Conservancy Magazine: Spring-Summer 2016

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100 YEARS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE Evolution of the NPS and the Cuyahoga Valley Restoring the Woodlands

Undoing the damage of clearcutting

The Towpath Trail History of a CVNP icon

Every Kid in a Park

Inspiring the next generation of park stewards


CONSERVANCY MAGAZINE Spring/Summer 2016, Volume 1 : Issue 2 CONTACT US 1403 West Hines Hill Road Peninsula Ohio 44264 330-657-2909 EXECUTIVE STAFF Deb Yandala Chief Executive Officer Janice Matteucci Chief Operating Officer John P. Debo, Jr. Chief Development Officer BOARD Thomas E. Green, Chairman Dione Alexander Michael Byun Pat Carlson-Burnham Pamela A. Carson Lee Chilcote The Honorable Deborah Cook A. Ray Dalton Tina Darcy Carrie Dunn Michael L. Hardy Matthew Heinle Jeffrey Hyde Bryan Kinnamon Sue Klein Kathy Leavenworth Jeremy M. Long Tucker Marshall Stephen Metzler Michael Miller Sandra Morgan John Najeway James Nash Ellen Perduyn Dr. Liz Piatt Betty Rider, PhD Dr. Erik Steele Teleangé Thomas John D Wheeler ©2016 Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park DESIGN: Christopher Hixson / Incite Creative EDITOR: Emily Heninger, Communications Manager CORPORATE PARTNER:


This year, we celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service. This centennial anniversary is a chance to raise awareness of our own Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s also an opportunity to give visitors new ways to experience our natural and cultural heritage. With diverse centennial events and initiatives throughout the park this year, we’re reaching out to more local residents so they know about the world-class recreational resource right in their backyards. By connecting CVNP to the national centennial celebration, we’re also putting our park on the map as a destination for out-of-state visitors. The Cuyahoga Valley isn’t just a beautiful landscape. It’s a place to experience nature first-hand—and improve physical, mental, and emotional health. As we enter a new century of service to national parks in our country, we’re focused on reaching new audiences. By inspiring a new generation of park stewards, we can ensure our park will be sustained for the next 100 years. With our participation in national initiatives like Every Kid in a Park (see page 18), we’re bringing thousands of children to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We’re providing more diverse volunteer experiences for young people (see page 24) and raising awareness of the benefits of having a national park nearby. Our other park partners also offer unique ways to experience the valley—by riding a historic rail car on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, or enjoying fresh produce at the Countryside Farmers’ Market. There are hundreds of ways to discover your Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visit to find something new for you and your family to try. We hope to see you at one of our many NPS Centennial celebrations in CVNP this year—and we hope you take pride in the role you play in protecting our own gorgeous national park. See you outside!


COVER PHOTO: Brandywine Falls, Andrew Gacom Photography

Deb Yandala Craig Kenkel Conservancy CEO CVNP Superintendent


Teaching children about nature at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. Co-managing the park’s award-winning volunteer program. Fostering a rich cultural arts program through music, art, adult education, & more. Providing visitor services including event facilities, lodging, and stores. Raising money for national park projects and programs.


Our Vision

Connecting you to your national park. Preserving it for future generations.



100 Years: Celebrating the NPS Centennial


Take a step back in time to explore the history of our valley and the development of America’s national park system.


Restoring the Woodlands

This year, every fourth grader in the country will be given free access to public lands and waters, and many of them will visit CVNP.


Through habitat restoration projects, park volunteers and staff are helping restore CVNP’s diverse, native ecosystem.


Planting the Future Youth Volunteers The youth of today will play a key role in the future of our parks. Here in CVNP, the Volunteers-in-Parks program helps young people forge a connection to the Cuyahoga Valley.

The Towpath Trail: A CVNP Icon

During this centennial year of the National Park Service, the history of the Towpath takes a unique spot in our national park story.

Every Kid in a Park: Come One, Come All

27 100 Things To Do in The Park 28 Featured Photo 29 Days of Service Opportunities




Celebrating the NPS Centennial



Can you imagine the Cuyahoga Valley without the National Park Service? Instead of woodlands and waterfalls, the landscape might be dominated by big-box stores and sprawling developments. The preservation of our beloved valley is a testament to the people who fought to protect it—and the efforts of the National Park Service and its partners to ensure future generations can enjoy its wonders. This year, we celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service. As the agency has developed over the past century, the Cuyahoga Valley has evolved as well.

