If you heard the word "super" on any given day, you would usually be correct in assuming the adjective denoted something as excellent, marvelous, outstanding, magnificent, or wonderful. The word carries a very positive connotation.
In this case, you would be wrong if you made that assumption.
Superfund is the name given to the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. Think, magnificently polluted.
If you read our last post you should already know that Cuyahoga Valley was established as a National Recreation Area in 1974. In 1985, the National Park Service acquired the Krejci dump, a site that they thought was an old junkyard. After someone collecting bottles in the area became sick and Park Rangers began complaining of headaches, rashes and odors, they shut the area down.
The Environmental Protection Agency evaluated the site and decided that it qualified as 'super' disgusting. They were able to clean the 47-acre site for the low cost of $50 million. In 2001, an attorney for the National Park Service noted that it was the most expensive cleanup in the National Park system's history.
In 1997, the U.S. Government sued Ford, General Motors, 3M, Chrysler and Chevron as responsible parties. Everyone settled outside of court, except for 3M who went to trial and lost. As of 2012, wild grasses were starting to repopulate the previously barren soil and they are hoping that the land will return to its former status.
The distinction of being a Superfund site is not something that you will see advertised at Cuyahoga Valley, but it is something that is important to know and understand. The places we are visiting are being preserved not simply for our enjoyment. They are being saved for the enjoyment of our grandchildren and their progeny. They are beautiful and wild and wonderful because people like Congressman Ralph Regulus and former Superintendent John Debo Jr. took the time to save them through legislative action.
If I had kids, I would not only make them write thank you letters to Santa Claus, I would make them write thank you notes to the champions of our parks. As I see it, fireflies and croaking frogs are cheap and crucial babysitters of my future children, babysitters that would keep them both curious and occupied and provide me with the time to sit back in my lawn chair and relax.