The mission of Metroparks Toledo is to conserve the region’s natural resources by creating, developing, improving, protecting, and promoting clean, safe, and natural parks and open spaces for the benefit, enjoyment, education, and general welfare of the public.
Metroparks Toledo will be known nationally as one of the premiere park systems in the country, and it will be recognized as a centerpiece of our region’s appeal as a place to live, work, and visit.
A collection of special places.
Up to four million times a year, people choose to spend time in a Metropark. People recognize that parks are special places to gather, to exercise, recreate and learn about nature.
Metroparks protect our community’s natural resources by using public dollars responsibly to conserve, preserve and restore areas that provide remarkable environmental and economic value for all of northwest Ohio. Parks and open space benefit the community by helping clean the air and water, retain storm water, provide essential habitat for wildlife and enhance property values. Currently, Metroparks is building on one of the world’s great park systems with abundant beauty and biodiversity, boundless opportunities for outdoor adventure, a rich historic legacy and careful planning for the future.
Demonstrating a commitment to the future during trying times.
Although Metroparks began in the most trying of times, in some ways the timing couldn’t have been better. Much of the labor was a provision of the “New Deal,” specifically from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In the early years, thousands of people were put to work building Metroparks at a point in history when Toledo was devastated by the Great Depression. For perspective, in 1930 the Merchants and Manufacturers Association estimated that there were as many as 18,000 Toledoans out of work. In the depths of the depression, Toledo industry suffered an unemployment rate of almost 80%.
The 1930s and The Great Depression were particularly difficult for Toledo and the region, but in hindsight, the work undertaken to build Metroparks helped save a city. The fruits of that era and of that heroic effort to create Metroparks have contributed to Lucas County’s health and prosperity for generations, and will continue to do so.
Connecting parks to parks. And parks to people.
Much of the access to nature Lucas County residents enjoy is provided through Metroparks. Of late, that access to our natural world has improved tremendously. Recently opened parks include Fallen Timbers Battlefield, Wiregrass Lake and Westwinds. New parks under development include Middlegrounds and Howard Marsh.
In addition to new Metroparks, an expanding network of regional trails is connecting parks to one another and to the communities they serve. There are over 120 trail miles within the park system, and Metroparks either manages or is a participating owner in a number of additional trails. Many of these trails connect a diverse collection of parks, preserves and open spaces—some of which are flat, heavily forested, located at water’s edge or agricultural or historical in nature.
We encourage you to come out, get connected and discover the breathtaking natural areas right outside your door.
Here for Everyone
Metroparks does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability or age in the delivery of services.
More than just a pretty place.
The scenic Metroparks where we go to play with our children, attend family reunions and walk our dogs are more than just pretty places—they are important parts of the story we tell about our region.
Residents and regular visitors are well aware of the benefits of the Metroparks. About half of Lucas County residents say they visit a Metropark at least once a month, and almost 70 percent say they visit four to 11 times per year. An estimated 4 million people passed through the gates of the Metroparks in 2015.
The park system also plays a vital role in how the Toledo area presents itself to the world. Our clean, green, safe and scenic parks are part of our region’s identity and quality of life.
Why are Metroparks important? Experts say parks are good for the health and vitality of a community and the environment; help attract residents and visitors; and play a role in attracting businesses to locate here.
More important, here’s what Lucas County residents had to say when asked in a survey.
In addition to their value as places to gather, recreate and learn about nature, the Metroparks represent a public investment that pays returns in many other ways. Parks and open space benefit the community by helping to clean the air and water, retaining storm water, harboring wildlife and enhancing property values. Real estate brokers know that being near a park is often a priority for families looking to relocate.
“Parks make money,” said John Crompton, a Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University, and an internationally-known expert on the value of parks and open space, when he spoke at Wildwood Preserve.
Dr. Crompton explained that private golf communities allocate large amounts of land for open space because they can sell the surrounding residential lots at a premium. In the same way, he said, parks add value to the communities around them. Homes near a nature park can enjoy greater property values than the same home located elsewhere, he said.
He added that parks and open space are vital to recruiting and retaining talented workers and small businesses that have the flexibility to locate anywhere. “CEOs of small businesses want to locate where they want to live,” he said.
His advice to cities: amenities such as parks are as important as other factors, such as business costs, to an economic development plan. “It is key: Make it a nice place to live,” he said.