Take a step back in time to see the history of our own valley and the development of America’s national park system. 2



Cuyahoga Valley In 1925, the nationally renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape architect firm conducted a study of the Cuyahoga Valley to see whether it would make a good park. Although they decided that preserving the entire valley was impractical at the time, they wrote, “[The valley’s] great and impressive beauty… are certainly beyond question… and to save that scenery for all time for the benefit and enjoyment of the people—not only of Summit County but of communities from much farther afield—could be an accomplishment justifying unusual effort and worthy of great praise.”

National Park Service created in Washington, D.C.




Hiking trails cleared in Brecksville and Bedford reservations



Akron Metropolitan Park District (later Summit Metro Parks) established

1921 Cleveland Metropolitan Park District (later Cleveland Metroparks) established

Closure of Akron, Bedford & Cleveland (ABC) Railroad, an electric trolley line that opened on the eastern edge of the valley in 1895

In March of 1933, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a “peacetime army” to build up America’s natural spaces. In Virginia Kendall Park, CCC Company 576 constructed many park structures that still stand in CVNP today, including Happy Days Lodge, the Octagon Shelter, and stone steps at the Ritchie Ledges.

Virginia Kendall Park donated to the State of Ohio





1924 Statue of Liberty National Monument established (transferred to NPS in 1933)


Grand Teton National Park established

Great Smoky Mountains National Park established

1934 Everglades National Park established


1920 NPS ranger uniforms adopted; since then, materials and design have changed only slightly, with the distinctive flat Stetson hats a defining feature

1917 Mount McKinley National Park established (incorporated as Denali National Park & Preserve in 1980)

1916 Sieur de Monts National Monument established (reincorporated as Lafayette National Park in 1919 and renamed Acadia National Park in 1929)


On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating America’s National Park Service, bringing Yellowstone (est. 1872) and other federally created lands under a single agency: “The Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations… which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order transferring 56 national monuments and military sites to the National Park Service. Arguably one of the most significant events in NPS history, this action solidified the NPS’s role as America’s caretaker of historic as well as natural sites. In addition to big, scenic western parks, smaller historic sites would contribute to the diversification of the agency.

1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt launches the New Deal, establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps to employ young men in conservation jobs at NPS sites around the country



Cuyahoga Valley In 1972, Congress created several urban national recreation areas as part of the “Parks to the People” initiative. For locals concerned about urban sprawl in the Cuyahoga Valley, the action planted a seed for a similar effort in Ohio. Congressman John F. Seiberling rallied public support for an Ohio national park, with help from Congressman Ralph Regula and the Cuyahoga Valley Association (predecessor to the Conservancy). On December 27, 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the bill creating Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area—later renamed Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


Peninsula Valley Heritage Association created, predecessor to the Cuyahoga Valley Association (later Conservancy for CVNP)

Ohio Turnpike Bridge built over the valley, following a battle with locals who succeeded in moving the route north to avoid the Village of Peninsula



Commuter rail service connecting Canton to Cleveland through the valley discontinued

Freshman Congressman John F. Seiberling attempts to pass legislation for a national park in the Cuyahoga Valley; he fails but remains undeterred





NPS Director Conrad L. Wirth launches Mission 66, a program to upgrade NPS facilities, staffing, and resource management by the 50th anniversary in 1966

1951 The design of the NPS arrowhead, created and authorized as the NPS official emblem in 1951, represents the many facets of America’s national parks. The sequoia trees and bison represent plants and wildlife; the mountains and water symbolize scenery and recreation; and the arrowhead itself embodies the history and archeological value of national parks.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore established


1964 National Wilderness Act signed into law Land and Water Conservation Fund Act signed into law, providing funds to federal, state, and local governments to purchase land and water for the benefit of all Americans

Golden Gate and Gateway national recreation areas established as part of President Nixon’s “Parks to the People” policy


1941 America enters World War II, dramatically cutting NPS programs and funding

1936 Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial National Monument added to the NPS (originally created in 1919)

The 1964 Wilderness Act created the National Wilderness Preservation System. Today, 53 percent of NPS land is designated as wilderness—the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands. The act defined wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

National Park Service 4


Beaver Marsh—a former salvage yard—restored with help from the Portage Trail Group of the Sierra Club

1984 Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (CVNRA) signed into law Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad makes its first run from the Cleveland Zoo to Hale Farm

Great blue herons discovered nesting in the park


Everett Covered Bridge rebuilt


Everett Covered Bridge was built in the 1800s. It was once one of over 2,000 covered bridges in Ohio, which led the country in covered-bridge production. The bridge had gone through several repairs over the years, but in 1975, a spring storm pushed it off its sandstone abutments into the stream below. The Cuyahoga Valley Association raised funds to rebuild the historic bridge, completed in 1986. Today, Everett Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County.

