From a Group of Local Citizens to a Regional Land Conservancy

History of West Creek

Formerly West Creek Preservation Committee

Since its founding, West Creek has been a model of citizen action and land conservation, maximizing benefits and leveraging projects to the fullest extent possible. Initially embracing the much-needed role of an urban land trust serving Greater Cleveland, West Creek ultimately evolved into a diverse non-profit conservation organization serving the region. Recognized for its successful conservation and restoration initiatives, West Creek is led by a Board of Directors overseeing a professional Staff and many volunteers.  

The original focus of West Creek was an undeveloped 300-acre natural area in the upper West Creek Valley. In the mid-1990s, the property was slated to become another shopping center and the City of Parma’s second golf course. Despite its location in a densely populated area, and while the creek and surrounding land had suffered severe degradation over the years, the beauty of the natural area endured.

A small group of concerned citizens recognized the value of preserving the West Creek Valley and formed West Creek Preservation Committee. The Committee proposed an alternative to development that would not only preserve the West Creek Valley but make it available for public enjoyment. The Committee used grass-roots efforts and initiatives to convey their vision for preservation, which garnered widespread community support of both citizens and elected officials. Ultimately, the committee was successful in creating the West Creek Preserve and Greenway, a network of recreational trails and corridors linking the park to neighborhoods, other parks and the Towpath Trail.

In 2006, in partnership with the City of Parma, Cleveland Metroparks, and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, West Creek Preserve became West Creek Reservation, a park that serves over 180,000 visitors annually and is home to the Watershed Stewardship Center. Over the years the Reservation has continued to expand through the work of what is now known as West Creek.

West Creek has readily accepted and stepped into roles where the need exists, supporting and assisting partners and communities with a variety of unique and challenging opportunities. West Creek stepped in to serve as the landowner for many critical projects such as Irishtown Bend, Morgana Bluffs Nature Preserve, and the former Haydite Mine.

West Creek’s involvement in Irishtown Bend ultimately facilitates the stabilization of a 23-acre area along the Cuyahoga River protecting vital infrastructure and the integrity of the shipping channel. The property will be transformed into an urban park and provide the key linkage for the Lake Link Centennial Trail’s connection to Wendy Park, Whiskey Island and Lake Erie. Morgana Bluffs Nature Preserve is a restored urban natural environment and land lab for local children in the Slavic Village neighborhood of the City of Cleveland; a unique partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Ohio. The former Haydite Mine in Independence is a 100-acre site bordering Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and the Hemlock Creek Trail. West Creek stepped up to secure the land, see it through the reclamation process, and ultimately integrate it into the national park to provide a unique recreational asset for the region.

West Creek has worked closely with many partners, including Cleveland Metroparks where the transfer of critical parcels to Metroparks has enabled such things as the Lake Link Trail connecting Cleveland’s Lakefront to the Towpath Trail, the creation and expansion of West Creek Reservation as well as other trail and park developments In recognition of its longstanding partnership with Cleveland Metroparks, West Creek was awarded the “Outstanding Support Organization” from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials for helping Cleveland Metroparks conserve greenspace and manage stormwater.

At the present time, West Creek is prioritizing conservation throughout the Lake Erie Watershed and beyond. West Creek continues to share its expertise and provide land conservation services to individuals, partner organizations, and communities. West Creek has protected thousands of acres in dozens of communities across the region, while placing importance on water quality improvement, storm water abatement, wetland and riparian corridor restoration, environmental education and outreach, historic preservation, and natural resource stewardship.

