Growing up in North Royalton, Ohio with woods and a stream in his backyard, Peter Bode has always been in and around nature.
Bode would go on to attend Cleveland State University where he received an Environmental Science degree.
After graduating, he became the Cuyahoga River Watershed coordinator for six years before being hired by the West Creek Conservancy where he works today. He’s been asked to work on projects anywhere from Sandusky to Ashtabula, but says most of his time right now is spent with the Cuyahoga River.
Bode has done multiple projects working directly on the river. Starting in 2012, he was put in charge of the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Program. The river is one of 43 rivers around the Great Lakes that is designated as an area of concern by the US EPA. This stems from the 80’s when these impairments were brought to light. There’s 14 different impairments that a river can be marked for and the Cuyahoga had 10 to its name.
In the last two years, they’ve removed the Public Access Beneficial Use Impairment, Fish Consumption Beneficial Use Impairment and the Aesthetics Use Impairment. Bode says they plan to attack the seven remaining impairments with the help of $133M that have been set aside by federal programs among others through 2024. $72M of it will be used in the removal process of the Gorge Dam.
Starting back in 2012, Bode knew the challenges ahead of him were going to be difficult, but with a simple day to day approach, he has been able to accomplish feats many thought would take twice as long.
“I knew what i was getting into and i knew it would be a slower process.” Said Bode. “Trying to remove just one impairment was never going to happen over night. It wasn’t going to happen after a couple months. I knew it would take years but you only get to that point if you do what you can today and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.”
2019 marks the 50th year since the rivers last fire. So, Bode came up with the idea to have a year long celebration with several different events taking place.
These events have shed light on what’s happening with the Cuyahoga River. Sure, a celebration is meant to be fun and entertaining, but it’s brought a positive publicity to the river and the ones working to better it. As long as this river is in the hands of people like Peter Bode, the Cuyahoga River will flourish. You can count on that.