Water has a perfect memory

Summit Metro Parks
2 min readMar 14, 2024

Jen M. Harvey, Chief of Philanthropy

The Cuyahoga River through the Valley View Area of Cascade Valley Metro Park.

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” ~ Toni Morrison

There is a different way of telling the story of the Cuyahoga River now. Change has been slow, like the view from a kayak with the shore slipping by as you cover more miles than you might think. The river has been freed of dams in Brecksville, Kent, Munroe Falls and Cuyahoga Falls. Floodplains, riffles and bends are being actively restored. For those who live here, the changes are incremental. But now, we can pull that kayak into an eddy, look around and see how far we’ve come.

As water quality improves, biologists are reintroducing fish species that have been missing for years. In October 2023, the USEPA announced pivotal funding to remove the massive Gorge Dam — the largest remaining impact on the river’s water quality. The Cuyahoga will flow freely again.

Summit Metro Parks is bringing river access to the Valley View Area of Cascade Valley Metro Park so that people can enjoy more of the renewed river. Spanning eight acres, the project includes a canoe and kayak put-in, accessible pathways, observation areas and gathering spaces. It’s designed to welcome you to this actively restored and recovering ecosystem.

The Gorge Dam along the Cuyahoga River. Photo by Erin Krumpe.

Parks protect critical areas of the river as it flows through Northeast Ohio from the headwaters to Lake Erie. Your support of these parks has made all the difference. Preserved areas foster native vegetation along the banks that filter runoff, keeping the water shaded for cool-water aquatic habitat. The river and these areas along it provide a crucial migration corridor for birds and other wildlife.

Our river does indeed have a perfect memory, and it’s getting back to the way it was — a free-flowing, clean resource for wildlife and people. The Summit Metro Parks Foundation creates a lasting local impact in many ways, including protecting our river and helping provide outstanding places like the new river access area for you to enjoy.

To donate to the Summit Metro Parks Foundation, visit our website or send a check to the Summit Metro Parks Foundation at 975 Treaty Line Road, Akron, Ohio, 44313.

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

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