Conservancy Magazine - Spring 2018/Summer 2018

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Hidden Gems

Five spots to find solitude in your national park Partnerships in Motion

Boston Mills Visitor Center Update

Summer Events

Nature, Music, and More

Camping with the Principal The Park is their Classroom


CONSERVANCY MAGAZINE Spring/Summer 2018, Volume 3 : 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 Katie Wright Director of Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center Katrina Haas Chief of External Affairs BOARD James Nash, Board Chair Tina Darcy, Vice-Chair Dione Alexander Dr. Joe Blanda Ron Bower Christopher Buehler Michael Byun Pamela A. Carson Deborah Cook Harold Gaar Michael L. Hardy Matthew Heinle Emily Holiday Jane Howington Sue Klein Kathy Leavenworth Phil LiBassi Gary Lobaza Jeremy M. Long Shawn Lyden Stephen Metzler Michael Miller Ellen Perduyn Dr. Liz Piatt Brett Reynolds Irv Sugerman Rick Taylor Teleangé Thomas


When we think of Cuyahoga Valley National Park during these warmer months, we think of lush, green trails, volunteers planting trees, bustling summer concerts in Howe Meadow, kids around a campfire at the Education Center…there’s no shortage of park experiences this time of year. Part of the Conservancy’s mission is to advocate for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and all these unique experiences. We want to connect visitors to their national park—in the present and in the future. We’re for…

>>> Conservation: The Conservancy partners with the National Park Service and volunteers to plant trees, remove invasive species, and other important activities to restore native habitat in the Cuyahoga River watershed. Check out the story on page 8 to learn more about how volunteers are contributing to this important work.

>>> Education: At the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, the Conservancy fosters environmental literacy to sustain our planet. Through hands-on programs in nature’s classroom, we bring science to life for over 9,000 children each year. You can read about one teacher’s experience at the Education Center on page 16.

>>> National park experiences: Cuyahoga Valley National Park has so much to offer— live music, the Countryside Farmers’ Market, 120 miles of trails, train rides on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and more. The Conservancy and other park partners are constantly striving to make your park experience unique and special. Even for longtime parkgoers, there’s always something new to explore (see page 2 for some hidden gems!).

>>> The future: Together with the National Park Service, the Conservancy is here to make sure future generations can enjoy CVNP’s remarkable natural and cultural resources—plain and simple. When we think about what it means to be “for CVNP,” we think about how members like you are helping to achieve this mission. We hope you enjoy reading about all that you make possible in this edition of our Member Magazine. Thank you for being a part of our community and advocating for the protection and enhancement of Ohio’s national park—for all people, for all time.

©2018 Conservancy for CVNP DESIGN: Christopher Hixson CORPORATE PARTNER:


Deb Yandala Craig Kenkel Conservancy CEO CVNP Superintendent COVER PHOTO: PINK SKY, JULIA KOLE

THE CONSERVANCY’S PROGRAMS INCLUDE: > 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. FRINGED GENTIAN, PHOTO: ED TOEREK


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



Hidden Gems Five less-traveled trails that are diamonds in the rough


Ecological Challenges: Invasive Plants People are a part of the problem, and also key to the solution


Turning the Park into a Classroom How one principal uses the Environmental Education Center to teach experiences that can't be learned in the classroom


Transformation in Motion Update on the Boston Mills Visitor Center

24 Profile in Giving: Ann & Ron Allan 26 Trail Tips 28 Fall/Winter Events




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gems OF CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK by William Bostwick Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a jewel-studded oasis of green, draped beneath the Lake Erie shores of Northeast Ohio. Some of its gems are flashier than others: showstoppers like the Ritchie Ledges and Brandywine Falls. But away from the sparkles of those stars — and the crowds they rightly attract — hide the park’s hidden gems, trails, and vistas no less precious, but more valuable, in fact, for their extra sheen of solitude. All it takes to find these diamonds in the rough is a sense of adventure.





benefit of parks like the Cuyahoga Valley is their natural wonders and the variety of visitors they attract. There’s a trail for everyone. While that means popular sites can teem with hikers and nature lovers, it also means each

visitor might have a unique favorite spot, personal just to him or her. Photographers have an eye for isolated oases, rich with wildlife. Trail runners look for quad-busting hills and invigorating stream crossings. Pet lovers might want to avoid horses and mountain bikes, letting their furry friends sniff around in peace. And we all want a glimpse of the wild, and a keener sense of connection with the natural world. Lucky for you, that can be found on any trail. Still, with a little local advice, we came up with a pocket-sized list of lesser-known favorites. Check them out—then find your own!“

1. Terra Vista Study Area Where to find it: Park at the small trailhead at 11400 Tinkers Creek Road, just west of the Valley View Village Church


Oak Hill and Plateau Trails

Solon-based photographer Steven Springer loves capturing images of the birds, deer, and mysterious fungi that lurk in the meadows and wetlands around Terra Vista Study Area, a former sand and gravel mining site the park acquired in 1985. “It certainly feels tucked away,” he says, with a small gravel parking lot and a short but scenic trail with a rich mix of environments. “I love catching a beautiful, golden sunset over the open field, then wandering through the dense woods nearby.” Birds flock to the small pond at the trailhead, deer frolic in the thick trees, and almost fifty different species of butterfly have been seen flitting around the area.