1974 Beavers return to the Cuyahoga Valley after being driven out by trapping in the early 1800s



1980 James A. Garfield National Historic Site established Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act adds over 47 million acres to the National Park System with support from Ohio Congressman John Seiberling, more than doubling its size


1991 National Park Service celebrates its 75th anniversary

Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area established



In 1978, NPS Director William J. Whalen authorized 15 additions to the National Park Service through the National Parks and Recreation Act. At this time, many thought that the NPS was overreaching itself, and advocated instead for increased focus on stewardship of existing parks. In response, Congress approved the Park Restoration and Improvement Program in the early 1980s, devoting over a billion dollars to stabilizing park resources and facilities.

Vail Agenda produced from a 75th anniversary conference, with recommendations to ground park management more heavily in scientific research Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park established




Cuyahoga Valley

The Richfield Coliseum was an indoor concert hall and home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It opened in 1974 with a concert by Frank Sinatra. Twenty years later, when the Cavs moved back to Cleveland, the Coliseum was put up for sale. Threatened with development as a major regional shopping mall, NPS revised the park boundary to include this property, and with the assistance of the Trust for Public Land, it was purchased and razed by 1999. In the years since, the area has returned to a grassy meadow and serves as a haven for many declining species of songbirds, including eastern meadowlarks and bobolinks.


The first section of the Towpath Trail, a 20-mile path in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley, was restored and converted to a hiking and biking trail in the early 1990s. The trail follows the path of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, which transported goods and people for decades. For more information about the history and creation of the Towpath Trail, see page 13.

1993 Towpath Trail opens


Bald eagles return to nest in CVNP after an absence of 70 years

Richfield Coliseum demolished to restore native habitat

1993 Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (CVEEC) opens


Cuyahoga Valley Association merges with CVEEC & becomes Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association


Countryside Conservancy created and the Countryside Farm Initiative begins

Flooding causes $4 million in damage to the Towpath and railroad tracks




Ohio & Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor established Boston Store Visitor Center opens

CVNRA renamed Cuyahoga Valley National Park, thanks to efforts of Congressman Ralph Regula





New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park established

National Park Omnibus Management Act signed into law

1998 The National Park Omnibus Management Act of 1998 was designed to increase accountability for NPS programs. Specifically, no study for a potential NPS site could be made without the specific authorization of Congress. Among other things, the Act was intended to avoid “omnibus” bills where dozens of new NPS sites could be added at a single time.


2002 Flight 93 National Memorial established in Pennsylvania

2000 First Ladies National Historic Site established in Canton, Ohio

“National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” – Wallace Stegner

National Park Service 6


Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association changes its name to Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Krejci Dump Superfund site restoration completed after nearly 30 years of cleanup

2010 Trail Mix Peninsula opens



2012 CVNP and its partners celebrate the National Park Service Centennial

Trail Mix Boston opens


River otters take up residence at Beaver Marsh



Because of its status as a national park, the Cuyahoga Valley will remain forever undeveloped. Seven generations from now, our descendants will still be able to find peace and solitude in the valley. In 2016, we’re celebrating this legacy of forever during the Centennial of the National Park Service. Discover something new and find your park with our list of 100 things to do in CVNP at

2013 Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument established in Maryland Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument established in Wilberforce, Ohio


2015 Pullman National Monument established, the first NPS unit in Chicago, Illinois

2016 The National Park Service celebrates its Centennial anniversary

In total, 410 American national park sites and 84 million acres have been preserved for future generations—with the 33,000 acres of Cuyahoga Valley National Park among them. Join us for Centennial events in CVNP all year long, and share your story about why you love your park at




“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” —Nelson Henderson


the Woodlands The Future of the Cuyahoga Valley PHOTO: MELANIE NESTERUK

A healthy woodland ecosystem is a special mix: a variety of native trees, shrubs, and grasses, with minimal edges and clearings. Birds and animals must have space to move, hunt, forage, and make their homes, but under cover of friendly trees. Clear streams are home to fish and a water source for other residents. Achieving this balance is an ongoing goal of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) and the Conservancy. In many areas of the valley, though, disturbed woodlands have given way to monotonous stands of invasive species. Through habitat restoration projects, park volunteers and staff are helping restore CVNP’s diverse, native ecosystem—one tree at a time.



Battling Invasive Species Early in 2015, the Conservancy secured a $124,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to restore native habitat in the Wetmore area of the national park. With a good start last year, the project will be completed by this fall. The Wetmore area is home to Dickerson Creek, a major tributary flowing into the Cuyahoga River. A key part of the watershed, the landscape was once home to dense, continuous woodlands. However, after being clear-cut for farmland and horse pastures in the late 1800s, many areas remained unforested and had been overtaken by non-native, invasive plants. Reed canary grass is an invasive plant known for forming single-species stands along stream and lake edges. Especially in disturbed areas, like the Wetmore area, it can completely eliminate native grasses and shrubs, destabilize the streambed, and destroy animal habitats.