With the community’s support, making the region a nice place to live has been Metroparks of the Toledo Area’s priority for more than 80 years.
Eight Decades Of Growth
In 1930, The Toledo Metropolitan Board leased land along the former Maumee River side cut from the state of Ohio leading to the creation of Side Cut Metropark. During the quiet period that followed, land was acquired leading to five additional parks: Providence (with Side Cut, in 1930), Oak Openings Preserve (1931), Pearson (1934), Bend View (1935) and Farnsworth (1937). By 1939, Metroparks surpassed 1,000 acres of land with the acquisition of a 273-acre property at Oak Openings Preserve
Metroparks acquired additional acreage at Oak Openings Preserve, and in 1949 purchased 223 acres of land in Richfield Township to establish Secor Metropark. By 1949, with the addition of Secor, Metroparks landholding totaled 3,744 acres.
No new parks were established in the 1950s, but additional land acquisition at Oak Openings Preserve and Secor increased Metroparks landholdings to 4,345 acres by 1959.
Metroparks growth was focused primarily on land acquisition. In 1963 Metroparks established and later expanded Swan Creek Preserve in Toledo. Land acquisition for Swan Creek Preserve and the expansion of Oak Openings Preserve and Secor increased Metroparks landholdings to 4,925 acres by 1969.
Expansion continued throughout the decade with acreage increases at Oak Openings Preserve, Secor, Side Cut and Swan Creek Preserve. In 1971, the park district’s name was changed from Toledo Metropolitan Park District to Metropolitan Park District of the Toledo Area to reflect the district’s countywide focus. Perhaps the most notable event of the decade was the 1975 purchase of the 475-acre Stranahan Estate, leading to the creation of Wildwood Preserve, Metroparks most visited park, in Sylvania Township. By 1979, Metroparks landholdings had expanded to just over 6,000 acres.
No new parks were established in the 1980s. However, in addition to expansion at landholdings at Oak Openings Preserve, Side Cut, Providence, Farnsworth, Swan Creek Preserve and Bend View, in 1982 Metroparks took over management responsibilities of the Fallen Timbers Monument from the Ohio Historical Society. By 1989, expansion of existing parklands increased Metroparks total landholdings to 6,492 acres.
With the donation of the 67-acre Anderson property along Swan Creek on the western edge of the City of Toledo, and the expansion of parklands at Oak Openings Preserve, Bend View, Farnsworth, Swan Creek Preserve and Wildwood Preserve, Metroparks landholdings grow to 6,924 acres.
2000 to Present
From the year 2000 to present, a number of key acquisitions, partnerships and new management agreements have set the stage for a new era of Metroparks
2000 Purchase of Fallen Timbers Battlefield; purchase of former Toledo House of Corrections, which will become Blue Creek Metropark
2001 Purchase of 114 additional acres at Fallen Timbers Battlefield
2002 Expansion of multiple parks including a 303-acre northern expansion of Pearson
2003 Innitiated acquisition plan to establish the Oak Openings Corridor between Oak Openings Preserve and Secor
2004 Acquisition of the 215-acre Nona France Quarry as part of Blue Creek Metropark; donation of Virgina Belt property, Brookwood; expansion of Oak Openings Corridor and multiple parks
2005 Expansion of Oak Openings Corridor
2006 Acquisition of Middlegrounds; expansion of Oak Openings Corridor
2007 Acquisition of parkland near Reynolds Corners; expansion of Oak Openings Corridor and Fallen Timbers Battlefield
2008 Acquisition of 987-acre Howard Farms Property in eastern Lucas County; expansion of Oak Openings Corridor, Fallen Timbers Battlefield, and Blue Creek resulting in acreage exceeding 10,000 acres
2009 Expansion of Oak Openings Corridor, Secor and Providence
2010 Expansion of Oak Openings Corridor and Fallen Timbers Battlefield
2011 Acquisition of Chess Circle Trail with assistance from the Trust for Public Land and other agencies; expansion of Oak Openings Corridor and Side Cut. Acreage surpasses 11,000 acres
2012 Expansion of Oak Openings Greenway Corridor, Secor and Fallen Timbers Battlefield
2013 Expansion of Oak Openings Greenway Corridor and Swan Creek Preserve
2015 Opening of Wiregrass Lake, Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Westwinds Metroparks; final acquisition of Keil Farm property, bringing Metroparks land holdings at just over 12,000 acres.