2. Oak Hill and Plateau Trails Where to find it: Oak Hill Trailhead, 3901 Oak Hill Road This interlocking pair of loop trails is a great choice for runners looking for scenic singletrack. “It has some long stretches through pine corridors, just like Pine Lane on the Buckeye Trail,” says Vince Rucci, owner of Hudson’s Vertical Runner and a partner of the Western Reserve Racing trail-running organization. “But it’s not as long or as crowded.” Sylvan Pond makes the surrounding wetlands prime habitat for birds, flowering dogwoods, and wildflowers (and insects!) in spring and summer, so make sure to pack some bug spray with your running shoes and camera.



Salt Run Trail



3. Salt Run Trail Where to find it: Park at Kendall Lake (1000 Truxell Road), then hike around the Lake Trail to get to Salt Run Trail Rucci says this four-mile loop in the Pine Hollow area is a favorite for runners, with steep hills and even a few sections of steps over a relatively short distance. “It has everything,” he says. “Older trees, a thick pine forest, a meadow, and if you keep an eye out, you even pass a natural spring.” (That’s White Oak spring, at the foot of one of its namesake trees.) Be on the lookout, too, for meadows aflame with yellow sorrel and ancient, wrinkled hemlocks. But be careful — their twisted roots can make for unsure footing.




flood damage. While some parts are wide and horsefriendly, the trail terrain varies a lot, mixing in rocky hills and narrow singletrack, so be sure to keep an ear out for whinnies, and give horses right of way. Wetmore is a fun but challenging hike, with lots of elevation changes, and a few exciting stream crossings to cool your feet on warmer days.

Wetmore Trail

5. Perkins Trail Where to find it: Park at Everett Covered Bridge trailhead (2247 Everett Road), then hike across the bridge to find Perkins Trail on the left


4. Wetmore Trail Where to find it: Wetmore Trailhead, 4653 Wetmore Road A four-mile slice of a much larger network of equestrian trails, Wetmore Trail remains unfamiliar to many hikers, even after refurbishment work on Tabletop Trail (an offshoot of the main Wetmore Trail) in 2014 following

Named after one of the founders of Akron, the Perkins Trail rockets up a wooded, 300-foot climb in just under four miles. It’s a workout, to be sure, but don’t let the climb scare you. It keeps the crowds at bay, and the quiet makes the trail a perfect place for pets. “It’s such a friendly little trail,” says City Dogs Cleveland volunteer Tatiana Roberts. She likes taking her pooches on rambles along the ridge and says the connector trails provide options for mini loops along the way, if Fido is tugging the leash to explore! (Keep an eye out for gnarled trees, still bearing the scars of the great storm of 1996.)

Perkins Trail







Visit for seasonal hours OWNED AND OPERATED BY







Invasive plants are one of the biggest ecological challenges in Cuyahoga Valley National Park “This is probably one of our oldest patches of forest here,” says Chris Davis, a plant ecologist for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, as we crunch our way through layers of frozen leaves and old snow on a frigid day in early February. We’ve left our cars in the parking lot of Hampton Hills Metro Park in Akron, and headed west across Akron-Peninsula Road, into a 50-acre section of national park land just east of the Cuyahoga River.

But this forest is now a nursing home. “A lot of these big trees were dying, and nothing was coming up to replace them,” Davis says. As I look around, I can see what he means: most of the trees here are the same size. A lot of them are coming down – their trunks now horizontal, sprouting fungus. They’re reaching the end of their natural lifespans.

Davis has brought me here to show me the results of a new approach the park has taken in recent years to invasive species management. Facilitated by a similarly significant shift in its thinking about the power of volunteerism – and, most of all, the commitment of volunteers themselves. But to help me appreciate the positive transformation now underway in this landscape and many other sites in the park, Chris Davis is first going to give me his ecologist’s view of the damage.

“The whole understory was Japanese knotweed,” Davis says. “Huge, thick stands of it.”

So what happened?

Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that can grow up to ten feet high. Its leaves develop early in the spring, blocking sunlight from reaching the forest floor. By the time native seeds begin germinating early in the growing season, they’re already shaded out by the knotweed, Davis explains. Not long ago, the plant was so dominant at this site that almost no new native trees were able to grow for decades.

Heavy human impact has been the root of the problem. Now, people are proving a powerful part of the solution. By Joanna Richards

He’s led us west on a dirt road, and into a five-acre crescent of forest hugging the riverbend. There aren’t many trees this old in the park because of the intensive, historical land use in the Cuyahoga Valley. Even here, the land was cleared for agriculture. But the area floods every few years, so it was quickly abandoned, leaving it to revert to the forest we now stand in. Davis estimates many of the big sycamore, cottonwood and box elder trees around us are at least 100 years old – pretty elderly for these fast-growing wetland species in this region.

