Cuyahoga Valley National Park is open every day with volunteers despite cutbacks from sequestration

Volunteers donate 200,000+ hours each year

PENINSULA, Ohio - Sequestration has affected Cuyahoga Valley National Park by reducing its budget by 5 percent, or $600,000. Although this is squeezing staff and resources, the good news is the park is still there and it operates every day in part because of over 5,500 volunteers.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park was just ranked in the top ten most visited national parks in the country. When they arrive, the first place people go is the visitor center for a map, a schedule of events and recommendations on what to do.

"They come in and they want to see Brandywine Falls, they want to ride their bikes and they want to ride the train, those are the three number one things that people come through the doors and say here's my list this is what I want to see and then from there they learn about places like Kendall Ledges, and they can go see Indigo Lake, and they can hit the beaver marsh at the southern end of the park," said park ranger Brady Bourquin.

The Boston Store is one of four visitor centers staffed with a ranger and volunteers ready to help. Volunteers range in age from 12 to well into their 80s collectively donating more than 200,000 hours every year.

"They are doing everything from working visitor center desks to patrolling trails on bicycle and horseback and with dogs and on foot, they are out there working on kids programming, they are working with the maintenance division in trail sweeps, they are in the offices doing filing and photocopying, whatever it is that happens in this park it's backed up by volunteers," said Bourquin.

There's a special volunteer center, brochures and a volunteer newsletter explaining events and training opportunities

"We have specific training for different volunteer jobs but we also provide training opportunities that are holistic in nature that kind of give you a well-rounded national park experience, so that even if your focus is working on trails you still have the chance to learn about the Ohio and Erie Canal or the agriculture here in the valley or the history of the tow path trail or anything like that that might come in handy while you're out and also to enrich yourself as a well-rounded person," said Bourquin.

Whether you want to experience the park as a volunteer or as a visitor, you will soon discover why it is the 10th most visited national park.

"Cuyahoga Valley National Park does not have a Half Dome or doesn't have the Grand Canyon but what we do have is a chance to immerse yourself in green space and along a trail and history without getting too far out of the city," said Bourquin.

You can the help the park by becoming a member of CVNP, making a donation or volunteering your time.

To become a member visit:
http://www.conservancyforcvnp.org/help/become-a-member/

To learn more about volunteering visit:
http://www.nps.gov/cuva/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm

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