• Image of bluebells in the spring

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

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  • Valley Bridle Trail Partial Closure

    A section of the Valley Bridle Trail is closed across from the Brandywine Golf Course. There is no estimate of when this section will be open. Please observe all trail closures. More »

  • Plateau Trail Partial Closure

    The outer loop of the Plateau Trail is closed at the Valley Picnic Area junction for bridge repair. The bridge is now unsafe for pedestrian traffice due to accelerated erosion around the base. More »

  • Bald Eagle Closure in Effect Until July 31, 2014

    Returning bald eagles are actively tending to last year's nest within the Pinery Narrows area in CVNP. To protect the eagles from human disturbance, the area surrounding the nest tree will be closed until July 31, 2014. More »

  • Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) Bridge Construction Closures

    Rockside and Canal Visitor Center boarding sites will be closed through Apr 27. From Jan 18 - Mar 16, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Brecksville stations. From Mar 22 - Apr, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Peninsula. More »

  • Do Not Feed the Waterfowl and Birds!

    Many people enjoy feeding waterfowl and birds, but the effects of this seemingly generous act can be harmful. Regular feeding can cause: unatural behavior, pollution, overcrowding, delayed migration, and poor nutrition and disease.

  • Closure on Fishing Will Remain in Effect for Virginia Kendall Lake

    Due to the government shutdown, we were unable to survey the fish community in VK Lake as scheduled. Our survey partners (ODNR) will not be able to get into the lake until early spring of 2014. Therefore, the closure on fishing will remain in effect. More »

Natural Features & Ecosystems

Great blue heron

Great blue heron are found in the Cuyahoga River ecosystem.

NPS/ TIM FENNER

An Improved Cuyahoga Ecosystem Flourishes

Seeing a river otter sleekly swim by, hearing a soaring eagle overhead, or counting turtles on a log, are among natural wonders that can be experienced in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). The diversity of animal life has increased within the park and the improved health of the Cuyahoga River is helping to provide healthy habitats wildlife need to flourish.

The history of the Cuyahoga River has been dramatic in scope. The American Indians used the river as a trade route for thousands of years and referred to the river as the "Ka-ih-ogh-ha" or crooked river. Early settlers of the Western Reserve viewed the rapidly falling river as unsuitable for travel but harnessed it as a source to fill the Ohio and Erie Canal built in 1827. The canal brought industrialization to Northeast Ohio but the rapidly developing industrialization came at a cost.

Sewage and industrial waste flowing into the river sparked a series of river fires with the first occurring as early as 1868. From that point on, eight additional river fires occurred with the most notable being the fire of 1969 which gained national attention. Newspapers of the time described the Cuyahoga River as the river that "oozes rather than flows" where a person "does not drown but decays." The river fire of 1969 was among catalysts nationwide that resulted in the development of the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972.

Today the health of the Cuyahoga River is a work in progress. There has been a strong effort to monitor water quality and the key habitats. A focus of the ongoing surveys is to analyze wetlands and neighboring tributaries. These surveys provide valuable insight as to the health of the of plant and animal communities within the river, and the immediate surrounding areas in and adjacent to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The improved river quality of the Cuyahoga River ecosystem is now an attractive place for a variety of animals, including those that had vanished or were scarce. Today it is possible to see river otter, bald eagles, mink, tundra swans and several species of waterfowl, a variety of rare turtles, and several fish including the smallmouth bass and northern pike.

With continued efforts to improve the water quality of the Cuyahoga River coupled with monitoring of freshwater areas, future generations visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park will leave with memories of swimming otter, counting turtles, and soaring eagle.

Did You Know?

Monarch Butterfly - US Fish and Wildlife Service Photo

Early September is the time to watch monarchs feed in Cuyahoga Valley fields rich with goldenrod and New England aster. These places serve as important re-fueling sites for these long distance travelers on their way to oyamel forests near Mexico City more than 2,000 miles away.