And that problem generated many others. Davis leads me further west through the aging forest until we reach the Cuyahoga River. The sky is grey, lit by weak, white winter sunshine. The shallow water burbles quietly four or five feet below us. Alongside it, in a narrow strip of snow-crusted earth, an animal, probably a raccoon, has left a trail of paw prints.



Crew removes invasive tree species at Brown-Bender Farm.

To me, the scene is pretty and peaceful, but Davis, with his ecologist’s eye, is still surveying the damage. He points out the sparse tree cover along most of the river’s edge. The only exception is a small stand of trees on the opposite bank, whose roots gnarl down along the mud into the water. When the area was thickly forested, he says, this is what the entire riverbank would have looked like. “If we were here 400 years ago, this would have been a huge cathedral of trees. If you were on the riverbank, you would have been shaded all day.” People aren’t the only animals that appreciate that natural temperature control. “Fish like that,” Davis says. As the trees drop their leaves, they provide nutrients for insect larvae in the water. “The insect community depends on that,” Davis adds. He points out that along most of the river, what’s dropping into the water instead of leaves now is dirt. That muddier water threatens the habitat of native



invertebrates – it blocks their access to rocky hiding spots they favor at the river bottom. “One of the worst things for invertebrates in a river is sedimentation,” Davis says. And that gets to the most visible impact deforestation of native trees is causing along the river: erosion. As Japanese knotweed has halted the regeneration of the native forest here, it has removed much of the natural architecture that kept the topsoil along the river in place. “Where those little sycamores are, the bank looks pretty good,” Davis says. The earth they grow in juts out a few feet further into the water than the receding, muddy cliffs on either side. But eroding cliffs dominate along the Cuyahoga River in the park. Davis says a survey last summer showed almost forty percent of the riverbank on park land is full of Japanese knotweed, rather than native trees.

The cloudier water caused by erosion bothers larger creatures, too. “Hundreds of cubic yards of dirt is going down the river to Cleveland, and is getting dredged out of the shipping channel,” Davis says. “And it’s because of invasive species.”

A Forest Nursing Home Becomes a Nursery? Our somewhat depressing conversation on the riverbank is suddenly interrupted by a few bright, warm bell tones – an owl hooting from the treetops. Charmed, Davis and I laugh. What a great moment, I note, since this story is not, in the end, about the destruction we’ve been cataloging, but about resilience and renewal. Davis agrees. A minute or two later, we hear a couple of long tones from a train horn. That brings this story’s themes full circle: the train is a reminder of the long and ongoing human intervention in the Cuyahoga Valley landscape, the root of the invasive species problem. Of about twelve hundred plant species identified in the park, about a quarter are non-native. Of those, about fifty are problematic enough to be considered invaders, by outcompeting native plants. Davis says altogether, they compose one of the biggest threats to park ecology. Many of them, like the knotweed, were intentionally imported by people and planted as ornamentals. Multiflora rose, another invasive, was once touted as a useful thorny hedge, to help keep deer out of vegetable gardens.

Grant funding, secured with the help of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was essential to get the new trees a safe start in a nursery. But they wouldn’t have had a chance if it weren’t for an enormous, up-front effort by volunteers, and coordination between the park’s and Conservancy’s co-managed volunteer office, to remove nearly all the invasive knotweed here. The scale of the labor required to accomplish this is a little mind-boggling to me as I tour the site with Davis, trying to imagine what it must have looked like back in 2011, crammed with a hostile invader. But that’s only because I hadn’t yet met the small army of people who do this work. The volunteers behind the thousands of hours of labor represented in this forest and at other sites undergoing similar restoration in CVNP come in a few varieties, but the most crucial types are two.


But a new kind of human intervention is bringing the forest at this site back to life. As we walk back east toward Akron-Peninsula Road, Davis points out the next generation of native forest. This arboreal nursing home is now also a nursery. More than a thousand saplings are steadily inching upwards among their elders, swaddled in the plastic tubing at their bases to protect them from hungry deer. Started in a nursery from seeds collected here, and planted last year, most are now around fifteen feet high. The only remnants we spot of the invasive knotweed are a few isolated plants, three feet high at most (it takes more than an hour for Davis to find any to show me). The five acres of land hugging the riverbank with the oldest trees, plus another 45 acres surrounding it have been almost entirely cleared of the botanical bully that once choked off new tree growth.

CVNP volunteer plants a tree.



Together, you might say they comprise the special forces and the regular army in Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s war against invasive plants.

The Battle of Brown-Bender Farm It’s another freezing winter morning when I arrive at the battle site, the Brown-Bender Farm, on Akron-Peninsula Road in Cuyahoga Falls. This is an historic farm on park land, with an 1840s farmhouse, a giant red barn, and old orchard and grape vines. The temperature is in the low 20s, and snow glitters in the sunshine. A hawk glides overhead. The Invasive Plant Crew, as this group modestly and somewhat technically calls itself, begins its stoical assembly. Its members unload tools from vehicles, tote warm travel mugs of coffee, tuck warm work gloves into coat sleeves. The Invasive Plant Crew is the park’s special forces team, a group of tight-knit, highly skilled, highly independent

volunteers who gather intelligence on enemy positions, execute targeted missions, and over time have helped to shape the whole course and strategy of CVNP’s war on invasive plants. Like other elite fighters, they are a little mysterious. Rumors of their battle victories swirl among park staff, but otherwise, the team toils mostly in obscurity, out of public view. They are patiently, tirelessly and mercilessly devoted to their peculiar war craft, which is why any battle tends to go their way. As I learn, they also share a necessary dark humor about their calling. “What’s our plan?” one crew member queries another. “Kill!” comes the reply, from Rich Kroczynski, the unofficial squad leader, to his sister-in-arms, fellow volunteer Barbara Gedeon. With little further discussion, the crew’s half-dozen members grab their gear and head up a hilly gravel drive. Their armor is Carhartt jackets, denim, and wool socks. Their weapons are true implements of death: loppers, trowels, and chainsaws. The crew has come to liberate the old apple trees and grapevines. Huge curtains of bittersweet vines have coiled around the old apple trees and climbed up them, stealing the trees’ sunlight, and sprouting their own red fruit overhead. Between the apple trees, and spreading out into a field, are buckthorn and multiflora rose, two other nasty invaders pervasive in the park. Barbara Gedeon wastes no time in hacking her way steadily through a stand of thorny bushes to reach an apple tree. Eventually, I catch sight of her clipping the invasive vines around the trunk. I start to head through the narrow tunnel she’s created in the bushes to chat her up, but struggle as thorns dig into my coat sleeves. “Turn around!” she calls to me. I do and easily move backwards through the thorny passage.

Volunteer Michael Delahanty worked to prune an apple tree and remove invasive species around it on his first day volunteering with the invasive species removal crew at Brown-Bender Farm.



Gedeon pushed to work on this site because of her interest in historic preservation, including of the old apple varieties represented here. Apple orchards are in her blood, she explains – her extended family has run a couple of orchards and a cider business in Hinckley. That sparked her curiosity about this old orchard, and a desire to preserve it.

“This is an opportunity to really see what apples were grown a long time ago,” she says. She believes an orchard was started here around the 1830s when the farmhouse was built. The current trees probably date to the 1940s or ’50s, she thinks. “There’s a big resurgence with the heirloom effort,” she says. Gedeon hopes to help get these trees producing more apples, and also to take cuttings that can be grafted onto newer trees, to help preserve these old varieties. The Invasive Plant Crew as a whole, which works under Chris Davis’s guidance, has often led the way in helping to point out priority sites for restoration, and to ramp up their capacity and independence. Fred Glock, an early leader of the crew, “pestered the park to allow the use of chainsaws by particular crew members (starting with me),” he said, via email. “Eventually they established a policy, arranged for training and we now have three of the crew approved.” Several crew members have obtained state certification to apply herbicide and supervise other crew members who do as well. All of this has helped the park, which crew members love, of course. But they also love the time they get to spend outdoors, and the camaraderie this work fosters. Most are silver-haired retirees from white-collar jobs, now thrilled to be able to spend part of their retirement outdoors. As the Invasive Plant Crew works, the members exchange excitement about upcoming travel plans, tips for managing retirement investments, and stories from their numerous other volunteer activities. “The best part of the whole thing is we go to lunch at 1,” Rich Kroczynski jokes, as the team works up an appetite, which they’ll sate soon at The Winking Lizard, a ritual part of their shifts. Kroczynski’s good cheer and modesty contradict the incredible commitment of many of these volunteers. Together, today’s crew members have logged over 8,000 hours of labor in the park. Chris Davis says the “hardcore” Invasive Plant Crew – which includes other members not at today’s shift – have played a crucial role in identifying other priority sites – such as Terra Vista, a former gravel mine where invasive autumn olive plants had interfered with a butterfly monitoring program, and Lock 29, where other invasive plant growth had blocked views of the river.

Volunteer Sue Gaetjens moved armfuls of invasive plant material she’d cleared from the orchard at the Brown-Bender Farm.

“They’ve influenced best practices for staff also,” Davis says. “They’re kind of like a little SWAT team.”

A Volunteer Army But sometimes a whole army is needed. What turned the tide at the site of Davis’s forest tour near Hampton Hills Metro Park was the regular forces. These are the big volunteer groups ranging from several dozen to as many as 450 people, who come out together as part of their school or company’s volunteer days. They represent the many civic, school and business organizations in Northeast Ohio whose leaders see value in preserving – and directly serving – Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Deloitte, the global business services firm with an office on Cleveland’s Public Square, is one of those organizations. For over six years, spurred by park patrons on its staff, Deloitte has been sending around seventy to one hundred employees to work on park projects as part of the company’s annual “IMPACT Day.” FORCVNP.ORG


“More than half of our volunteers come to CVNP each year,” said company spokeswoman Alexandra Korosi via email. She said volunteers go to various sites to volunteer, but one reason the company keeps coming back to the park is its ability to accommodate the largest group. And, “Since we return year over year, volunteers can see the progress made and contribute to furthering the park’s initiatives and meet its needs,” she said. “The volunteers work inside desk jobs, so getting outside and getting their hands (literally) dirty is very rewarding.” Just as Deloitte’s white-collar professionals relish a workday outdoors, invasive species removal has been a huge hit with students, too. Josh Bates is a park ranger who coordinates youth volunteering and service learning. He says these projects dovetail well with science and environmental curricula in schools, and the hands-on experience in the field “really drives it home.”

