Saving Fern Gully in Hocking Hills

 Many more gifts are needed!


An 80-acre tributary of Clear Creek, surrounded on three sides by Clear Creek Metro Park

Campaign Total: $400,000
Amount Raised to date: $203,220

Our May 31st Pledge goal has been met! We now have enough gifts and loans to purchase Fern Gully by our closing deadline of June 20. However, it is still our deepest desire to buy the property without the need for loans. 



Location, Location, Location. Fern Gully is a tributary of Clear Creek. Located in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio, it touches the 5300 acre Clear Creek Metro Park  – Ohio’s largest dedicated state nature preserve and Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks’ second largest park — all in one contiguous block of land. To the south of Fern Gully is the 2000-acre Hocking Hills State Park, including Old Man’s Cave, Conkles Hollow, and Ash Cave. Cantwell Cliffs is less than five miles away.

Ferns and Hemlocks!! Fern Gully’s beautiful hemlock-shrouded ravine is filled with unfurling ferns, both on valley floor and crowning its rocks. There are several species of native orchids and an astonishing 43 species of fern and fern allies in the Clear Creek watershed, hence the site’s well-deserved name. The sheltered valleys of Fern Gully also shelter showy wildflowers and majestic rock formations. With hemlocks dying from hemlock wooly adelgids across the Eastern United States, hemlock ravines are becoming a rare and imperiled ecosystem. Treatments have shown some promise of saving our hemlocks and we aim to save what we can of Fern Gully’s.

We’ve chosen as our artistic symbol for Fern Gully the Japanese kanji for Tsuga, the genus of the world’s hemlock species, including our sister species that is beloved by the people of Japan and Eastern Asia.


Significant bird life. The cool hemlock ravines of Fern Gully harbor over 100 species of breeding birds. These include Ohio rarities such as blue-headed vireo, blue-grey gnatcatcher, brown creeper, hermit thrush, magnolia warbler and occasionally even the Canada warbler. One of the twenty species of warblers that breeds in this region is the Louisiana waterthrush, an indicator of high water quality. Saving Fern Gully would result in the protection of over 90% of this crystal clear tributary’s watershed.

Created by benevolence, expanded by benevolence. A significant number of acres in Clear Creek Metro Park came from two benefactors. Allen F. Beck and Emily Benua families had been separately acquiring and preserving large holdings in the valley for decades. Their donations and bargain sales to Columbus Metro Parks was in a large part responsible for the immense park that we enjoy today. Let us hope that today a larger number of private citizens will echo these families’ generosity and vision.

Vacant land!! It is rare to see a piece of land come up for sale adjacent to one of the many parks in the Hocking Hills region. It is even rarer to see one come for sale without any development on it. If our partnering organization, Forest Conservancy, LLC, had not learned of the listing before it went public and secured it into firm contract, the land would have been snapped up by an investor or developer in just hours.

Why is this a citizen funded effort? Because of the high demand for this property, there is no reason for the owner to wait to sell to any party. Grant funding would have been way too slow and uncertain of a process. Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks  is currently short on acquisition funds due to its recent commitment to park expansion in the heart of Franklin County. If Fern Gully is to be saved, citizen effort is its only hope.

What will be the disposition of the property? Our plan is to secure Fern Gully with strong irreversible conservation restrictions and be managed by Clear Creek Metro Park.

Why did the Arc take this on? The Arc of Appalachia has a reputation for being an unusually agile and speedy land preservation force, responding creatively when preservation emergencies arise. Since its inception 22 years ago, the Arc has closed on over 100 new natural areas, saving over 5600 acres in 18 preserve regions. Its list of “saves” include such dramatic stories as buying Junction Earthworks off the auction block, and saving the Rocky Fork Gorge within the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. Click here for a map of Arc preserves

Tax Deductible. The Arc of Appalachia is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

For more information. You may contact us by phone at 937-365-1935 or email at for more information or to make your donation. THANK YOU!

Meet our partners. We encourage you to explore the website of our conservation partner, Forest Conservancy, LLC. Also, if you haven’t yet explored Clear Creek Metro Park, we hope you’ll make a trip soon.

Click to Enlarge

Beautiful hemlocks and rock formations at Fern Gully.
Showy orchis at Fern Gully. Photo by Andrea Jaeger.
Louisiana Waterthrush feeding young. Photo by John Watts.
Tall hemlock stands at Fern Gully.