Autumn olive is another non-native species found in this area. Together with other invasive plants like hawthorn and bush honeysuckle, this aggressive shrub prevents native tree seedlings from growing and producing new, mature trees. In the edge habitat along Dickerson Creek and near open pastures that had never been reforested, these invasive plants had choked out many native species. Over the decades, the Wetmore area had been struggling to sustain a healthy, diverse ecosystem for native plants and animals. The Wetmore restoration project will ultimately fund reforestation of 30 acres and invasive species control on 100 acres. It will also help stabilize 7,000 linear feet of the Dickerson Creek bank. To date, volunteers have cleared 50 acres of invasive species and planted trees on 15 acres. This summer, they’ll help complete the project during large-scale Days of Service, planting around 2,000 more native trees. PHOTO: MELANIE NESTERUK

This summer, volunteers will plant thousands of native trees in the Wetmore area of CVNP. Each tree is planted with a protective plastic sleeve to prevent deer from nibbling on the young buds.



In the Wetmore area of the Cuyahoga Valley, native trees were cut down in the 1800s to make room for farmland and horse pastures. Today, the National Park Service, the Conservancy, and





CVNP volunteers are restoring the landscape by removing invasive species and planting native trees and shrubs like these.

What’s in a Tree? After removing invasive species, a major goal of the Wetmore restoration project is to re-establish native, hardwood trees. The trees must meet two criteria: They have to be native species that were historically present, and they have to be resilient to changes in climate. Red oaks, for instance, are strong, hardy trees native to the eastern and central parts of the country. They are well-adapted to restoration projects because they can grow in a variety of soils, even in previously unproductive areas. The acorns of the red oak also provide food for small mammals and birds, and their dense foliage is perfect for animals looking for a home. Sycamores, red maples, and cottonwoods were also chosen for their hardiness and adaptability to wet habitats. After invasive species are removed with saws and loppers, the area is ready for re-planting. Volunteers will help transfer trees from their three-gallon pots into the ground, adding a staked protective sleeve to prevent deer from grazing on the young buds. Volunteers will also plant several native grasses and shrubs, all collected in CVNP and grown in the park’s own native plant nursery. Wingstem and prairie cordgrass, sown from seed, help provide habitat for birds and mammals, as well as stabilizing the creekbed



and reducing runoff. Volunteers will also plant shrubs like silky dogwood, red-osier dogwood, elderberry, and sandbar willow. For the Birds—and Beyond The impact of habitat restoration might not be apparent in the months or even years afterward, but its long-term effects can be tremendous and long-lasting. One of the most dramatic impacts will be on migratory songbirds in the Cuyahoga Valley. Each year, dozens of species of neotropical birds travel north to our national park for breeding and nesting in the Wetmore area. These songbirds face a crafty enemy here in CVNP, though: the brown-headed cowbird. Brown-headed cowbirds are small blackbirds with an unusual approach to raising their young. Instead of building their own nests, cowbirds lay eggs in the nests of other birds. They then abandon the eggs, leaving the “foster” parents to raise the young cowbirds—usually at the expense of some of the other chicks. Cowbirds prefer open habitat, like fields, meadows, and forest edges. As woodlands were cleared and towns and roads grew near the Cuyahoga Valley, cowbird populations increased as well. A single cowbird can lay more than 30 eggs each season, so their impact can be dramatic. Cowbirds also hatch earlier and develop

faster than other songbirds, giving them an unfair advantage over their “siblings” in the nest. Especially for smaller songbirds, it can be exhausting to feed a growing young cowbird much bigger than their typical youngsters. Research in CVNP has shown that up to 60 percent of songbird nests in some areas of the park are parasitized by cowbirds. Here’s the key piece: This parasitism takes place mainly in “edge” habitat, where old fields meet woodlands—as in the Wetmore area. By planting new trees and eliminating edge habitat— about 6,000 linear feet total—the project will restore and protect sensitive nesting habitat for migratory songbirds. When the new trees have matured, these birds will have a safer refuge where they can raise their young away from predatory cowbirds. Birds aren’t the only ones who’ll benefit from the habitat restoration. By eliminating invasive species and boosting the diversity of native plants along Dickerson Creek, the project helps stabilize the creekbed, reduce erosion, and prevent chemical runoff. In turn, fish living in the creek benefit from the improved water quality and can grow to be more abundant and diverse over time. Other woodland animals like squirrels, voles, mice, and turkeys will also benefit from restored habitat, with more spaces to nest, forage, and make a cozy home.

