Stretching from the city of Akron downstream to the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, this IBA is dominated by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) for much of its extent. The CVNP is the largest permanent undeveloped area remaining along the 22 miles between Cleveland and Akron and provides recreational needs for an urban population of about four million people in the immediate vicinity. It preserves scenic, natural and historical settings of the Cuyahoga River Valley. Forest areas are characterized by isolated woodlands of varying sizes. A mixture of hemlocks and hardwood species is found on some steeper slopes. Glacial kames, terraces, and beaver-modified wetlands are found in the valley. It is located in the glaciated part of the Allegheny Plateau and encompasses a string of metroparks along the lower Cuyahoga floodplain plus a number of major tributaries. Two Cleveland Metroparks reservations and three metroparks of the Summit County park system are within the boundaries of the CVNP, but they are owned and managed by the respective metroparks.
This combination of upland forest, ravine, slope, succession, edge and wetland habitat provides for a large diversity of breeding bird species including populations of Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Wood Thrush, and Scarlet Tanager. It is also demonstrably an important spring and fall migratory stopover region for landbirds.
The formation of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and joint boundaries with Cleveland and Akron Metroparks have stopped suburban development. Stream erosion and sedimentation are a concern. As the park's philosophy is not to interfere with changes in nature, successional changes will occur with resultant loss of certain habitat types.
Habitat fragmentation is possible as recreational use expands. Non-native plants such as European alder, buckthorn, and narrow-leaved cattail constitute problems. Cowbirds are common in the area, posing a threat to neotropical migrant bird nesting success.
The Cleveland Metroparks in Cuyahoga County and parks serving Summit County park districts have historically preserved land. Two Cleveland Metroparks reservations and three parks of the Summit County park system are within the boundaries of the CVNP, owned and managed by the respective park systems.
Regions within this area have supported research into urban forest fragmentation and the effects on migration and nesting (L. Petit).