Wilding The Golf Course

Map by Anna Yantek / Ideastream Public Media, with satellite imagery via the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

We do not mind the sport, per se, but its footprint is quite problematic. This story by Abigail Bottar with photos and video by Ryan Loew is worth a few minutes of your time, either reading or listening, if you want to see what is possible to mitigate the footprint:

Stacey Rusher, director of park projects at the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, holds maps of the former Brandywine Country Club golf course property.

Back to nature

At the former Brandywine golf course in Peninsula, a national park acquisition is allowing Mother Nature to retake her land.

On a warm winter day, Stacey Rusher serves as a guide through what used to be the par three golf course at the former Brandywine Country Club. Through fields of dry brush, up leaf-covered hills and past resting geese, she arrives at the banks of the Cuyahoga River.

Rusher is the project manager for the land which was recently acquired by Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and she’s taken community members on countless hikes like this one to show them why this old golf course should be part of the national park.

“This is just one of several but not very many great views of the Cuyahoga River where folks can actually get up close,” Rusher said, “so our property runs along this bank and follows the railroad tracks up to Peninsula.”

Cuyahoga Valley National Park added the 198 acres of land overlooking the Cuyahoga River in December. The park took ownership of the former golf course from the nonprofit Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which purchased it in 2021.

While overlooking the river, it’s easy to see why the Conservancy, a friends group that supports the national park, believes this land was destined to become part of the park.

“The land really speaks for itself,” Conservancy President and CEO Deb Yandala said. “We’d get people out there, and they’d say, ‘Of course this should be part of the national park. What else would we want this to be?’”

But that’s the opposite of what some officials in surrounding Peninsula wanted to happen. When the land went on the market in 2019, Peninsula officials had hoped it would be purchased by a developer and become taxable land. Currently, about 60% of the village is owned by the national park or the Conservancy – and neither pays property taxes. The Conservancy does make donations to Peninsula, Yandala said, but it hasn’t been enough to support the village.

Many residents of the village, though, opposed development. It was ultimately the right decision for the land to become part of the national park, Park Superintendent Lisa Petit said.

“We really felt that we heard the public outcry,” Petit said, “and we feel very supported that we did the right thing in protecting this property and putting it back in the hands of the public.”

Read the whole story here.

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