Finally, by restoring “missing” pieces of CVNP’s woodlands, the national park can be more resilient to changes in climate. CVNP’s 2013 Climate Action Plan identifies reforestation as one of the top priorities to address climate change. Contiguous, native forests— and the resulting diversity within—will capture and store greenhouse gases and help address increased flooding in the coming decades. Over the past five years, thousands of volunteers have helped control invasive plants on nearly 2,000 acres of the national park, including in the Wetmore area. They’ve also planted over 40,000 native plants—and counting. The Wetmore restoration project is one more example of the impact that passionate volunteers can have in their national park. It’ll be years before the trees planted in the Wetmore area will offer enough shade to sit beneath. But the goal of habitat restoration isn’t immediate gratification: It’s giving future generations the opportunity to experience native songbirds, glittering streams, and towering oaks in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

To learn more about volunteering or becoming a Conservancy member to support habitat restoration projects like this one, visit

By planting trees along “edge” habitat and closing gaps in the woods, volunteers are helping restore and protect habitat for migratory songbirds and other animals in CVNP.





Making a bequest for Cuyahoga Valley National Park could be the most important charitable gift you ever give. Contact us today about adding the Conservancy to your will. Visit or call John Debo, Chief Development Officer, at 330-657-2909 ext. 122 to start a conversation. 12





The Towpath Trail is the best-known trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park—and for good reason. End to end, the trail will ultimately span 101 miles from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, with a 20-mile section serving as the backbone of CVNP. The Towpath’s transformation into a byway for bikers, runners, and hikers didn’t happen overnight, though—and the trail is still evolving. During this Centennial year of the National Park Service, the history of the Towpath takes a unique spot in our national park story.



The Towpath’s Transformation After the creation of Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1974, the National Park Service began eyeing the old towpath as a flagship trail for the park. Serious planning for the restoration work began in 1989, with construction spanning from 1990 to 1993.

The Towpath follows the route of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, where mules pulled canalboats through the narrow channel.

The Canal Era The Towpath Trail follows the route of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, which transported people and goods during the 19th century. Before the arrival of the canal system, Ohio was frontier land, sparsely populated with settlers and Native Americans. After the Erie Canal opened in 1825, a national transportation system began to take shape, as ports on the Great Lakes were connected with eastern markets. Construction began on the Ohio & Erie Canal shortly after, and in 1827, the new canal opened for business from Cleveland to Akron. Flour, oats, coal, pork, cheese, and wool could now be moved through the state and sent east at much lower costs than before. Conversely, previously unavailable items were imported back along the canal, including foods like baking powder, fabrics, and news from around the country. To move boats along the canal, mules were hitched up to a canal boat and walked along a “towpath.” As you can probably guess, this path became today’s Towpath Trail. Ultimately, the canal closed following the arrival of the railways and a major flood in 1913. Its impact, however, was enormous, setting the stage for a national market economy and establishing the U.S. as a major economic powerhouse. Of course, it also provided the foundation for one of CVNP’s most popular national park trails.



As one of the park’s first major projects, the Towpath Trail restoration was ambitious. To start, the overgrown path had to be cleared of debris and vegetation. The trail also needed to follow the original towpath as much as possible—at least where the original route could be found. Of course, the trail also needed to preserve the rustic beauty of the Cuyahoga Valley. There was much debate about whether to pave the trail. Ultimately, the park decided to use compacted limestone wherever possible to preserve more of the historic character of the towpath. Finally, in October of 1993, the 20-mile section of the Towpath Trail within CVNP opened. At Lock 29 in Peninsula, a mule was led across the bridge on a beautiful fall day to mark the reopening of the historic path along the Ohio & Erie Canal.

In 2015, distributions from the TRAILS FOREVER Legacy Fund, an endowment fund dedicated solely to CVNP trails, helped rehabilitate key sections of the Towpath. Trail crews added new riverbank reinforcements, erosion control, and other features to reduce flooding and protect natural and cultural resources. With help from TRAILS FOREVER donors and volunteers, we can ensure that the trail will live on for generations to come. From its beginnings as a functioning towpath along the Ohio & Erie Canal to its popularity as a recreational trail today, the Towpath’s story is long and rich. Whether you bike, run, showshoe, or simply stroll along the Towpath Trail, you’re taking part in history.


Following the Towpath Trail’s popularity in the national park, additional support began mounting for its extension. In 1996, the length of the Ohio & Erie Canal from Cleveland to Zoar was designated a National Heritage Area. The Ohio & Erie Canalway Association, Canalway Partners, and Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition partner with the National Park Service to steward the area.

