Preserving nature’s treasures while progressing toward the future

Summit Metro Parks
4 min readJun 2


Claire Merrick, Marketing and Public Relations Manager

Kayakers paddle by during the 2022 River Celebration at Valley View.

Summit Metro Parks has provided clean and safe parks for more than 100 years and we continue to evolve to serve our community while remaining true to our mission. Improvements and new projects undertaken today set the stage for future generations to enjoy visits to parks in their own back yards.

Whether creating access to the Cuyahoga River at the Valley View Area of Cascade Valley Metro Park, rerouting trails or restoring Sand Run Metro Park, it is crucial to find a harmonious balance between recreation and preservation. Before ground is broken or a structure takes shape, Summit Metro Parks conducts extensive assessments and studies to ensure development that is required for recreational access does not impact sensitive ecological or cultural resources. The park district ensures that most parkland remains untouched — in fact, only 8% of SMP parkland is developed.

These incredible images showing four years of ecological progress from 2016 to 2020 at Valley View. By removing non-native and invasive species (left) and replacing them with a more natural landscape (right), the area can better support a diverse array of wildlife.

Summit Metro Parks is rich in both natural and cultural history that warrants purposeful stewardship to ensure its availability to present and future generations. Many park district resources are under state and/or federal jurisdiction and are legally regulated by these authorities. Even more restrictions often apply where park district-managed land is unowned, encumbered by an easement or deed restriction, or when external funding is involved.

All large-scale development projects begin with a thorough site study by experienced staff ecologists and archaeologists. The site study examines potential and existing environmental features, determining which additional studies might be necessary to meet the criteria of the park district or other authorities for project approval.

Tailored Studies for Different Habitats:

Each park is unique, with its own set of environmental considerations. For example, wetland delineation studies are crucial for projects near wetland areas, while archaeological investigations take precedence in areas with historical (or even prehistoric) significance. Similarly, regions with known rare or endangered species require focused surveys and habitat assessments. The studies conducted are specifically tailored to the unique ecological features of the site, ensuring the environmental impact is thoroughly evaluated and addressed accordingly.

Protecting Rare and Endangered Species:

The habitats of rare and endangered species must be carefully safeguarded. Depending on the region and project location, specialized surveys may be conducted to identify the presence of these species. Ecologists and biologists work diligently to assess the potential impact of construction on their habitats and determine appropriate mitigation measures. These can include creating wildlife corridors, preserving critical habitats or implementing restrictions during sensitive breeding or overwintering seasons to ensure the survival and well-being of these species.

Left: Construction on the Liberty Park Nature Center in 2014. Right: In 2016, a female northern harrier hawk — an Ohio endangered species — was sighted at Liberty Park (photo by City of Twinsburg Naturalist Stanley Stine).

Safeguarding Streams and Waterways:

Streams and waterways are essential components of a natural landscape, supporting aquatic ecosystems and acting as a vital water source for various organisms. To protect these precious resources, projects must carefully consider potential impacts on streams. Environmental assessments evaluate the project’s potential effects on water quality, flow patterns and aquatic life. Measures such as erosion control techniques, sedimentation basins and buffer zones can be implemented to prevent soil erosion and sediment runoff into streams, ensuring preservation of their health and integrity.

Navigating Wetlands:

Wetlands are valuable ecosystems that provide habitat for diverse plant and animal species while playing a crucial role in water purification and flood mitigation. Wetland delineation studies determine the extent and boundaries of wetland areas within the proposed construction site. This helps identify areas that should be protected and avoided during construction to minimize disturbance and maintain the ecological balance of these sensitive habitats.

The acquisition of the Tallmadge Meadows Area of Munroe Falls Metro Park allowed the park district to design and execute a construction project to bring back the area’s natural hydrology. Left: Work at Tallmadge Meadows in 2009. Right: A restored vernal pool after construction in the Tallmadge Meadows Area flourishes with biodiversity.

Unveiling Cultural Heritage:

Cultural resources, such as archaeological sites and historic landmarks, hold immense historical and cultural significance. Prior to construction, experts conduct thorough archaeological investigations and surveys to identify any potential cultural resources within the project area. These studies unearth artifacts, remnants of past civilizations, or other archaeological treasures. Through careful planning, construction can be adjusted or modified to avoid disturbing or destroying these valuable cultural resources, allowing them to be preserved and shared with future generations.

Through comprehensive studies and assessments, potential project sites are meticulously evaluated, accounting for natural features like wetlands and streams, rare or endangered species and cultural resources. These practices ensure the safeguarding of natural treasures, allowing the park district to progress while maintaining a healthy and balanced environment. By striking a harmonious chord between construction and conservation, we can build a future that respects both human needs and the wonders of the natural world.



Summit Metro Parks

Summit Metro Parks manages 15,000 acres, 16 parks, three nature centers and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at