Agreement Would Protect 620 Acres Near Blossom Music Center (OH)

July 1, 2008
Ohio

CLEVELAND, 7/1/2008: The Ohio State Office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization, announced today that it has worked out an agreement with the Musical Arts Association (MAA) to protect approximately 620 acres surrounding the Blossom Music Center. Under the plan, which depends upon congressional funding, TPL will purchase this spectacular forested land and convey it to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for public enjoyment. The MAA will retain approximately 140 acres containing the Blossom Music Center, which contains the Blossom Amphitheater and other facilities as a cultural and entertainment venue.

"The property adjacent to the Blossom Music Center is a crucial acquisition because of its location, natural and scenic resource significance and the likelihood of significant development if not permanently conserved," said Bill Carroll, Ohio Director of The Trust for Public Land. "The property holds so much meaning for the people of Northeast Ohio. Through this important partnership with the National Park Service and the Musical Arts Association, we have an opportunity to ensure that it will be available for future generations to enjoy."

"We are grateful that MAA is willing to make this remarkable land available for public conservation," added Carroll. "Our hope is that a conservation purchase can honor their commitment to this special area, provide critically needed parkland and allow the Orchestra to maintain vital cultural programs that benefit our community."

The property was purchased in parcels from private owners in the 1960s and 70s by the MAA for the purpose of creating the renowned Blossom Music Center, a vital and exceedingly popular outdoor performing arts destination in Northeast Ohio. MAA has made some 620 acres of those lands - natural, park-quality land within the bounds of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park - available for purchase by the NPS. The 140-acre Blossom Music Center property will remain in place as a cultural and entertainment venue.

Richard J. Bogomolny, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Musical Arts Association, said, "It is our intent to move forward as partners with The Trust for Public Land to ensure that funding to acquire the land is secured by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Any sale of the land will have no effect on our current operation of Blossom Music Center, the most beautiful and acoustically superior outdoor musical venue in America."

The site is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's top-priority for protection this year. The property's mature forests are integral to a 1,200-acre block of unfragmented forest in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Only a few similar areas exist within park boundaries. Large-block forests and the natural communities that rely upon them are rapidly disappearing across Northeast Ohio. Among the property's greatest and most irreplaceable public values are its recreational opportunities and its remarkable scenic character in an otherwise developed and crowded metropolitan area.

The ability to protect this property depends on appropriations from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Ohio's congressional delegation has long supported protection efforts at the national park and is seeking funds for this purchase.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said, "Blossom Music Center is a cultural treasure, and its surrounding forest deserves our protection. The addition of this land will further the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's status as a premier site for nature lovers."

"I am very pleased that The Trust for Public Land has partnered with the Musical Arts Association to help us preserve this important resource for the public," said U.S. Representative Betty Sutton. "I will continue to work to secure federal assistance so that millions of visitors and families can continue to visit and enjoy the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a true national treasure."

"I commend The Trust for Public Land for its vision in understanding the vital need to assist in acquiring this major piece of property within the boundary of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Since the park's establishment in 1974, it has emerged as a central historical, recreational and economic magnet for Northeast Ohio, and the addition of this piece of property will significantly enhance these aspects of the park by protecting the resource for future generations," said U.S. Representative Ralph Regula.

This effort also has received a wide range of support from community leaders and groups.

"Our members have expressed deep concern about protection of this land," said Deb Yandala, Chief Executive Officer of Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association. "The local community would like to see this be a win-win situation for both the national park and the Musical Arts Association. We appreciate the leadership of The Trust for Public Land in protecting this valuable piece of property for land preservation and public enjoyment."

Since it was founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land has helped protect more than 2.2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Ohio, The Trust for Public Land has protected 10,000 acres valued at more than $67 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its mission to preserve land for people. The organization receives leadership support from the George Gund Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation and the George B. Storer Foundation.

Located between Cleveland and Akron, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park conserves the Cuyahoga River valley and the parallel historic canal and railroad corridors in Summit and Cuyahoga counties. The park is a major year-round outdoor-recreation attraction in Northeast Ohio with over 2.5 million visitors a year. As one of the most visited national parks in the country, the conserved forests, farmlands and wetlands offer visitors nearly 33,000 acres of local, state and federal land for recreation, outdoor enjoyment and the opportunity to view wildlife and several waterfalls in a natural setting, all within easy access of a major metropolitan area.