The Preserve’s Natural Treasures
The preserve is a natural jewel with its pristine waters, large colonies of golden star lilies, and immense towering trees of sweetgum, white oak,and black birch. Because of the rich water resources of the lower Rocky Fork watershed and the shelter from the steep hills that rise above the floodplain, floral species are rich on the lower hillside elevations of the preserve. High numbers of Two-lined salamanders have also been found along the clear waters of the lower Rocky Fork and its adjacent tributaries.
Unusually High Diversity of Mature Trees
The tract had an unusually high diversity of mature trees, including Big-tooth Aspen, White and Black Oaks, immense Yellow Buckeyes, Hickories, Black Birch, River Birch, Sourwood, and some of the largest and healthiest specimens of the rare Butternut (White Walnut) that we had ever seen. Especially attactive to us were the massive sweetgums lining the Rocky Fork.
A Multitude of Wildflowers
Because of the rich water resources of the lower Rocky Fork watershed and the shelter from the steep hills that rise above the floodplain, floral species are rich on the lower hillside elevations of the preserve. Spring species include showy representatives, both common and uncommon species, such as celandine wood poppy, yellow mandarin, Guyandotte beauty, pink lady slipper, sweet William, starry chickweed, sweet white violet, Canada violet, long-spurred violet, large-flowered trillium, bluets, wood betony, bluebells, common blue violet, tri-lobed violet, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, dwarf larkspur, Jacob’s ladder, false and true Solomon’s seal, showy orchis, spring beauty, foam flower, rue anemone, and dwarf crested iris.
Scioto Brush Creek – a State Treasure
The waters of the Rocky Fork run crystal clear through the preserve, sparkling over a sandstone cobble base that is loaded with the larvae and adults of Two-lined Salamanders. The 54 mile long Scioto Brush Creek watershed is one of the cleanest of our state’s waterways, draining both Adams County and Scioto County before it joins the great Scioto. A stunning 81% of the watershed’s land base is forested, and the creek is rated by the Ohio EPA as an outstanding warmwater habitat.
Scioto Brush is currently home to 73 species of fish, four of them hybrids. Only two species have been extirpated from the watershed in modern times, and it is one of the few remaining creeks in Ohio to have a native breeding population of muskellunge. The watershed (land and water) is home to over 30 rare and state-endangered species, over one-third of which live in or along the creek. Endangered aquatic species in the Scioto Brush Creek include: Popeye Shiner, Bigeye Shiner, Shortnose Gar, and the Rayed Bean, Villosa fabalis, a very rare mussel that requires clean water, and gravel and sand substrates.
Scioto Brush Creek provides the only habitat in Ohio for the federally threatened Virginia Spiraea, Spiraea virginiana. This rare plant is dependant on the scouring action associated with gravel and sand bars along the creek banks. Not far from the Golden Star Lily Preserve is the Scioto Brush Creek Sate Nature Preserve, which protects a mile of creek corridor, and a number of rare plants, including Virginia spiraea, Southern Monkshood, and Appalachian Quillwort.