Mill Creek Greenway Documents

Economic Research Institute (AERI) report

OSU Economic Analysis for Mill Creek Greenway Trail.

Laughing Brook Article, "The Cincinnati Herald" 6-7-08

Aerial photograph of Laughing Brook

Review the Mill Creek Watershed Greenway Master Plan 3.18 MB (3,339,749 bytes)

Stream Survey - Map 17
Bikeways and Trail Map - Map 16
Parks and Historic Sites - Map 15 / Key - Map 15
Potential Sources of Water Pollution - Map 14
Transportation Systems - Map 13
Land Use - Map 12
Pilot Projects - Map 11
Greenway System - Map 3
Political Jurisdictions - Map 2
Hydrologic Inventory - Map 1