By ANTHONY SUSZCZYNSKI
Poland has a lot of interesting history and a huge part of it is the Poland Woods. The Woods, covering about 265 acres, was the first Municipal Forest in Ohio. Nearly a century ago, the forest was donated to Poland Village.
In 1916 a small portion of roughly 50 acres was donated by a developer named Judge Rose, but Grace Butler donated most of the acreage for the forest in 1935, in memory of her husband. The requirements for her land donation were established in the Butler deed.
She required that the land must be used for park purposes only and it should be kept in its natural state. Since the forest floods, neither Butler nor Rose could develop or sell the land, which is the main reason the forest exists today. Today, the Forest Board continues to uphold the Butler deed.
The Poland Municipal Forest board is made up of six members, led by their chairman Bob Zedaker. The Board makes recommendations to Poland Village Council, which makes any major decisions regarding finances and maintenance for the Woods. Currently the Municipal Board is looking into the ecology of the woods.
“There are some flowering plants that are endangered in Ohio and Pennsylvania that we’ve had in the past that we’re looking into trying to rejuvenate in the woods,” said forest board member Beth Queen. “Part of the problem with losing those plants is the overpopulation of deer. So the board is bringing in a speaker in November from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to give a talk about the ecology of the Poland Woods.”
While some plants in the forest are endangered, others continue to thrive, most popularly the bluebells. The plethora of Virginia Bluebells that blooms each spring is one of the largest. Amid the bluebells, numerous large trees continue to grow. Sycamore, maple, oak and evergreen are just a few of the many, some more than 350-years-old.
The Poland Woods offers an ideal blend of nature and tranquility, making it a great place to escape from the stresses of everyday life. Thanks to Grace Butler and her deed, the woods will continue to be enjoyed by many generations to come.