CEF Updates/Timeline

Updated December 17, 2020:  Your voice was heard! At the Cincinnati Park Board Meeting of December 17, 2020, the Camping and Education Foundation withdrew its proposal for development in Burnet Woods. One of the four pillars of the Preserve Burnet Woods mission is to “Protect” the greenspace. It’s with your energy, petition signing, organizing, and mobilizing that we again protected the ecological integrity of Burnet Woods Park. What’s more is that around a dozen nonprofit organizations throughout the city of Cincinnati worked in coalition with Preserve Burnet Woods to unify the community voice in support of leaving Burnet Woods a truly public park, and defending equity in access to this peaceful greenspace. Thank you!

Update December 9, 2020: Our petition is LIVE! The CTM meeting on December 7th provided approximately 45 minutes of discussion with over 60 participants. Participants were able to view a four-page selective picture of the building concept but there was no substantive presentation by the Park Board, nor was a representative from the Camping and Education Foundation present to answer questions. Participants were unanimous that the new building was not wanted. Commissioner Goetz answered that the matter would be before the Park Board on December 17th.

Update December 7, 2020:  A member of the Cincinnati Park Board has committed to present the building design for The Camping and Education Foundation to Clifton Town Meeting.  The meeting is at 7pm on December 7th.  From the CTM community email: “To join the videoconference click on the following link – https://meet.google.com/idw-posr-aqw?hs=122&authuser=3. To join via phone, dial (413) 369-1286 and use the following PIN – 567 950 589#.” This topic is also on the agenda for the regular Park Board meeting on December 17th.

Update October 30, 2020: A cohort of students from the University of Cincinnati, working under guidance of the Camping and Education Foundation (CEF) over three (3) semesters, present their student project to invited members of Cincinnati Parks staff, Cincinnati Park Board (Jim Goetz and Susan Castellini) and Preserve Burnet Woods. The plan includes changes of significance to the trails, play facilities and includes a new building proposal for CEF inconsistent with prior proposals and agreements. Preserve Burnet Woods acknowledges that the work of the students is impressive and many of the outdoor ideas consistent with prior community engagement warrant further discussion, however, the new building for CEF is not a renovation of Trailside previously explored and stands as new construction. Preserve Burnet Woods is not in favor of the new building proprosal.

Update March 11, 2020:  The Cincinnati Park Board is holding a meeting at the Theodore M. Berry Pavilion in Friendship Park at noon. Per official notice: “The Board of Park Commissioners will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 12:00 P.M., Theodore M. Berry Pavilion, 1135 Riverside Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss, consider, and potentially take action on the following capital projects and their possible impact on other Park Board capital projects: Smale Riverfront Park lot 23; the riverfront boat dock project; and the Urban Wilderness Center partnership with the Camping and Education Foundation at Trailside Nature Center in Burnet Woods.”  No votes were taken at this meeting. The March 19th Park Board meeting was cancelled per COVID-19 public gathering recommendations. 

Update September 19, 2019:  The Cincinnati Park Board voted unanimously to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with The Camping & Education Foundation to continue planning and design preparations for update of the Trailside Nature Center to be inclusive of an Urban Wilderness Center. The MOU will allow further architectural and engineering plans for the building alongside fundraising initiatives to pay for cost of the update.

Update September 9, 2019: On September 10th, there will be an open house at Trailside Nature Center from 6:00-8:00pm for a sneak peak at the Urban Wilderness Center proposal for Trailside Nature Center and conversation about changes coming to Burnet Woods. All are welcome to attend, no invitations required. It is anticipated that this proposal will be made formally at the regularly scheduled September Park Board meeting (9/19 @ 9AM, Park Board Administration Building).

Update July 21, 2019: Planning conversations are underway for the next phase of life for Trailside Nature Center and surrounding Lake Plaza area. We encourage you to take a look at the PRELIMINARY drawings and historic photographs on the Cincinnati Parks website.  Share what you love about the area and what changes you would like to see to the email address provided on the parks website. Community engagement results from last Summer’s sessions have already been made available to the architectural firm designing the changes ahead. It is exciting to see the changes you suggested last Summer be considered in the design process!