The labor of big school and corporate groups are paying off for park ecology. With little training and in a single day, a school or company day of service can kickstart a site’s transformation by sheer overwhelming force. Just like a military’s regular ground troops, their work on an initial clearance effort can create the momentum to reclaim a piece of invaded territory for good. There is heavy equipment that can be useful and more efficient in some cases for this kind of clearance effort. But some terrain and some tasks do require painstaking manual labor. And there are other benefits to this approach. The incorporation of large volunteer groups into the park’s invasive plant management effort has been a fruitful, and serendipitous, evolution for the park’s volunteer program.

Bates says there are moral and emotional dimensions, too, to children’s experience during a day of whacking down invasive plants in the forest. “I think they get overlooked for their want and desire to contribute. I don’t see the attitude, and I don’t see bad behavior very often. I see enthusiasm, and I see them wanting to contribute. I think they appreciate the opportunity to engage with the Park Service at a deeper level,” he said. Engaging kids’ hearts and minds deeply in these ways isn’t hard when they’re having fun. Bates recalls an eyeopening conversation he had with a fifth-grader from University School, a private boys school with campuses in Shaker Heights and Hunting Valley – and one with a lot of privileged students, with no shortage of enriching educational and entertainment experiences. “A kid goes, ‘This is the second-best field trip I’ve ever been on!’” Bates remembers. “I said, ‘Wow! What’s number one?’ He goes, ‘Whale watching in Nantucket!’ I thought: ‘Whale watching in Nantucket, and invasive species removal in Cuyahoga Valley National Park – one and two, holy cow!” Bates said. Ecologist Chris Davis recalls knowing these projects were on-target when a kid told him, “This is more fun than the amusement park at the IX Center!”



Rich Kroczynski used a chainsaw to remove a tree, as Bill Byrd helped to guide its fall with a rope at the Brown-Bender Farm.

In the past, inquiries from big organizations about potential volunteer day activities left National Park Service staff scratching their heads. Davis recalls a time when the volunteer coordinator would mass-email park staff, offering up, say, 250 corporate volunteers for a day’s work. “They’d get a response like, ‘We could have three people file things at headquarters,’ or ‘We could have five people paint signs,’” Davis says. This was a fundamentally good problem to have, though – big Northeast Ohio institutions consistently wanted to help out – and Davis took note. “I’d say, ‘We have, like, 100 acres of invasives at Terra Vista. You can send them all there!’” The park invested in more tools – saws and loppers, and occasionally, port-a-potty rentals – and started putting big groups to work. The army they needed had arrived.

Human Resources Davis now works closely with the park’s volunteer program to help direct labor into needed ecological work. Big groups now help out with a whole suite of restoration tasks – from invasive species removal to collecting native seeds to be started in a greenhouse, to planting young native trees. About ten years ago, the park and the Conservancy officially teamed up to co-manage the park’s volunteer program, adding staff and formalizing what had already become a mutually beneficial collaboration. Between 2010 and 2017, annual volunteer hours devoted to invasive plant management have exploded – from under 1,000 hours to almost 14,000 hours, according to Jamie Walters, volunteer program manager for the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Davis says in the last five years, that’s allowed for invasive plant removal on about 2,500 acres, and reforestation of about 80 acres with the planting of more than 10,000 trees. Last year, the Park Service honored Jamie Walters, Chris Davis and Josh Bates with a national recognition, the “Achieving Relevance in Public Engagement and Resource Stewardship Award.”

volunteerism and natural resource management has been a bit of a revelation. Most National Parks tend to be much less disturbed by historical human intervention, so the ecological challenges here can seem particularly daunting. But CVNP’s proximity to big population centers has proven to be part of the solution, too. “A school group is not usually going to send a bus from Tacoma two hours to go to Mount Rainier,” Davis pointed out. “There’s not a lot of huge, giant corporate headquarters right outside of, like, Yellowstone.” But Northeast Ohio is teeming with people and organizations eager to get their hands dirty to help a park they care about. And that’s become crucial to restoration efforts, Davis says. “Most of our ‘old’ forests are still second growth and were cut long ago; however, when those forests regenerated in the late 1800s and early 1900s, few non-native plants were widespread in our area. Long ago, native plants had a chance to recolonize disturbed sites.” Today though, “disturbed land is quickly colonized by a massive variety of invasive species. The old management option of ‘letting nature take its course’ now results in quick invasion by non-native plants.” “Because of the work of volunteers, we've been able to improve habitat for pollinators, birds, fish and other wildlife throughout the park, as well as for humans… Although many visitors might not notice the difference between a stand of native wildflowers, like milkweed, and a patch of invasive crown vetch and Canada thistle, the creatures that depend on native plants to survive – like monarch butterflies – know the difference. And visitor experience is improved because of this,” Davis says. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of growing volunteer involvement in restoration work is the way it continually strengthens Northeast Ohioans’ sense of connection to the park – helping residents of this region see and experience the value of this landscape, understand its challenges, and participate in preserving it. This work gives volunteers “a sense of ownership of the park,” Davis says. “It’s community building.”

