Beville Creek Restoration Project Underway

Oak Hall High School volunteers remove the wooden fence that Bevelle Creek’s previous owners built to stabilize the shoreline. The fence was removed to allow access to the creek during the restoration project.
Oak Hall High School volunteers remove the wooden fence that Bevelle Creek’s previous owners built to stabilize the shoreline. The fence was removed to allow access to the creek during the restoration project. Photo courtesy of Donald Musen.

Gainesville closed Cofrin Nature Park this April to restore the shoreline of Beville Creek, which runs through the park.

Due to the high cost of providing a man-made engineered solution, the city has opted for a more natural creek restoration process. However, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems expert and University of Florida professor Mark Clark said this may not be enough.

Although he prefers the park’s natural approach to the restoration project, Clark said shoreline erosion will continue to occur unless action is taken to fix where the creek drains out.

Beville Creek was developed before current storm water regulations. Clark said Cofrin Nature Park’s efforts are beneficial, but changes in the watershed may be necessary, which would require putting stone water basins in place or using low-impact development practices.

“Areas upstream are outside the control of the park itself,” Clark said. “When we build impervious surfaces like roads or houses or parking lots, the amount of water in the creek flows at a much more rapid rate, and that’s what causes the erosion.”

The creek is currently experiencing large collapses of sand due to this erosion and the instability of the previous owner’s attempts to stabilize the shoreline.

Previous landowners built a series of wooden wall structures along the shoreline before the city of Gainesville purchased Cofrin Park in 2003. Those structures have now subsided into the creek. They also inserted an iron culvert that goes under the trail. It was used as a bridge and changed how fast the water flowed, making it difficult for wildlife to come upstream, according to Habitat Naturalist Donald Musen, who is managing the Beville Creek project.

Musen said the park recently had high school volunteers from Gainesville’s Oak Hall School remove the wooden fences along the edge of the creek so his team can move forward with the restoration plans.

Instead of building a concrete wall, a combination of rock and wire baskets of rock will be used as edges along the creek, Musen said.

A series of inverted horseshoe shapes will be created in the creek bed to trap sand and create pools where wildlife can gather, which will raise the creek bed’s water level. And, the culvert pipe will be replaced with a pedestrian bridge.

“We have slotted 120 days,” Musen said. “We anticipate opening the park back up in the fall.”

The project’s funding will come from capital improvement dollars that were allocated by the city commission. The contractor’s bid is just under $200,000. Geoffrey Parks, Natural Resource Management Program Coordinator for the city of Gainesville, said without action the creek poses a safety issue for visitors. It also threatens park structures located near the creek such as picnic tables, the property house, driveways and fencing.

Without action, large quantities of sand flowing into the creek threaten to smother vegetation and burry its natural habitat.

Beville Creek flows from a lake in northwest Gainesville down through neighborhoods near Cofrin Nature Park, 4810 NW Eighth Ave, and then flows south by Sugarfoot Prairie Conservation Area. Parks said over such a great distance, Beville Creek is actually ditched or runs in concrete.

“Very little of that creek is actually natural in terms of an undisturbed undeveloped state that provides habitat for creek-side plants and animals, so that’s one real reason why Cofrin is important,” Parks said. “It is basically the one protected stretch of that creek where these plants and animals can exist.”

Clark said the park’s natural restoration solution can hold the creek for another 20, 30 or 40 years, however, it depends on what mother nature provides for weather. An extreme event such as a hurricane could cause new erosion or infrastructure damage.

“There have been a lot of stream restoration efforts that have been very successful throughout the United States and what the city is planning to do hits on a lot of those,” Clark said. “We’ll have to see how it goes.”

About Rebecca Kravetz

Rebecca is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news

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