Forest Hill Park needs our help

A fallen tree in Forest Hill Park. Photo by Dick Secor.

Calling all friends of Forest Hill Park: your favorite place to (check one) walk, run or hang out with (check one) your boyfriend, girlfriend, children or dog, needs your help. 

Forest Hill Park means much to many people. With its huge old-growth oaks, large open meadows, and steep wooded ravines, it is a natural treasure—an old-world deer park transplanted into the middle of an American city. 

It is a place where dogs and children can romp, golfers can practice golfing in the rough, and old folks can stroll, nodding amiably as they pass. It is a place for all peoples and ethnicities, the rich and the not so rich, the immigrant and the native, the frail and the fit.  

It is a place where one may see a fox or coyote, converse with crows, watch children squealing over baby raccoons grubbing in the ball field, be surprised by the flight of a flying squirrel, or see a 10-point buck in the fall with the evening sun shining red on his antlers, his velvet hanging in tatters.

But our favorite park has many problems. They are mostly problems of age and benign neglect. Some of these problems, like the collapsing retaining walls around Lake Brewster, are sizable projects for which outside funding must be found. But other problems are within the scope of willing helpers. Maybe you.

When the park was established, the woods and the oaks were young, growing and healthy. Today those oaks have become massive old trees. Many suffer from disease and fungus. Many have lost whole limbs, and some of the park’s big trees have died and fallen. There is a big dead oak by the footbridge, for example, which will require serious tree removal equipment to safely bring down. In the meantime, it is a threat to pedestrians walking on the path beneath it.

The park has lost 15 trees in the last year on the East Cleveland side alone. The Cleveland Heights section also has dead and dying trees. Right now the emphasis is on saving the big oaks in the Great Meadow. Foresters believe feeding the oaks would make them more resistant to disease. 

Can you help feed a tree? For more information on how you can get involved, visit The East Cleveland Parks Association at

Elsa Johnson is a Cleveland Heights resident, a landscape architect and a member of the East Cleveland Parks Association.

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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 12:09 PM, 02.18.2010