GAR Foundation Awards $1 million to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park   

August 13, 2014

This press release was originally posted on the GAR Foundation’s website >

The Distribution Committee of GAR Foundation announced a $1 million grant to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park at its August meeting. The grant supports the building of a new Visitor Center for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Conservancy’s Trails Forever campaign, an initiative which directly engages the public to ensure that the Conservancy trail system is maintained and preserved for all time, for all people.

“The Cuyahoga Valley National Park consistently lands in the top ten to twelve most-visited national parks, and visitors are coming from greater distances than they used to,” said GAR President, Christine AmerMayer. “GAR sees the Visitor Center as an important asset to our national park that will improve visitors’ park experience and orient them to the many destinations they can visit in our region.”

The Conservancy, a membership organization which serves as the nonprofit partner and friends group of the national park, boasts over 3,000 members dedicated to the fundraising, enhancement and preservation of the park. “People love the trails of Cuyahoga Valley National Park,” said Deb Yandala, chief executive officer of the Conservancy. “Support of our Trails Forever fund will help us maintain and protect our popular trails for years to come.”

One of the only urban national parks, the Cuyahoga Valley attracted 2.1 million visitors in 2013 and encompasses 33,000 acres and 104 miles of trails between Akron and Cleveland. Despite all these assets, Cuyahoga Valley National Park lacks a full-service Visitor Center.

 “A centralized, state-of-the-art visitor center is an important asset for future visitors to Cuyahoga Valley National Park,” said Craig Kenkel, superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “The center will be in a very visible historic location along the Cuyahoga River, scenic railroad, and scenic byway, and will let us provide first-time and out-of-town visitors, whose numbers increase every year, with a great orientation to the park,” said Kenkel.

The Conservancy will redevelop the historic Zielenski Court building in the center of Boston Township and will utilize state-of-the-art media technology such as digital exhibits and kiosks to provide park visitor services. 

Situated between Akron and Cleveland along Riverview Road, the Visitor Center location will provide a highly accessible site to park goers from all directions with nearby access to I-271, I-80 and Route 8.

“We are grateful to GAR Foundation for providing generous support to this exciting work,” said Yandala.  “GAR’s leadership gift will make a difference in the future of our national park.”

 The current fundraising campaign comes at a special time for the nonprofit, as the park celebrates its 40thanniversary this year. Also, 2016 marks a Centennial milestone for the National Park Service, the entity which operates the park. The Conservancy anticipates construction of the Visitor Center to begin in 2016. For more information about the Conservancy, visit