Cuyahoga Valley National Park Using Prescribed Burn to Control Invasive Species

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Getty)

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has announced plans to use prescribed burn at the site of the old Richfield Coliseum to control invasive species.

According to, Cuyahoga Valley National Park has scheduled a controlled burn for Monday (October 24th). It will torch about 40 acres along Route 303 and Interstate 271. This is where the Richfield Coliseum used to host concerts as well as Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games. 

The park notably acquired the site of the Richfield Coliseum, which operated from 1974 to 1994, in the late ‘90s. The national park ended up having the establishment demolished in 1999. Since then, the land has been converted into a bird habitat. 

Pamela Barnes, a spokeswoman for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, stated that the original plan after the coliseum was removed was to allow the property to transition back to native woodland. However, after some karate and grassland bird species such as Savannah sparrows and bobolinks were discovered in the area, it was decided to keep the area as grassland and form a habitat in short supply. 

Officials with the national park revealed that the “prescribed burn” is designed to get rid of invasive species. It will also allow for more native plants to take seed. Chris Davis, a plant ecologist with the park, said the invasive species include non-native grasses. This includes red fescue and redtop. Canada thistle, teasel, and autumn olive have also created problems in the area. 

Autumn olive, a shrub with fragrant follows and red berries, is considered the “biggest” menace. Davis stated that the shrub drives away nesting birds. Although burning it will not kill the shrub, it will make it easier to control with chemicals or by cutting when it re-sprouts. 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Says the Fire Will Not Kill Grasses 

Although the fire will not kill grasses, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park says that the fire will turn the thatch created from reported cuttings into ash will make it easier for native species to take seed when planted in 2023. These native species are Indian grass and little bluestem. 

It was also noted that the national park has prescribed burns for other situations. This includes Terra Vista Nature Study Area off Tinkers Creek Road. Barnes noted that the former sand and gravel pit is now being used to study butterfly populations. 

The burn at where the Richfield Coliseum used to stand will take about two to three Horus. In order to contain the blaze, the national park will cut a strip of grass around the acreage very short. It will then dampen grass with water. Team members will use drop torches to light the burn area. They will start in the same corner and go in opposite directions around it until they meet on the other side.