Volunteers helping to reforest golf course 1 nut at a time
By PAULA SCHLEIS
Oct. 31, 2017
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — It's a unique equation: 500 people + 100,000 nuts = 1 forest.
At least, that's the calculation Summit Metro Parks used this weekend when it sent out waves of volunteers to plant the former Valley View Golf Club with locally harvested oak and walnut seeds.
The goal is to turn almost half of the 200-acre property into woodlands, with the rest of the park given over to a natural meadow and prairie land.
Valley View was a 27-hole golf course off Cuyahoga Street in Akron until 2015. A year later, Metro Parks purchased the property for $4 million and incorporated it into the adjacent Cascade Valley Metro Park.
The nut planting is an inexpensive attempt to reforest the former fairways and greens, park spokesman Nathan Eppink said.
"We've been working on the removal of non-native and invasive species since purchasing the property last fall. Now, we're giving people a chance to help us grow a park, literally from the ground up," he said.
To give the effort its best chance of success, the prospective nuts are being scrutinized by immersing them in water, biologist Rob Curtis said. Good seeds sink.
"Although germination rates for many species are usually very low, we are screening most of ours in advance and tossing most of the bad nuts," Curtis said.
The park district recruited 500 volunteers to spread out through the park on Friday and Saturday.
The site has been prepped for the effort, thanks to a $1.2 million state grant used to rid the property of turf grass and aggressive non-native species.
Meanwhile, park planners still are drawing up a master plan for the new acquisition.
The lush valley connects three existing Metro Parks — Cascade Valley, Gorge and Sand Run — in forming the district's second largest contiguous area, at just under 1,700 acres.
The property was a farm for at least a century before becoming a golf course in 1957.
It will be years before the area is ready for the public, but long-term plans include hiking trails and event facilities. The property also will offer new ways to access the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail near its western boundary.