Cleveland may not be known for its gemstones, but the reservations that encircle much of the city are the crown jewels of Cleveland Metroparks.
Metroparks has grown and evolved with the Cleveland metropolitan area since William Stinchcomb founded the parks in 1917. His vision was an “Emerald Necklace” of parkland surrounding the growing city, which today consists of 18 reservations and 300 miles of trails that span more than 23,000 acres. A four-time national gold medal award recipient for excellence in park and recreation management, Metroparks has exemplified commitment to a mission of conservation, education and recreation since its establishment.
This tour will take participants around the emerald necklace to visit some of the reservations and travel along their parkways and river systems, highlighting wildlife research and management, habitat restoration and education in a large metropolitan park system.
During a quick 14-minute drive out of downtown, participants will learn a bit about Cleveland’s history, including how funding, grants and restoration projects took the Cuyahoga River from a burning waterway to its current state.
Located within Metroparks’ Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, CanalWay Center will be the first stop. Attendees will learn about the canals and the history of industry in the region. Another topic will be the Re-Connecting Cleveland Project, which is linking trails and green spaces for recreation, restoration and conservation.
At the Bedford Reserve, attendees will take a one-mile hike from Tinker’s Creek Scenic Gorge — a National Natural Landmark — to beautiful Bridal Veil Falls. Multiple wildlife topics will be discussed along the way, including white-tailed deer research and management, a long-term plant community monitoring program paired with wildlife cameras, and challenges of forest management, such as beech leaf disease and oak regeneration.
Attendees will then head to historic Look About Lodge, a beautiful log cabin in South Chagrin Reservation that was built in 1938 to serve as a meeting place for the Cleveland Natural Science Club. In the hemlock forest adjacent to the lodge, Metroparks employees will speak about threats to hemlocks, brook trout projects and restoration partnerships on the reservation.
The trip Around the Emerald Necklace ends at Acacia Reservation, where participants will learn the story of urban ecological preservation this reclaimed golf course represents.