Our Timeline

  • Dave Vasarhelyi gathers local volunteers and forms West Creek Preservation Committee (WCPC), a grassroots organization devoted to protecting over 300 acres of natural area along West Creek in Parma
  • WCPC develops and publicly presents the vision for the West Creek Preserve and Greenway
  • WCPC receives its first project grant for educational outreach (from Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network)
  • News reports indicate multiple proposals to build a combined shopping complex and golf course on city and privately-owned land along West Creek, which would destroy Parma’s largest remaining green space
  • Following a successful WCPC initiative petition in which over 6,000 voter signatures are gathered in 10 days, Parma voters reject by 72% a proposed golf course and choose to protect natural habitat on 162 acres of city-owned land and dedicate it as West Creek Preserve
  • WCPC is awarded its first foundation grant for educational outreach (from Gund Foundation)


  • WCPC assists the newly-formed Parma Park Advisory Committee; WCPC begins to facilitate and later leads land acquisition efforts to expand West Creek Preserve and begin creation of the West Creek Greenway
  • WCPC succeeds in having the West Creek area incorporated into the Ohio & Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor, signifying its regional historical significance

  • WCPC incorporates as an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization
  • West Creek Preserve is officially dedicated as Parma’s first park for conservation
  • Parma voters pass a $3 million bond levy by 62% to purchase 72 acres of prime woodlands and wetlands from Gannett Broadcasting to enlarge West Creek Preserve; WCPC facilitates the acquisition
  • Cuyahoga County Planning Commission completes the “West Creek Valley Management Plan” identifying strategies for land use, water quality, and recreational trail opportunities in the West Creek watershed
  • Using a combination of grant funds, WCPC purchases its first conservation property, a 1.5-acre site along West Creek at Pleasant Valley Road in Parma
  • WCPC leads successful efforts to protect 40 additional acres of West Creek Valley adjacent to West Creek Preserve
  • WCPC receives a $730,000 grant in the 1st round of Clean Ohio conservation funding to acquire over 60 acres for the West Creek Greenway; WCPC will be awarded Clean Ohio funds in every subsequent round
  • WCPC receives an Ohio EPA grant to hire a watershed coordinator
  • Under the direction of Professor Terry Greathouse of Cuyahoga Community College, WCPC, CCC, the City of Parma, and hundreds of volunteers collaborate to create 2 acres of wetlands in West Creek Preserve
  • WCPC opens its first office, at Rockside Plaza in Parma, and hires its first staff member
  • WCPC partners with Trust for Public Land and the City of Parma to save the historic Henninger House from demolition and acquire it for a future trailhead along the West Creek Greenway; the canal-era property includes the oldest structure in Parma
  • WCPC partners with the Village of Brooklyn Heights to protect the threatened 27-acre Eagle Glen parcel along West Creek, doubling the size of Brooklyn Heights Park
  • Parma Park Advisory Committee, with support from the City of Parma and WCPC, completes and opens the first mile of trail in West Creek Preserve; it includes a scenic steel bridge spanning West Creek
  • WCPC and the City of Parma complete acquisition of 72-acre Gannett property, which is added to West Creek Preserve
  • Cleveland Metroparks announces discussions regarding a lease of West Creek Preserve for a new reservation; public input workshops are held
  • WCPC partners with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for stream habitat restoration projects along West Creek
  • WCPC, the City of Parma, and Cleveland Metroparks enter into a lease agreement in which Metroparks will manage West Creek Preserve as its 16th reservation; WCPC will lead efforts to expand and connect new reservation to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
  • WCPC, Cleveland Metroparks, and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District partner to lead watershed stewardship programs out of a planned Watershed Leadership Center at West Creek Reservation
  • Cuyahoga Valley Chamber of Commerce bestows 2006 Organization of the Year award on WCPC for green space preservation, water resource restoration, and creation of a recreational trail network
  • West Creek Greenway trail planning is completed and ready for implementation to connect with the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