Update March 17, 2019: Subsequent to the December vote, Cincinnati Parks convened 2 opening conversations of ‘Burnet Woods Stakeholders’ in early 2019. Preserve Burnet Woods is participating in these conversations. The long term aim of these meetings is to facilitate communication between all organizations with an interest in Burnet Woods, and create a more strongly knit, community-led CPAC for the park. Results from these meetings include development of a team dedicated to Invasive Removals led by PBW & Parks staff and a separate trail walk with the new Park Trail Crew to identify replacement, repair and improvement areas.

Update December 19, 2018: The Cincinnati Park Board voted 3-2 against the CCAC proposal for a new building in Burnet Woods. The Board also voted 4-1 in favor of continuing discussion towards a Memorandum of Understanding with the Camping and Education Foundation to revision/update the Trailside Nature Center.


Please sign our petition in support of keeping Burnet Woods free of unnecessary development: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/preserve-burnet-woods

Petition Text:

We need to inform the Cincinnati Park Board how many people think it’s important to keep Burnet Woods in its current state. It can’t be brought back once it’s lost. Blacktop and concrete are the last use of all natural spaces.

Please sign this petition to help save this one of a kind urban forest with its majestic trees and wildlife diversity for future generations.

Burnet Woods is historically significant with the original park area purchased by the city in 1872 and 1881. It is 90 acres and approximately 50% of its original size. The southern half was acquired by the University of Cincinnati and developed. The most recent loss of parkland occurred in 1950 when the University obtained 18 additional acres.

What remains of Burnet Woods is now a rare urban preserve, home to diverse plant and animal species. The few structures within the park serve only to provide enrichment and enlightenment for park visitors. Since the middle of the last century, the Cincinnati Park Board has not allowed the construction of additional buildings proposed for Burnet Woods. Envisioned structures would have served the community, but their bricks and paved parking areas would have destroyed more of the surviving parkland.

The two buildings most recently proposed for Burnet Woods would likewise reduce the greenspace in the park. The sponsors of the projects, the Clifton Cultural Arts Center and the Camping and Education Foundation, are to be applauded for their past and current contributions to Cincinnati parks, but their requested structures do not belong in Burnet Woods, within the already shrunken boundaries of Clifton’s central greenspace.

The forest in the park is exceedingly diverse in both species composition and in structure. Burnet Woods is an important and special natural resource, both for wildlife and for people. It provides wildlife with the basics of food, water, and shelter. The natural resources of the park delight visitors, ranging in interest from the naturalist to the casual walker. The fact that it is an urban habitat island makes it even more significant to both wildlife and people.

Over 100 species of trees ranging from flowering understory varieties to majestic shade trees 100 feet tall have been identified. The forest floor undergrowth, (wildflowers, ferns, grasses, etc.) is also very species rich. These attributes contribute to the many diverse bird species.

167 different species of birds have been identified in Burnet Woods. 120 of these are transient migrants (birds which migrate through the park in spring and fall). Burnet Woods is critical for these migrants, which is why the park is identified as an Audubon Important Birding Area (IBA). These migrants give the park’s habitat its global importance. Loss of habitat is the major cause of bird population decline. Stopover locations like Burnet Woods are extremely important to the survival of migrants.

Burnet Woods as a central greenspace is also unique in forest species for another reason. The Clifton plateau was less affected by the glaciers than the surrounding areas. Both the geologic and botanical evidence suggests that Burnet Woods is a remnant of the older, more diverse “Mixed Mesophytic Forest” as described by Dr. E. Lucy Braun, Ph.D., University of Cincinnati. It is this diversity of vegetation which is the basis for the ecological importance of the Burnet Woods forest. The many plant species and the complex structure of the forest, with its multiple layers of vegetation, are essential factors in making it such a productive place for wildlife habitat. The same diversity accounts for why it is such a wonderful and appealing place where people can take a break from the strains of our urban environment.

Let’s save this one of a kind urban forest and central city greenspace for future generations and all of the public to enjoy.