Discover more about the Towpath and other CVNP trails on our Outdoor Adventures guide: PHOTO: ©SUE SIMENC

Today, nearly two decades later, the trail has expanded to 85 miles in northeast Ohio. More than 2.5 million people travel the Towpath annually—a testament to the hard work that led to this point. Vision for the Future The completion of the full length of the Towpath Trail has been a decades-long project, but there’s good news: By 2020, the final stretches of the 101-mile trail are scheduled to be finished. The last additions to the Towpath Trail—managed by Cleveland Metroparks—will be through Cleveland. A combination of bridges, underpasses, and other creative pathways will take travelers through the heart of the city to the historic terminus of the canal.


Peninsula, Lock 29

Learn how you can support the Towpath and other park trails at

In addition to new sections outside of the Cuyahoga Valley, the park is continually striving to improve its own 20-mile section of the Towpath.




Give the gift of an acre in Cuyahoga Valley National Park! By sponsoring an acre, you help: Restore native habitat in the park Maintain the trails of CVNP Protect our national park To choose your acre, visit




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Chef Josh Scherger is the lead chef for the Conservancy Canteen, serving up fresh, local, and sustainably-sourced food in the national park. If you enjoy his recipe for granola bars, stop by a Trail Mix store to taste Chef Josh’s other creations: soups, salads, sandwiches, and more.

1565 Boston Mills Rd. Peninsula 330.657.2277

See this season’s menu at

1600 West Mill Street Peninsula 330.657.2091 CONSERVANCYFORCVNP.ORG



EVERY KID Inspiring the Next Generation of Park Stewards

Children learn about the geologic history of CVNP during Rockin’ at the Run, part of the national Every Kid in a Park initiative.




IN A PARK G etting youth outdoors is key to their physical and mental health. It broadens their horizons and inspires new ideas. It shows them how big the world can be beyond their own neighborhoods and schools.

The Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (CVEEC) is the Conservancy’s year-round youth learning center. Each year, more than 9,000 children visit the CVEEC to learn about the plants, animals, geology, habitats, and other aspects of the national park.

During 2016, thousands of children will visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) as part of the Every Kid in a Park initiative of the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial. Many more will visit other public lands and waters around the country—all for free.

This year, the CVEEC is aiming to bring hundreds of students to the Cuyahoga Valley as part of the Every Kid in a Park initiative—at no cost to the students or their schools.

Come One, Come All The Every Kid in a Park White House initiative started on September 1, 2015. Its vision is to give every fourth grader in the country free access to public lands and waters. When they receive their park pass, current fourth graders and their families have free access to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters across the country. From national parks like the Cuyahoga Valley to national historic sites, forests, and wildlife refuges, America’s youth will have an opportunity to explore the wonders of nature. Connecting youth to the outdoors is now more important than ever, with over 80 percent of our population living in cities and kids spending more and more time looking at screens. Particularly for youth who may have never experienced the magic of the Cuyahoga Valley or similar areas, an outdoor adventure can be life-changing. This initiative is part of the Centennial celebration of the National Park Service in 2016. Current fourth graders have through the end of the summer to get their pass and visit a park for free. It’s expected to continue beyond this year, though, so future fourth graders can have the same opportunity. Kids in the Cuyahoga Valley Here in CVNP, the Conservancy is partnering with the National Park Service to bring as many fourth graders from the Cleveland-Akron area to the park as possible.

“Every Kid in a Park is a tremendous opportunity to introduce children to the outdoors, especially those who live in urban areas and may rarely travel outside the city,” said Deb Yandala, CEO of the Conservancy. “It’s a chance for everyone to experience something new.” An estimated 1,000 students from Cleveland Metropolitan School District will come to the park this year for the CVEEC’s Low Bridge, Everybody Down day program. The program brings fourth-graders to CVNP’s recently renovated Canal Exploration Center, where they learn about the history and importance of the Ohio & Erie Canal. The students help operate a working lock, explore interpretive exhibits, and take a short hike on the Towpath Trail. They also talk about the canal’s impact on the country’s trade, travel, and daily life. “Many of the Hispanic and African American students add rich layers of discussion when we visit the exhibits about immigration and travel,” said one of the programs instructors. “Trying on clothes from the past is also a huge hit!” Similarly, Akron Public Schools students will attend the Rockin’ at the Run day program from the CVEEC. During the program, they hike trails in the park to learn about the geology of the valley, including different types




of bedrock, geologic time scales, and microclimates. They also learn how rocks were created, reaching millions of years back in time, and talk about how humans have influenced the landscape. Beyond the academic aspect of both programs, children get a chance to experience their national park firsthand. They hold ancient rocks in their hands, see a working lock in action, and stretch their legs on trails that early settlers once walked. By creating a physical connection with the national park—perhaps for the first time—they can begin to understand its value After each program, students receive their official Every Kid in a Park pass. Although access to CVNP is already free, they can now visit any other national parks or public lands/waters without paying for admission.



