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Environment & Energy

CVNP Volunteer Wins National Award

a photo of Mike Schnellinger
The National Park Service recognized CVNP volunteer Mike Schnellinger in a virtual ceremony.

A Cuyahoga Valley National Park volunteer has won a national award for his efforts to help park visitors and his work to renew and restore the Cuyahoga River. Mike Schnellinger was recognized during a virtual ceremony Tuesday.

National Park Service deputy director David Vela says Schnellinger has volunteered more than 700  hours in the last three years as a trailblazer on the Towpath and other parks trails and as a leader in establishing the Cuyahoga Valley volunteer river patrol.

“Mike’s work improved the preventative search and rescue efforts in the park, increased the park’s ability to meet the needs of water trail partners and was key to achieving the designation of the water trail.”

The Cuyahoga River was designated a water trail last year in conjunction with celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the most infamous time it caught fire.

Schnellinger received the George and Helen Hartzog Award for volunteerism, named after former national park service director George Hartzog, who created the volunteers in parks program.

Schnellinger says he's paddled the river for 30 years and became a park volunteer when he retired. 

Mike Schnellinger talks about his volunteer work in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

"I've been an advocate for the river my whole life. Now I can do it in a more official capacity and we have handouts to give people with maps on them. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the burning of the river, to celebrate how much cleaner it is now so we can encourage people to be in here, show them how to do it safely."