Joe Malmisur, Interpretive Naturalist

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When the first Europeans began to settle what is now known as Ohio, forests covered roughly 95 percent of the land.

However, by 1910 forests covered only 10 percent of our state. With the forest habitat gone, so too went the black bear. The last of these original Ohio black bears was killed in 1881.

Today, these amazing mammals have returned. Though small in number, they can be found roaming through Summit County from time to time. Their homecoming was made possible by the foresight of visionaries in natural resources management and efforts by the Summit Metro Parks conservation department to plant trees and connect green spaces in places like Liberty Park in Twinsburg. If you’re lucky enough to spot a black bear in our parks, savor the moment! We hope you will help celebrate our centennial year by exploring our parks and joining us to plant even more trees as we embark on our next 100 years.

For more stories like this, check out Green Islands Magazine, a bi-monthly publication from Summit Metro Parks. Summit County residents can sign up to receive the publication at home free of charge.

Summit Metro Parks manages 14,000 acres, 16 parks and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at www.summitmetroparks.org.