Acquisitions and management are helping to secure Ohio's forests.
In 2016 the Conservancy celebrated the addition of 1,000 acres of forestland to its Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, growing the Southern Ohio preserve to more than 19,000 acres.
The property represents the single largest land acquisition to its preserve system in the history of the Conservancy's work in Ohio. Situated on bluffs overlooking the Ohio River, the stunning property boasts steep hollows, oak hickory forest, high-quality streams, and breathtaking vistas.
Smoky Hollow, as the land has been dubbed, is a spectacular addition to the Conservancy's Edge of Appalachia Preserve System (Portman Trail pictured) - the state's largest privately owned protected natural area. With more than 100 rare plant and animal species, it's about as wild as Ohio gets, but it's threatened by a host of pressures, such as habitat fragmentation, unsustainable logging practices and invasive species.
In spring 2016, the Conservancy utilized controlled burning on 115 acres in order to restore balance to key areas in the preserve. A natural force on the landscape, fire has long been suppressed, altering the landscape we see today. Maple grow where there should be oak, for example, but maple trees don't produce as much food for wildlife.
In another part of the preserve, staff are battling back two types of trees that don't belong on the landscape. Invasive populations of tree-of-heaven and paulownia have established throughout the Conservancy's "Sunshine Corridor" project area. So far, 900 acres have been treated to remove the invasives.
Native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid survives by sucking sap from hemlock trees, causing needle loss and preventing new growth. It has devastated hemlock trees through the East and threatens stands of the tree at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve and throughout the state. The Conservancy and others have joined together as part of the Ohio Hemlock Conservation Partnership, which aims to prioritize and treat important stands as the adelgid moves through.
When the Ohio Department of Transportation planned construction of the Portsmouth bypass in Scioto county, it was determined that habitat for the federally threatened northern long-eared bat would be affected. In order to offset damages, funding was provided to the Conservancy to identify and protect bat habitat, resulting in the conservation of nearly 1,000 acres at the Edge of Appalachia between 2015-2016.
A new collaboration with Groundwork Cincinnati aims to raise environmental awareness and engage urban youth. The "Sister Creeks Collaboration" will help protect and restore Mill Creek in Cincinnati and Ohio Brush Creek, which flows through the Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County, through hands-on projects for Cincinnati middle and high school students.
The construction of three new trails through the preserve will provide another opportunity for people from different generations to forge connections with nature. One of the trails will become part of the statewide Buckeye Trail and North Country National Scenic Trail, creating an 11-mile footpath in the preserve - nearly connecting to nearby Shawnee State Forest.
In the meantime, the preserve's existing 10 miles of trail and the Ohio Brush Creek await hikers and paddlers alike. Inspired? Show your support and Pledge to the Edge today!