AOA HomeDustin Kraus
Sunday, May 16
Mercer Woods Wildflower and Orchid Hike
Walk through mature hardwood and hemlock forests and explore the wildflower covered slopes, immersing ourselves in the magnificence of the beautiful old growth forest habitat. Orchid expert Ken Mettler will lead this tour of the Mercer Woods Preserve that will focus on identifying native wildflowers and orchids of the Hocking Hills region.
Mercer Woods is the core portion of 4 properties and over 180 acres conserved by AOA in scenic Misty Valley. Located in the northern extent of the Hocking Hills, this area is part of AOA’s Hocking River Conservation Corridor initiative. The site includes characteristic Hocking Hills landscape features including sandstone outcrops, a small gorge and headwater streams and waterfalls in the several ravines. There are a wide variety of habitats and numerous wildflowers – some still in bloom. Mercer Woods is home to the largest trees and the most impressive old growth forest found on any of AOA’s many preserves. This is an outdoor event that will be conducted in conformance with applicable Covid-19 recommendations for social distancing.
Join us for upcoming Work Days at AOA’s Wildasinn Preserve on the Big Darby and Big Darby Oaks
Help us keep the invasive species at bay while enjoying a beautiful spring day in the woods, surrounded by a plethora of beautiful wildflowers and old growth forest.
We will be on site from 10 until 4 pm. each day. Please call AOA’s landline at (614) 721-2656 with any questions or for further information.
Note New Date – Wednesday, May 12 – Wildasinn on the Big Darby
Wildasinn on the Big Darby is located in Pickaway County just south of Orient. The Google Map address is 10180 Darby Creek Road, Orient, OH 43146 – follow link below. Go through the gate and park along the old roadway. Follow the road back and into the woods along the river where we will be working. Look for maps and follow directions into the woods.
Wednesday, May 19 – Big Darby Oaks
AOA’s Big Darby Oaks Preserve is located along the west side of Big Darby Creek on Plain City-Georgesville Road, west of the City of Hilliard. The Google Map address is 6205 NE Plain City-Georgesvile Road, Plain City, OH 43064 – follow link below. Enter the drive and go straight back to the AOA marked parking area on the north side of the driveway. Look for maps and follow directions into the woods.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Get outside with AOA and explore and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us!
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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