The Next Generation of National Park Stewards By introducing children to outdoor adventures at a young age, the Conservancy and our national park aim to spark a lifelong love for wild places—and their history and preservation. “Now that they know so much about the park, they can return with family and friends and show it off themselves,” said a CVEEC instructor. “They’re empowered to show their new knowledge, and excited to use their park passes to explore more.” Being in the park gives children a chance to step away from their phones and social media apps. They see, touch, hear, taste, and smell the real world: its animals, trees, and stones. They form a connection to a physical place.

GET YOUR PASS Passes are available to current fourth graders anywhere in the country. Visit the Every Kid in a Park website to complete a fun, educational activity and print off a paper pass voucher. You can then exchange the voucher for a plastic pass at CVNP’s Boston Store Visitor Center. This year’s passes are valid through August 31, 2016, when the next class of fourth graders will become eligible. With a pass, fourth graders and their families can visit any federally managed lands or waters for free. In northern Ohio, that includes Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, First Ladies National Historic Site, and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.

For more details and to print your pass voucher, visit

If America’s youth don’t have a connection to the rivers, wetlands, meadows, and woodlands of their country, what will happen to those places? If no one cares enough to take a stand for our national parks, will they still be there 100 years from now? With your help, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will go on. Thank you to all of the donors, volunteers, and advocates who are helping create the next generation of national park stewards.

Learn more about programs at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center—and how you can participate and support them—by visiting

Thank You In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Every Kid in a Park initiative is possible only because of outside funding. Thank you to all of the donors* who have so generously contributed to cover program fees, transportation, and other expenses for Cleveland and Akron students:

The Abington Foundation Akron General Medical Center The Andrews Foundation ArcelorMittal Cleveland Clinic Kelvin & Eleanor Smith Foundation National Park Foundation *as of 4/1/16





Cuyahoga Valley Institute Learn. Explore. Engage.


June 14, July 12, and August 16, 2016 Catch a brown bag lecture from some of northeast Ohio’s finest environmental writers.


Learn to record the sounds of Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Gain field recording techniques and create a sonic map of the Cuyahoga River with guidance from composer and naturalist Lisa Rainsong.


August 3-5, 2016 Join the best fiddlers in northeast Ohio for three days of classes, performances, jam sessions, and musical camaraderie. PHOTO: AMY BREEDON

Learn more and register at 22


Spread your

Local Roots From the beginning, Jakprints has been defined by its eco-friendly stance. By investing in energy efficient machinery, vegetable-based offset inks, providing responsible apparel options and balancing consumption by planting one tree with every order; Jakprints is leading the print industry with sustainable practices. On the centennial of the National Park Service, we’re ecstatic to add our support to the Conservancy and CVNP. In addition to printing this member magazine, we’ll be donating money, coordinating volunteers from our staff and finding even more creative ways to donate our time and resources. But, we can’t do it alone…

Can you make the biggest impact? If you’re reading this, you appreciate that we have a stunning National Park in our backyard; however, many lifelong Ohioans don’t know it exists. Let’s all help to make this CVNP’s best year ever. How can you help the Conservancy? Sure, telling your friends and hashtagging are helpful; but, is that the biggest impact you can make? Jakprints is challenging all local businesses to spread their local roots, just like us. Even relatively small donations and volunteer groups can make a huge impact when united with hundreds of others— no individual raindrop is responsible for the flood. Think of how fulfilling it will be to know that you played an integral part in ensuring this resource is just as pristine 100 years from now. Reach out today to the Conservancy’s Katrina Haas, Development Director, at Commit you and your company to making a difference for CVNP! —Your friends at Jakprints

Learn more about Jakprints’ environmental initiatives at or stop by our Downtown Cleveland showroom at 3133 Chester Avenue.






PLANTING THE FUTURE Youth Volunteers & the Next 100 Years of National Parks

Building new trails. Pulling autumn olive. Planting trees—with a real shovel. Instead of binge-watching Netflix or counting Facebook likes, this is how many young people spent their days last year: as volunteers in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). In 2015, 6,700 volunteers gave their time to CVNP. Of that group, over a third were under age 25. As the National Park Service enters its next century and we think about the future of parks, it is the youth of today that will play a key role. Here in CVNP, the Volunteers-in-Parks program—co-managed by the Conservancy—helps young people forge a connection to the Cuyahoga Valley. Reaching Out to Youth CVNP’s Day of Service events are increasingly attracting younger volunteers, who might not be able to commit to a regular position because of school, family, or work. To make sure there were plenty of single-day opportunities like this, the CVNP volunteer program added a new Day of Service last year, for a total of six days from spring through fall. At Days of Service, volunteers stop by the park for a few hours to build or maintain trails, remove invasive species, and plant native trees and shrubs. Habitat restoration is typically a major component of CVNP Days of Service.



