Bald Eagle Landing on Nest/ Shutterstock Image

Bald Eagle Landing on Nest/ Shutterstock Image

Cuyahoga Sparks A Movement Part 2

Shaka Guide


Now, we're about five minutes from the Boston Mill Visitor Center. Along the way, we're going to pass an example of just how good this park is at conservation.

Which makes this the perfect time to finish our story about the Cuyahoga River.

Earlier in the tour, I mentioned that the Cuyahoga Valley is a shining example of the power of conservation.

The valley and especially the river are unrecognizable compared to what they looked like in the 1960s. Let me put it this way. 

Historical Pollution and Environmental Legislation

Have you ever heard of Earth Day or the Clean Water Act of 1972? Or how about the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA? Well, all of those things exist because of just how polluted the Cuyahoga River used to be.

Remember the river fire of 1969? You know, the one Time Magazine wrote about? Well, just six months later, a federal grand jury launched an investigation into the cause of the fire.

When they released their findings and the public learned about all the industrial pollution, the outcry was so loud that Congress responded by passing the 1972 Clean Water Act. 

Cuyahoga's Transformation

As a result, businesses could no longer pump toxins into the water and dams had to be removed. Slowly but surely, things improved. Nowadays, you can catch people kayaking and fishing in the river. 

Something that would have been unthinkable just a decades ago. Actually,

Cuyahoga is now considered an American Heritage River because of its place in conservation history. And it's not just the river that's improving.

For example, we're about to pass an area on the left, formerly known as the Cretchy Dump.

Starting in 1948, it was a salvage yard and a toxic waste disposal facility. Less than one mile from the river, the dump had no oversight and no regulations.

So the toxins quickly seeped into the ground and water. Then in 1985, the National Park Service purchased the dump.

It was so contaminated that it was labeled a Superfund site, which allowed the EPA to clean up the area and force the original polluters to pay for it. 

Wildlife Restoration and Improvements

In the case of Cretchy Dump, the EPA collected $50 million from companies like Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

Finally, after more than 30 years, this area is welcoming the return of important animals, like the majestic bald eagle.

A few of the other animals you might catch sight of in the park are coyotes, bobcats, black bears, weasels, otters, whitetail deer, and great blue herons.

When you compare the Cuyahoga Valley today to the valley of 60 years ago, the differences are night and day.

But the work is far from over. The EPA considers the river between Akron and Cleveland to be an area of concern. 

So please, do your part by following the National Park's Leave No Trace guidelines. And let's make sure this river stays clean.

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