  • WCPC aids the City of Seven Hills in receiving a Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency grant for a 1-mile trail segment of the West Creek Greenway east of Broadview Road; it opens by year end
  • WCPC, Trust for Public Land, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and the City of Independence purchase a closed big box store and 10-acre West Creek confluence site to restore the streambed, floodplain, and wetlands, and create a new riverfront park along the Cuyahoga River
  • Parma City Council and Ohio Representative Timothy DeGeeter honor WCPC founder Dave Vasarhelyi and chair Dave Lincheck in celebration of the organization’s achievements on its 10th anniversary
  • WCPC acquires Valley Tavern site in Independence, across from confluence site, to improve wildlife habitat and help manage stormwater along West Creek
  • WCPC completes its first project within the City of Cleveland, acquiring a 22-acre conservation easement on prime riparian corridor, wooded ravine, and restored open space for Treadway Creek Greenway & Trail, the first neighborhood trail west of the Cuyahoga River to connect with the Towpath Trail
  • The West Creek Watershed Action Plan is completed and receives full endorsement by Ohio EPA
  • WCPC acquires a 55-acre conservation easement in the upper Big Creek watershed to form Busch/Snake Hill Conservation Area for future restoration and low-impact recreation
  • WCPC completes and adopts a strategic plan which reinforces its role as an urban land conservancy, formally expands its service area to all of Greater Cleveland, and outlines a plan to grow the organization’s capacity and sustainability
  • WCPC accepts donation of 5-acre Novy property in Brooklyn Heights containing a West Creek tributary on the south side of I-480; it becomes the largest stream restoration initiative on lower West Creek, totaling nearly ½ mile and over $2 million
  • Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District awards WCPC a $30,000 grant in their first round of Watershed Operating Support Grants, which recognizes the importance of local watershed organizations
  • Cosponsors WCPC and Friends of Big Creek lead the first Greater Cleveland Trails Conference in Middleburg Heights
  • Gund Foundation awards WCPC $100,000/year for three years for operation of urban land conservancy
  • Cuyahoga County Natural Resources Advisory Council awards WCPC Round 6 Clean Ohio Conservation Funds totaling $535,000 to protect 6 parcels in Seven Hills and Parma and 2300 feet of stream
  • WCPC receives a $103,000 Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant and a $130,000 Recreational Trails grant for land acquisition along a trail segment connecting Henninger House to Brooklyn Heights Park
  • WCPC accepts donation of 3-acre Penko property in North Royalton containing Big Creek headwaters; proceeds of house sale fund the purchase of additional 3 acres in Brooklyn, critical to proposed Big Creek Connector Trail
  • WCPC protects its first parcel of land within the Euclid Creek watershed in partnership with the City of Cleveland and Friends of Euclid Creek
  • WCPC hires its first executive director
  • WCPC revises its mission statement to better reflect its core principles and countywide service area
  • Cleveland Metroparks announces groundbreaking for $12 million in improvements to West Creek Reservation with partners Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, the City of Parma, and WCPC
  • WCPC and Cleveland Metroparks begin management of GLRI grant for West Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project under West Creek Neighborhood Stewardship Program
  • WCPC partners with OSU Extension and City of Cleveland to reclaim 6 acres of vacant urban land and facilitate Kinsman Farm Project, serving as ongoing landholder and licensor of plots to urban farmers
  • WCPC has conserved or assisted others in the conservation of over 700 acres, owns 66 conservation parcels, and holds 20 conservation easements
  • WCPC hires first bookkeeper/office manager
  • Along with many partners, WCPC and Friends of Big Creek organize the Second Biennial Greater Cleveland Trails & Greenways Conference in Independence
  • WCPC partners with the City of Parma and Cleveland Metroparks to facilitate acquisition of Dentzler Trail land for neighborhood trail connection
  • WCPC adopts West Creek Conservancy (WCC) name to better reflect its primary services