This past year, for example, volunteers played a key role in a riparian restoration project in the Wetmore area of the park. Youth worked hard to remove harmful invasive shrubs and grasses and replace them with thousands of native oaks and sycamores. In this way, they help preserve park habitat and ensure it can be sustained for the next generation. Service learning is another major avenue for youth volunteerism in CVNP. In 2015, over 1,800 youth participated in service learning projects. Eagle Scout projects are also a way for youth to get involved with the park. In the past five years, 24 young men have completed their final Eagle Scout projects in CVNP. Path to the Park For some young people, volunteering in CVNP is a pathway to a national park career. Take Ryan Ainger’s story. Ryan grew up in Brecksville and spent his childhood exploring the park. He even attended a program at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (CVEEC) with his fifth grade class. “I always knew I wanted to work outside,” he said. Initially, he went to Kent State University (KSU) to study aviation, but he quickly realized it wasn’t for him. He had heard about KSU’s excellent park management program and decided to check it out, knowing how much he loved being in nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He hopped on the CVNP website and called the phone number listed. It just so happened that the person on the other end of the line was Park Ranger Josh Bates, CVNP’s youth volunteer coordinator and a former CVEEC intern himself. Ryan began volunteering with the park whenever he could. Josh would let him know about drop-in events or other volunteer opportunities that a college kid would be able to attend. He came to the second-ever Alternative Spring Break, helping remove invasive species and perform trail maintenance with other college students. Josh also made a point of letting Ryan shadow him on his duties in the park. Slowly, between his volunteer work and exposure to park staff, Ryan was learning the ins and outs of working in a national park. PHOTO: MELANIE NESTERUK



Park Ranger Ryan Ainger got his start volunteering as a college student in CVNP.

“I just wanted to give back to the park I was raised in,” he said. “Volunteering helped open my eyes to the possibility of working outdoors with the National Park Service.” During college, Ryan was hired as a seasonal park ranger in CVNP. After graduating from KSU this past December, he was brought on as a full-time park guide. He now spends his days offering interpretive programs and guided hikes to park visitors. From a fifth-grader at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center to a volunteer and then a park ranger, Ryan is a great example of the impact CVNP can have on a life. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” he said passionately. “There are plenty of big parks out west that I would love to see someday, but I’m so glad I started here in my home park.”



Engaging young people to be volunteer stewards of the land will help pave the way for the next century of national parks. Volunteer work inspires future park rangers, park users, stewards, and advocates. Thank you to all—the young and young-at-heart—who help preserve and protect the Cuyahoga Valley for future generations. CVNP’s volunteer program is co-managed by the National Park Service and the Conservancy. Together, we give people of all ages ways to give back to the national park. To learn more and find volunteer opportunities for you and your family, visit




BioBlitz & Biodiversity Festival May 20 and 21, 2016 CVNP

100 ways to


Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service Party in the National Park



August 20 and 21, 2016 Howe Meadow


Go Birding

at Station Road Bridge



by exploring your Cuyahoga Valley National Park!

97 more ways to celebrate are at




The Ledges Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park features lush undergrowth, towering sandstone cliffs, and cool stands of hemlock trees. PHOTO COURTESY OF RYAN HILLYER

To see your own photo featured, send submissions to






Volunteer in your Cuyahoga Valley National Park Spend a day volunteering in CVNP to preserve your park for future generations. Projects include planting trees, removing invasive species, and repairing trails.

Register today:


2016 Days of Service:

BioBlitz/RiverDay Friday & Saturday, May 20-21 National Trails Day Saturday, June 4 NPS Founders’ Day Saturday, August 20 National Public Lands Day Saturday, September 24 Make A Difference Day Saturday, October 22



1403 West Hines Hill Road Peninsula Ohio 44264


is one of Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s most iconic wildflowers. The valley is home to several varieties of this flower, including the large white trillium, or snow trillium—Ohio’s state flower. Although this species typically has three snow-white petals, the flowers turn pink as they age, like the one pictured here. Like many forest perennials, trillium grows very slowly, taking seven to ten years to flower. In the Cuyahoga Valley, look for these beauties along Haskell Run or Boston Run trails throughout the spring.

For more information about wildflowers, plants, and animals in the Cuyahoga Valley, visit the Conservancy’s Field Notes blog and sign up for email updates at