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Cuyahoga Valley National Park Celebrates the National Park Service's Centennial

photo of Smokey the Bear

Cuyahoga Valley National Park celebrated the National Park Service’s 100th birthday over the weekend. And as WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, officials have some ideas about how to help the park thrive for another century.

Thousands of people enjoyed music, kayaking and face painting at Howe Meadow in Peninsula on Sunday. It’s part of what started as the Cuyahoga Valley Recreation Area in 1974 and was designated a national park in 2000.

Ranger Pam Barnes says park officials are using the parks service’s centennial to encourage people -- regardless of background -- to “find your park.”

“No matter what their interest is, there’s something for you here: to find a source of recreation, a place to get away or a place to volunteer. We have over 5,000 volunteers.”

Barnes says they also want to encourage more people to kayak and canoe on lakes in the park and, someday, as the water quality improves, on the Cuyahoga River.

She calls it a “story of reclamation,” and she hopes to see it continue in the park’s next century.

“The Cuyahoga River is now a source of recreation, which was once a source of shame. A garbage dump -- which was right across the street from where we’re standing right now -- is now a teeming habitat for over 200 species of birds and wildlife. People come from all over to see it.”

Barnes notes that the CVNP is unique among the nation’s parks since it’s sandwiched between two large urban areas and contains a number of former farms and industrial sites.