Glen Helen FAQs
You may have heard about the closure of the Glen Helen Nature Preserve due to COVID-19. Some of the information circulating is not entirely accurate, so here are some answers to some questions people have about the Glen. Thanks for visiting.
Q: Is the Glen Helen for sale?
A: No. The Glen Helen property is not “listed on the open market” for sale. The property is permanently protected and preserved as a natural area and may not be developed.
Q: Isn’t the Glen Helen a public park?
A: The Glen Helen is a privately held ecological preserve owned by Antioch College. Alumnus Hugh Taylor Birch gifted the Glen to Antioch College in 1929.
The College has stewarded, grown, and honored the gift, and over time has made Glen accessible to the public. In recent years, the Glen has become overwhelmingly popular, drawing visitors both from the local community and from great distances.
Q: What protections are in place to preserve Glen Helen?
A: While the gift of the Glen property specified preservation and use by Antioch College for research and recreation, there were few—if any—legal constraints on development of the property. Over the years there have been many threats to the Glen including a proposed state highway and a village sewage line project. In 1960, a group of friends formed the Glen Helen Association (GHA) to help build community support to help the College protect the property. For more than 50 years, the GHA has served as volunteers, advocates, and donors in support of the conservation and education work being done at the Glen.
Antioch College proved its full commitment to the Glen Helen when it completed a conservation easement in 2015 through the Tecumseh Land Trust which ensures that the Glen will be preserved in perpetuity against development.
Q: Why is the Glen closed?
A: The Glen was closed to public access due to public health concerns related to COVID-19. Another result of the pandemic has been a complete loss of program revenue which supports Glen staff members and upkeep.
Q: What is the future of the Glen Helen?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the finances of organizations and communities around the world. Our local community is not immune, and the College has been forced to take serious and decisive action to protect its educational mission.
For over a year now, Antioch has been quietly exploring with the board of the Glen Helen Association (GHA), a new structure under which to operate this treasured regional resource. The GHA is a separate nonprofit organization with which the College shares the common goal of supporting and protecting the Glen—and access to it—in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.
That exploration continues, although the COVID-19 epidemic has radically altered the financial landscape and heightened our sense of urgency. Antioch remains completely committed to finding a best path forward to preserve the ecological integrity of the Glen Helen and access to it for students and the broader community. Yet the College can no longer shoulder the vast burden of the programs and management of this quasi public park at the expense of its core educational mission.
Q: How is the Glen funded?
A: Unlike public parks, the Glen does not receive any state or local funding for operations. Glen Helen programs, upkeep, and personnel are funded by Antioch College, with additional donations from the Glen Helen Association.
Q: What about the Glen endowment fund?
A: Available funds from the endowment are directly applied to the Glen budget each year, but cover only a small part of the cost of operating the Glen.