YELLOW SPRINGS — Antioch College has agreed to transfer ownership of Glen Helen, as talks about the future of the nature preserve reach an “agreement in principle.”
The Glen Helen Association, which operates the park in tandem with the college, will assume full stewardship of the 1,000 acre preserve, and develop a plan for reopening the preserve to the public. The two organizations issued a joint press release Wednesday, announcing that these changes would be positive for the college, the Glen, and the people who come to enjoy the park’s natural wonders.
“The transfer of the Glen to community hands makes perfect sense for the College, for the GHA, and for the community at-large,” Antioch President Tom Manley said in the official statement. “This new agreement will make possible a strong working partnership between the College and the GHA, each with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.”
The Glen Helen Association (GHA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and defending its namesake nature preserve. Founded in 1960, the purpose of the GHA was to bolster Antioch College’s defense against development projects that would have destroyed the Glen, including a proposal to run a city sewer line through the Glen in 1959. Their efforts paid off in 2015 when the college obtained conservation easements against any further development of the land, ensuring Glen Helen would be available to students, researchers, and community members for years to come.
In the official statement GHA president Bethany Gray stated, “The people of the Miami Valley have really come to feel that the Glen belongs to the community, and now, with support from the community, this will become a reality.”
The exact details of the agreement were reached after almost a year of talks between the two organizations. As part of the agreement with the college, the GHA will pay Antioch $2.5 million over the course of ten years, “as partial reimbursement for decades of investment in the Glen.”
Glen Helen was gifted to the college by alumnus Hugh Taylor Birch in 1929 as a memorial to his daughter Helen Birch Bartlett. It has become overwhelmingly popular over the decades, now drawing more than 100,000 annual visitors.