  • WCPC continues to evolve as a land conservancy and watershed protection organization, coordinating stream and wetland restoration projects, conserving additional natural areas, and acquiring land needed for the West Creek Greenway
  • WCPC conservation projects beyond the West Creek watershed grow as WCPC receives an increasing number of inquiries about working in the larger Greater Cleveland community
  • WCC holds its first annual Tails for Trails Dog Walk-a-Thon fundraiser at Seven Hills Recreational Trail
  • WCC is named a Partner-of-the-Year by Cleveland Crops; WCC helped secure 20 acres for their farming operations
  • WCC holds its first large-scale fundraising event, Blues for Greens; a capacity crowd of over 400 attends at Sava Event Center in Broadview Heights
  • Through partnership with Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the City of Parma, and Parma Area Historical Society, WCC facilitates creation of Greater Cleveland’s largest urban farm, Cleveland Crops urban farm at Parma’s Stearns Homestead
  • WCC partners with Friends of Euclid Creek and Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District to create the 9-acre Redstone Run Highland Reserve in Richmond Heights
  • WCC holds its 2nd Annual Tails for Trails Dog Walk-a-Thon at West Creek Reservation
  • WCC assists Cleveland Metroparks in preserving nearly 50 acres in the East Branch watershed of Rocky River, a recognized Blue Heron Rookery with abundant high-quality streams and wetlands
  • Capital improvements by Cleveland Metroparks to the 325-acre West Creek Reservation are completed; West Creek Reservation and Watershed Stewardship Center celebrate their grand opening; WCC opens an office at the new center
  • Gateway to West Creek: Protecting the Confluence, a 10-acre restoration project in Independence, breaks ground to provide emergency floodplain, storm water storage, and natural parkland at West Creek’s confluence with the Cuyahoga River
  • WCC secures an additional 10 acres from Gannett Broadcasting for future incorporation into West Creek Reservation
  • In partnership with Cleveland Metroparks, WCC completes the 2nd and 3rd phases of a model stormwater retrofit program for residential areas; impact on water quality is notable
  • WCC sponsors an Ohio Historical Society marker for Parma’s Henninger Homestead; a well-attended dedication event also features installation of a commemorative brick plaza
  • WCC acquires 7 acres of woodlands and headwater streams for future Dentzler Trail connection between West Creek Reservation and Stearns Homestead in Big Creek Watershed; Cleveland Metroparks completes three bridges crossing West Creek to reach Dentzler Road
  • WCC partners with Friends of Euclid Creek and Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District to protect 19 acres containing rare urban wetlands adjoining Highland Heights Park
  • WCC holds its 2nd Blues for Greens conservation gala at St. Michael’s Woodside in Broadview Heights; a capacity crowd of over 400 again attends
  • Along with many partners, WCC and Friends of Big Creek organize the Third Biennial Greater Cleveland Trails & Greenways Conference in Mayfield Village
  • WCC conserves a 22-acre property in Brooklyn Heights having ½ mile of Cuyahoga River shoreline
  • WCC transfers to Cleveland Metroparks a parcel purchased in 2012, near Scranton Road in Cleveland, critical to forming the Lake Link Trail, which will join Cleveland’s lakefront to the Towpath Trail
  • Partnering with the City of Independence to develop the Hemlock Creek Trail, WCC launches a funding campaign to complete this key link between West Creek Reservation and Cuyahoga Valley National Park, extending the West Creek Greenway to the Towpath Trail; WCC leverages over $510,000 toward the project
  • WCC partners with the City of North Royalton, Rocky River Watershed Council, and Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District to complete a headwater restoration project in Healey Creek, part of the Rocky River watershed
  • WCC hires its first Stewardship and Outreach Manager, which significantly increases plantings, clean-ups, invasive species removal days, community event staffing, newsletter production, and hikes/tours
  • WCC leverages over $25,000 to complete restoration of Henninger House windows and doors
  • For a cost of over $550,000, WCC acquires properties totaling over 30 acres in the upper reaches of the West Creek Valley that enable extension of West Creek Reservation to key destinations: Broadview and Pleasant Valley Roads, and Normandy High School
  • WCC conserves 17 acres of floodplain along 2,200 feet of Baldwin Creek, a tributary of Rocky River
  • WCC is awarded $3.5 million in Clean Ohio funds to conserve over 276 acres, including the 80-acre Parmadale campus next to West Creek Reservation and 180 acres in the Village of Valley View
  • WCC partners with Tinker’s Creek Watershed Partners and the City of Warrensville Heights to conserve 16 acres along Hawthorne Creek containing wetlands and expanding 30 adjoining acres of protected habitat
  • WCC coordinates the creation of the Central Lake Erie Collaboration, a group of 14 regional watershed organizations spanning 130 miles from Conneaut River to Sandusky Bay, to work on shared water quality issues
  • WCC obtains a 75-acre easement on high-quality wetlands holding 3,000 feet of Tinkers Creek headwater streams in Aurora to help buffer the adjacent 400-acre Aurora Wetlands Park from approaching sprawl
  • WCC, Big Creek Connects, and other partners organize the Fourth Biennial Greater Cleveland Trails & Greenways Conference in Brecksville
  • WCC acquires 14 acres of Chippewa Creek floodplain in Broadview Heights containing 1,400 feet of stream
  • WCC partners with Fairview Park and Rocky River Watershed Council, obtained a conservation easement on 12 acres in Coe Creek valley to preserve 3,000 feet of stream flowing into Rocky River Reservation
  • WCC holds Up! A Creek, its award-winning conservation gala, at West Creek Reservation to celebrate the organization’s 20th year of local land conservation
  • WCC conserves 50 more acres along West Creek in Parma, which is added to West Creek Reservation in 2019
  • WCC acquires 35 acres of high-quality wetland to buffer Tinkers Creek State Nature Preserve in Aurora from nearby development
  • WCC partners with Slavic Village, Cleveland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland to conserve 4.5 acres of Morgana Run valley for a nature preserve and land lab for local children; Morgana Bluffs Nature Preserve opens in 2019
  • WCC accepts a 20-acre conservation easement in Cuyahoga Falls containing over 3,000 feet of stream flowing into Mud Brook, a tributary of the Cuyahoga River
  • Partnering with The Nature Conservancy, WCC preserves 117 acres of Cuyahoga River headwaters in Montville Township for eventual restoration of streams and wetlands
  • WCC removes 12 impermeable acres from the former Parmadale campus, significantly reducing runoff to the headwater streams of West Creek
  • WCC acquires a 100-acre former mining site in Independence for restoration; most of the site will eventually transfer to Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • WCC acquires 14 acres of Irishtown Bend near downtown Cleveland as part of a larger partnership to allow the Port Authority to stabilize a critical hillside and protect the Cuyahoga River’s navigation channel; partners will ultimately transform the 17-acre site into an urban park
  • WCC is honored with a National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO) Outstanding Support Organization Award for its ongoing work with Cleveland Metroparks to conserve greenspace and manage stormwater
  • WCC protects 60 acres near Hampton Hills Metro Park in Akron holding Native American cultural sites
  • Partnering with Euclid Creek Watershed Council, Friends of Euclid Creek, and Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, WCC acquires 37 acres in Highland Heights to protect high-quality wetlands and unique prairie remnants from development, creating the Dusty Goldenrod Preserve
  • The City of Independence, WCC, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and other partners celebrate the dedication of Hemlock Creek Trail, a 2-mile segment of the West Creek Greenway joining the Towpath Trail
  • WCC conserves 16 acres of the former Sycamore Golf Course in Cuyahoga Falls to buffer Mud Brook from development and for a potential trail link to the Towpath Trail, then acquires 84 more acres in Akron’s Merriman Valley to further protect Mud Brook
  • WCC partners with Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners to acquire 37-acre easement from City of Bedford containing 3,700 feet of Tinker’s Creek, for stream and habitat restoration
  • WCC acquires easement on 10 acres of high-quality wetland in Amherst as part of a mitigation program with EnviroScience, the first step in protecting 200 more acres of nearby wetlands
  • WCC acquires 202 acres of Brandywine Creek habitat in Northfield Township, a priority conservation area containing over 100 acres of wetland and 2 miles of stream
  • WCC applies for over $7 million in Clean Ohio funds to acquire over 500 acres across 6 northeast Ohio counties

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