For Davis, coming from previous postings in more typically remote National Parks, the convergence of





by Julie Schuler



“All the Rivers Run” Fall program (3 nights/4 days) Summer Environmental Education Academy (4 nights/5 days)


Daniel E. Morgan School, Cleveland Metro School District




When Daniel E. Morgan School Principal Dessie Sanders brings her students to the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center for an overnight trip, she knows they are in for some pretty amazing discoveries. “For most of our kids, this will be the only camping experiences they have had. Many of them never heard a cricket or a bullfrog. Going on a night hike, where you’re listening to the sounds of crickets, owls, and frogs in complete darkness? That gets them every time.” What the students from this elementary/ middle school, located in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood, get at the Education Center is more than just a few days in the woods. They also get experiences that stay with them; experiences, to use a common phrase, you can’t teach in a classroom. Ms. Sanders has been a principal in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for 12 years. For the past eight, she’s utilized the Education Center to not only supplement her school’s curriculum but also as a way to foster social and emotional skills that are challenging to teach in a classroom setting. Here are just a few noteworthy ways her 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade students have made the most out of fall and summer overnight programs at the Education Center.

About Daniel E. Morgan Elementary School: Daniel E. Morgan is a vibrant elementary school with a focus on teaching core subjects through placebased experiences. As one of Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s high-performing school choices, the staff is committed to helping students reach their full academic potential.

Principal Dessie Sanders interacts with students.

What first brought you to the Education Center? It all boils down to the academic, social, and emotional experiences the camp offers. From an academic standpoint, the skills we talk about in science class become hands-on learning experiences. One exercise we’ve done has the students building an environmentally friendly structure using materials such as rain barrels, rain gardens, pervious surfaces, and other recyclables. Students work together to choose the best materials, create their environment, and present to other groups. We apply learning we’ve done on the watershed and water quality, too. In school, we talk about oil spills, fracking, recycling—how all of these things impact water quality, and the things we can do to keep water clean. At camp, the students get in the water, observe water levels, and test to see if it’s clean. From an emotional perspective, the teachers and I get to see a different side of the students. It’s relationship building. The students get to see their educators in a different manner; we’re more relaxed and play games with them. They get to see a different side of their peers. They have to work together to complete chores and take care of the camp. They learn to work together to reach common goals. We couldn’t create this type of team building experience with that many kids at any other place. FORCVNP.ORG


What are some of your favorite activities at the Education Center? When we attend in the fall, it’s more structured and focused on very specific academic standards. A lot of what we do, the students will see again on state testing; it helps prepare them and set them up for success. In the summer, it’s a little more open. Some of my favorite experiences are watching the students do things that they’ve never done before. For a lot of our kids, “camp” is time at the community rec center over the summer. Sleeping in the woods? That’s something they’ve maybe seen in a movie but never experienced. The night hike is especially interesting. The students have to really stop and listen for the animals. They have to learn how to trust their senses. There is a hollow tree at the center, and that’s always a memorable place. The more adventurous kids climb inside the tree. A lot of these kids are curious about what a tree looks like on the inside; they learned about trees as habitats in 2nd and 3rd grade. Now they get to observe the animals actually living inside a hollow tree!



In the summer, the kids go fishing. Most of the kids have never gone fishing before, let alone caught a fish—they are always so excited. Those are experiences these kids wouldn’t get without going to this camp. For many, it’s also the first time they’ve been away from their parents.

What are some changes you’ve noticed in the students when you return from the center? The relationships and memories stay with the students, as well as what they’ve learned. The kids who go are definitely more conscious about food waste when they come back. You can see them not taking more than they can eat. We reinforce this at camp and they really think about it when they come back. Also, we sing a lot of songs at camp. If the students were at home and you asked them to sing a song, they would say, “That’s corny.” But at camp, they’re more relaxed. I love it when months later I hear the students singing the songs in the hallways at school.

About the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center: Since 1994, the Conservancy and the National Park Service have provided transformative experiences at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. Through overnight and day education programs, participants connect to the natural wonders and rich history of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The goal is to offer experiences that expand and deepen knowledge on topics covered in the classroom. For more information, visit




This Summer, there’s a special reason to consider including the Conservancy in your will: A $1,000 donation will match each bequest commitment received by August 31 thanks to the generosity of Charlie & April Walton and Bill & Trish Steere. When the first 100 park supporters pledge to include the Conservancy in their estate plans, $100,000 will be generated for vital park projects and programs in 2018. Visit or call John Debo, Chief Development Officer, at 330-657-2909 ext. 122 to start a conversation. 20





After years of careful planning, a new, central visitor center for Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) is finally underway. Construction on the Boston Mill Visitor Center began early in 2018, with a groundbreaking ceremony officially kicking off the project in January. This project marks the beginning of a new era for CVNP, where visitors—both local and out-of-state—can experience and learn about the park in a whole new way.

