Glen Helen now owned by Glen Helen Association; to reopen Sept. 9
- Published: September 4, 2020
It’s official. Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs is now owned by the Glen Helen Association, or GHA, a nonprofit organization.
A finalized sale agreement between the Glen’s longtime owner, Antioch College, and the GHA was announced on Sept. 4 by both organizations. Under that agreement, the GHA will pay Antioch College $2.5 million over 10 years for the Glen, beginning with an initial payment of $500,000.
A Sept. 4 press release from the GHA expressed jubilation over the nonprofit’s new role.
“As of today, the Glen Helen Association is the proud owner, steward and operator of the region’s largest and most visited private nature preserve, Glen Helen,” the release states.
The GHA is moving swiftly to reopen Glen Helen trails, which have been closed to the public since March. Trails, parking and the Raptor Center will reopen initially for partial days to ensure that COVID-related safety measures are working, according to the press release.
From Wednesday, Sept. 9, through Friday, Sept. 11, Glen Helen will be open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dawn to dusk hours will resume on Saturday, Sept. 12.
New safety measures include one-way trails and new signage in the North Glen, the part of the Glen that sees the heaviest use. Those visiting the Glen are asked to wear masks in the parking lot and whenever they can’t stay more than six feet from other visitors.
Glen buildings, including public restrooms, remain closed.
Glen Helen Executive Director Nick Boutis expressed excitement and optimism over the 1,000-acre preserve’s new phase. He also underscored the role of the public in helping the Glen reopen and rebuild.
“This is an extraordinarily exciting time for the Glen,” he said by phone on Friday. “We’ll be leaning on visitors and the community to help us ensure that we’re here for the future — that the Glen is able to be the gem we know it to be.”
The GHA announced in June the launch of a $3.5 million capital campaign that Boutis said on Friday was geared to raising funds toward the Glen’s purchase price, attending to urgent needs in the preserve and helping the Glen restart public and school programs that have been shuttered since March.
More than 10%, or $350,000, of the $3.5 million goal has been raised so far, Boutis said.
Part of those funds have come through a separate fundraising effort called “Save the Glen,” initiated this spring by an anonymous supporter. Money donated to Save the Glen is being used toward the Glen’s purchase and for its future operation, according to fund information.
Boutis predicted that outdoor public programs such as full moon hikes could reopen “before long,” while other programming would require a slower build. The GHA hopes to roll out plans for next summer’s Ecocamps this fall, and is eyeing the spring for a restart of environmental learning programs geared to school-aged children.
“Some of this will depend on the success of the capital campaign,” Boutis noted.
In a separate press release from Sept. 4, Antioch College President Tom Manley hailed the outcome as a “win for the Glen, the college and the community.”
The college and the GHA had been in discussion and negotiation regarding the future of Glen Helen for over a year, according to the release. This week’s agreement finalizes an “agreement in principle” between the two organizations announced on June 11.
Antioch College had owned and stewarded the Glen since 1929, when alumnus Hugh Taylor Birch gifted the land to the college for use as a preserve. With other local partners, Antioch undertook a decade-long effort to strengthen legal safeguards for the Glen, culminating in its permanent protection in 2015. More recently, amid financial challenges intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, Antioch administrators sought to secure new ownership for the Glen through the GHA.
“The transfer of the Glen from the college to community hands makes perfect sense, and is a victory for us all. This agreement will serve Yellow Springs, the greater Miami Valley and the college well for generations to come,” Antioch College Board of Trustees Chair Maureen Lynch is quoted as saying.
The two organizations will continue to collaborate, the press release notes.
A more in-depth story will appear in the Sept. 10 print edition of the News.
Links to previous reporting: