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Sunday, October 31
Fall Color Hike at Rohr Preserve
Sugar Grove, Fairfield County
Enjoy the fall colors and crisp cool weather in the Hocking Hills this Halloween weekend as we hike AOA’s beautiful Rohr Preserve. Purchased earlier this year, this will be our first visit to this unique property. Once home to one of the largest sandstone quarries in the region, the Sharp & Crook Stone Quarry cut deep into the high ridge, providing stone for many structures throughout central Ohio. Much of the site retains the high sandstone walls left behind like ghosts when the quarry closed early in the 20th century. A mature forest has since reclaimed the quarry site which now masquerades as a seemingly natural Hocking Hills sandstone outcrop landscape.
The Rohr Preserve abuts the Hocking River and includes a section of the old Hocking Canal which was used to ship the sandstone blocks. The quarry and associated canal property is a unique piece of the Hocking valley’s cultural and economic heritage.
With any luck the bright red and yellow trees should be near peak color this weekend, contrasting with the darker rock outcrops and old quarry features.
Sunday, October 31
Hocking Canal Lock 8 Open House and Clean Up
North of Sugar Grove, Fairfield County
Enjoy a beautiful autumn day outdoors – visit the spectacular Lock No. 8 on the old Hocking Canal route. Located in the Hocking River Valley north of Sugar Grove, this lock preserves the cultural and economic heritage of the region. The lock and canal are part of AOA’s Hocking River Conservation Corridor which preserves key natural and historical sites for the local community.
Constructed nearly 200 years ago, the lock and adjacent old canal prism is in good condition but in need of some TLC. Used as a trash dump for many years there is still much junk to be removed from the lock bottom. Tree cutting and pruning is also required to preserve the integrity of the lock and the canal into the future.
Feel free to visit and view the lock or join in to help us clean and care for this impressive structure.
A Beautiful Day on the River
Big Darby Creek Float
Thirty-five (35) friends and supporters were fortunate to be able to enjoy a float trip on a picturesque section of upper Big Darby Creek. Our flotil- la of 17 watercraft successfully navigated the many twists and turns of Central Ohio’s spectacular Wild and Scenic River.
We stopped at AOA’s Big Darby Oaks preserve, viewing the new beaver lodge and blooming swamp milkweed, while learning about the value of natural riparian corridors and the characteristics of a healthy river system. The many scenic and natural wonders we encountered inspired a sense of wonder and awe at the natural beauty of our local natural habitats – illustrating the importance of AOA’s riparian corridor and water quality protection activities along Darby Creek and other watersheds in our region.
We are grateful to Bob Gable and Heather Doherty of ODNR’s Scenic Rivers Program for leading this fun adventure and sharing their knowledge of the Big Darby and Ohio’s river habitats.
AOA Plants 12,000 Trees Along Big Darby Creek
Restores Bottomland Forest Habitat at Igel Preserve
AOA planted 12,000 trees last week as part of our riparian corridor restoration activities along the Big Darby. The 34-acre floodplain field portion of our 100-acre Igel preserve was planted with a diverse mix of floodplain species to help restore the site to its original bottomland forest habitat. The field was previously planted in native prairie species as part of the restoration succession plan.
Bottomland forests provide many benefits including: storing floodwater, reducing downstream flooding; improving water quality by filtering nutrients and wastes and reducing sediment and erosion; providing important habitat for waterfowl, songbirds, turkey, bats, and numerous other wildlife; and providing critical migratory corridors for many species of birds and wildlife.
The Igel Preserve retains a mature bottomland forest habit along the river which has a diverse mix of trees and wildflowers – see photo of large (over 1-acre), dense patch of Michigan Lilies and Star-flowered Solomon’s Seal) along the river. The new trees will help expand this forest to the entire floodplain portion of the property.
This project is part of AOA’s water quality initiative along the Big Darby, as well as our efforts to conserve and restore habitat in a known bat corridor that includes several rare species including Indiana Bats. The conservation and planting activities are a collaborative effort of AOA with several partner organizations including The Conservation Fund and OEPA DEFA (Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance).
AOA Preserves Upper Big Darby Creek Property
A beaver lodge appears at the edge of the stream. Majestic sycamores shade the riparian corridor cooling the water for the resident smallmouth bass and mollusks. Stately oaks several hundred years old join the hickory trees on the ridge in providing habitat for the great horned owls and bald eagles often seen here. A snapping turtle slides off a log into the green waters of the creek as a heron takes off from its perch, as kayakers drift by marveling at the quiet beauty so close to the expanding Columbus metropolis.
This property was once home to some of this country’s easternmost tallgrass prairie. An oak savanna consisting of scattered oaks soaring above wildflowers and prairie grass. What stories these 300 year old oaks could tell if they could talk. Perhaps they would explain that prairie wildflowers blanketed the ground all summer, and Native Americans often would use controlled fire to help hunt bison and assist plant management. Or that the first white settler in this area, Jonathan Alder – kidnapped by the Shawnees from Virginia – likely frequented this riverbank as he lived in a cabin not far downstream.
Like in the pioneer times when Jonathan Alder wandered these woods, these are times of change. The native hunters are long gone. The challenges of today are much different, but no less urgent. Pressing urbanization is endangering the protection of a stream that is blessed with tremendous aquatic biodiversity- over 100 species of fish and 40 species of freshwater mollusk. In many ways the Darby is a window back in time to the years before European settlement, yet development remains a serious threat. In 2019, the conservation group “American Rivers” named the Darby one of America’s most threatened rivers.
This Big Darby Oaks property has been forever protected through a recent acquisition by AOA with funding from OEPA. This site includes high bluff along the river with bottomland riparian habitat and fields that are being converted to native prairie. A patch of old forest has been cut but never cleared for farming like most of land in this area.
With your help, more can be done to protect one of our country’s Wild and Scenic Rivers, Big Darby Creek, and the flora and fauna that call it home. Click the link below to make your tax-deductible contribution so AOA can continue its important work in the Big Darby Conservation Corridor.
AOA Adds Key Property to Scioto River Flyway Corridor
Protection and restoration of the Fleming Bend property continues AOA’s ongoing and successful efforts to protect and restore the Lower Scioto River and its tributaries as part of our Scioto River Flyway Corridor Initiative. This 309-acre property which protects 13,880 linear feet of riparian floodplain is an important addition to the corridor. Located in central Pickaway County, immediately west of downtown Circleville, the Fleming Bend site lies on a large bend in the Scioto River. It includes a 50-acre island surrounded by river channel.
The Fleming Bend addition project is being undertaken with Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program monies designated for protection and restoration of high-quality steams and wetlands in Ohio. This project is administered by the Ohio Department of Environmental Protection (OEPA) which recently completed an environmental assessment process for the project. A complete copy of the environmental documents may be found here. The City of Columbus’ Lower Olentangy Tunnel WPCLF loan project is the municipal sponsor for this property.
AOA Moves Forward with Big Darby Creek Conservation
Over 285 Acres to be Added
AOA is working to add new properties to AOA’s Big Darby Creek Conservation Corridor in Pickaway County. Big Darby Creek is a National and State designated Scenic River that is recognized as “one of the most biologically diverse aquatic systems in the Midwest”. It is home to 38 known state and federally listed species, including numerous freshwater mussels and fish.
These properties will be conserved with funding from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, which seeks to protect and restore high-quality streams and wetlands in Ohio. This program is administered by the Ohio Department of Environmental Protection which recently completed a limited environmental assessment process for the Big Darby Creek Conservation Corridor Additions project. A complete copy of the environmental documents may be found here. AOA’s new Big Darby conservation properties are being sponsored by the City of Columbus’ Lower Olentangy Tunnel WPCLF loan project.
2019 Year in Review
Thanks to your support 2019 was another very successful year for land and water conservation. AOA celebrated the conservation of 16 new properties totaling over 1,400 acres. These included 665 acres in the Paint Creek corridor, 200 acres along Big Darby Creek and over 260 acres in the Hocking Hills, key AOA initiative focuses.
Check out our most recent activities and accomplishments in our most recent Year in Review. If you would like to receive a hard copy via mail, please contact AOA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appalachia Ohio Alliance is dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of our land and water as sustainable natural resources that are an asset and a legacy for our community
Appalachia Ohio Alliance is a regional non-profit conservancy dedicated to the conservation of land and water resources in central and southeastern Ohio. Find out how you can help our efforts.
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When we consider what it took to create this landscape, we must also consider what we can do to insure that future generations will also be able to marvel at its beauty.
The scenic views, diversity of plants and wildlife, and quiet times in the country will all be enhanced by the security of knowing that things can stay this way into the future.
In the end, I decided to sell my property to AOA because I love it so much. It was hard to part with it – but I am not really parting with it – it is there forever thanks to AOA.
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