Sneak Peek: Boston Mills Visitor Center Exhibits The exhibits for the new center highlight the Cuyahoga River and its role in shaping the physical, cultural, and environmental landscape of the Cuyahoga Valley. Exhibits will use the connection of the river to both Cleveland and Akron as a way to tell stories about the region and its transformation over the decades. Visitors of all ages will be able to explore interactive, hands-on exhibits to learn more about the park’s geography, context within the Cleveland-Akron area, and primary features. A two-story “feature wall” will be the first thing you see as you enter the main building, showing off the entirety of the park with images, FORCVNP.ORG


design, and construction. This role closely fits with the Conservancy’s philanthropic mission to strengthen and provide support for the park. Amid the realities of declining federal funding for national parks, partnerships like this are essential. The Conservancy has leveraged financial support from more than 350 donors—individuals, foundations, and businesses—who care deeply about the future of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Conservancy is close to reaching the project’s $6.84 million fundraising goal – its largest capital campaign. Historical Photo of Boston Mill General Store property.

artwork, and videos. You’ll be able to plan your park experience with a ranger or check out the digital trip planning options using a kiosk or your mobile device. A tactile map will let you see key features and areas of the valley as well. Continuing beyond the main lobby, visitors will learn about the natural and cultural forces that have shaped the valley, from the carving of the Cuyahoga River valley to the heyday of the Ohio & Erie Canal and railroad. You’ll learn about the environmental history of the area, as well as the work CVNP is doing to create a more sustainable park and restore the native ecosystem of the valley. The exhibits conclude with a vision for the future of the Cuyahoga Valley as a recreational hub with a strong focus on ecological sustainability and historic preservation. Visitors can learn about opportunities to participate in the ongoing transformation of the valley through volunteer activities and invitations to contribute their own stories, photos, and “citizen science” findings. You’ll also have an opportunity to purchase educational items or special park gifts in a retail space on the ground floor.

The Power of Partnerships The Boston Mill Visitor Center project illustrates the power of partnerships: between the National Park Service, the Conservancy, and a community of supporters who care passionately about Ohio’s national park. The project is being led by the National Park Service in close partnership with the Conservancy. The Conservancy’s role is to manage fundraising, planning,



Through these partnerships, a new, state-of-the-art visitor center for Cuyahoga Valley National Park is now becoming a reality. The Boston Mill Visitor Center is scheduled to open in 2019. Learn more and stay up to date on the project’s progress at

JUS T T HE FACTS PROJECT ELEMENTS: Rehabilitated main visitor center building, educational exhibits, outdoor pavilion, courtyard, public restrooms, & office space, as well as a new parking lot & train depot funded & managed by the National Park Service

LOCATION: SE corner of Riverview & Boston Mills roads, Village of Boston

BUDGET: $6.84 million OPENING: 2019

Show your support with the Cuyahoga Valley license plate! $15 of every license plate purchase goes to the Conservancy, so you’ll be showing your love for the Cuyahoga Valley and supporting your national park. You can exchange your existing plates online or at your local BMV.

For details, visit FORCVNP.ORG









For Ron and Ann Allan, Cuyahoga Valley National Park was the place where their biking adventures began. From their first adventures on the Towpath to biking trips around the globe, the pair explored countless landscapes from the seats of their bicycles. “Biking became our way to see the world,” says Ann. “If we hadn’t started biking in Cuyahoga Valley, that kind of exploring would never have occurred to us.” Ron regularly said that biking in CVNP was the one thing they both loved to do—and it was only 15 minutes from their porch. Their first bike trips typically began from the Ira Trailhead, where Ann would ride the Towpath Trail up to Peninsula, while Ron took the roads. After lunch together at Fisher’s Café, they’d head back, enjoying the scenery of the valley. “I remember when we’d see the birds nesting in the springtime,” recalls Ann. “We would have to stop for at least 20 minutes to watch them!” As their biking abilities and confidence grew, they started traveling farther afield, eventually taking many international biking trips to see the world—from Europe to the Baja Peninsula. Amid their world travels, the Allans always returned home to Akron, Ohio and the Cuyahoga Valley. As their children and grandchildren grew up, they continued visiting the park for bike rides, picnics, and adventures to the Beaver Marsh and Blue Hen Falls.

This gift is a game-changer for the Conservancy, allowing the organization to truly step into its role as a mature, stable nonprofit friends group to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With this type of funding, the Conservancy can try new things, take entrepreneurial risks, recruit new voices, and explore creative ideas that will further the mission and goals of the organization and the park. This type of forward thinking is essential to maintaining the relevancy of national parks in the future. Ann has a few ideas about how the park will change going forward, too. “More people are turning to parks—for health, for the beauty of the landscapes,” she says. “Cuyahoga Valley is becoming a real destination park, and I expect we’ll continue to see more out-of-state visitors moving forward.”

