First Week at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Brandywine Falls

Hello everyone! My name is Sofia Gilroy. I am an Environmental Science student from Brown University (originally from Texas) and this summer I will be stationed in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio! I recently arrived in the park and began trainings to prepare me for my internship as a Great Blue Heron Monitoring Intern and Natural Resource Management Intern. In these roles, I will help Resource Management with citizen science programming, analyze thirty years of Great Blue Heron nest monitoring, and aid with bird banding efforts. So far, I visited Brandywine Falls (a sixty foot tall waterfall), the Boston Mills Visitor Center, the Canal Exploration Center, and Deep Lock Quarry (one of the many Metro Parks within the National Park which are not operated by the National Park Service). 

I cannot wait to visit more of the park including the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The railroad, Towpath Trail, and the Riverview Road Parkway follow the former Ohio & Erie Canalway and the Cuyahoga River through the entire length of the park. These parallel paths allow for a variety of visitors utilizing different modes of transportation (from people on foot to kayaking) and are often described as the “spine” of the park. However, this center of the park was not always such a destination. For decades, the Cuyahoga River was heavily polluted by runoff from industrial factories. The river caught fire at least a dozen times. Its final fire in 1969 led to a string of newspaper stories and the growth of an environmental movement. The incident helped propel forward the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Clean Water Act. The River has been greatly remediated since then and its home became a park operated by the National Park Service in 1975. Currently, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park section of the Cuyahoga River is still listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern. Environmental studies and remediation efforts are ongoing to eventually remove this status. One of these efforts is the Great Blue Heron Monitoring project that I will be working on. Find out more in my next post and at the NPS website!

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