In celebration of Ron’s 80th birthday, the Allans gave $1 million to establish two funds for the Conservancy.

In 2015, Ron and Ann joined the Conservancy on a trip to Golden Gate National Recreational Area, even welcoming the group into their California home for an evening. Their connection to the Conservancy continued to grow over the years, deepening as they realized how their support of the nonprofit friends group could make a difference for the park they loved so much. Then, late in 2017, their strong connection to the Cuyahoga Valley drove Ron and Ann to make a remarkably generous donation to the Conservancy. In celebration of Ron’s 80th birthday, the Allans gave $1 million to establish two funds for the Conservancy: a Conservancy reserve fund, and another fund to underwrite capacity building and entrepreneurial initiatives, as well as a $180,000 gift for the new CVNP visitor center.

The Allan’s gift will help the Conservancy better support the park as it welcomes these visitors with unique, creative programming, educational opportunities, entrepreneurial initiatives, and more.

The impact of the Allan’s gift to the Conservancy can’t be overstated, and we are tremendously grateful for their generosity. Sadly, Ron passed away not long after the Allans made this extraordinary donation, and Ann has since moved to California to be near family. In their wake, though, they leave a lasting legacy for the place that shaped their lives so dramatically. “Cuyahoga Valley National Park means a lot to us—in a lot of different ways,” says Ann. “We knew we wanted to make a difference for this place that is so special to us and our family.”

Learn more about how you can make your own lasting impact in CVNP at




When nothing goes right, go left! Like driving a car, the standard way to pass on trails is on the left. Announce that you’re planning to pass and look for oncoming foot traffic before continuing past fellow trail users.

Keep a good friend by your side. If you’re on a trail with a friend, fall back to a single file line when passing or being passed. This encourages safety and helps prevent unnecessary widening of the trail.

A little rain makes you appreciate the sunshine.


for Exploring CVNP by Kelly Dickerson, Western Reserve Racing In some ways, the trails of Cuyahoga Valley National Park can be perceived as a metaphor for life, complete with winding and rocky courses, but at times straight and smooth. These trails were created by the passage of people, paving the way for future exploration and learning. Whichever path you choose, and however you choose to take it, let’s ensure you and future generations have the most magical experience possible! Much like in life, there are rules of thumb that make your time on the trails more safe and enjoyable:

Most of us would prefer a sunny, dry hike or run, especially because saturated trails are particularly susceptible to damage. Pick a well-draining trail, head to the Towpath, or consider waiting a day or two for puddles to dry. If you come across a muddy section, it’s best to go through it rather than to risk widening the trail by going around.

Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Take beautiful photos, but leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them. Consider going one step further to protect the park and pick up any discarded trash you may see.

Everyday superheroes are among us. In the event of an emergency, call 440-546-5945. Park rangers may best be able to communicate your location to emergency response vehicles.

Thank you to Western Reserve Racing for donating over $50,000 to help enhance Cuyahoga Valley National Park! To discover park experiences provided by Western Reserve Racing, visit 26



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




Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park



Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band

June 20, 2018

Hillbilly IDOL

July 11, 2018

David Mayfield

July 17, 2018

Musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra

July 18, 2018

Funkyard Experiment

August 1, 2018

The Lonesome Stars

August 5, 2018

Jason Vieaux

August 15, 2018

Cats on Holiday


Wild Edible Feast

June 14, 2018

Journey to Morocco

July 18 & 19, 2018

Blueberry Abundance at Greenfield Berry Farm

August 23, 2018

Vegetarian Harvest

September 20, 2018

Foods of our Founders


Women in the Wild: Mother's Day Retreat

June 29– July 1, 2018

Inspirations & Expressions of Nature: African American Quilt and Doll Guild Retreat

July 13–15, 2018

Women in the Wild: Hike Retreat

August 14, 21, & 28, 2018

Writing about Nature, with Lee Chilcote

September 28–30, Women in the Wild: 2018 Best of Wild

FUNDRAISERS June 22, 2018


June 23, 2018


September 16, 2018



Cub Scout Weekend

July 9–13, 2018

Junior Ranger Day Camp

July 23–27, 2018

Camp-ology Summer Camp

July 30–August 3, 2018 Junior Ranger Day Camp 28





RiverDay (Day of Service)

June 2, 2018

National Trails Day

June 9, 2018

Volunteer Orientation

August 9, 2018

Volunteer Orientation

September 29, 2018

National Public Lands Day (Day of Service)

October 27, 2018

Make a Difference Day (Day of Service)

HABITAT RESTORATION DROP-IN EVENTS Wednesdays, September 5–October 24

Native Plantings

2nd & 4th Thursdays, April–October

Invasive Plant Removal

4th Saturdays, June–August

Invasive Plant Removal

Tuesdays, September 25–October 23

Native Seed Collection

Weekly, year-round

Trail Work


See all event details, including locations, at FORCVNP.ORG


1403 West Hines Hill Road Peninsula Ohio 44264