Project Cost: $932,772
Our Share to Raise: $99,943
Outstanding Vertical Walled Gorge. Lewis Gorge is a 233-acre parcel containing a spectacular one half mile long vertical-sided gorge flowing into an exceptionally scenic tributary of Paint Creek known as Cliff Run. Lewis Gorge is located just north and east of Paint Creek Dam off of Rapid Forge Road, just north of the historic Sanctuary lands that center around Cave Road and the Rocky Fork Gorge. It is our dream and intention to incorporate Lewis Gorge into the embrace of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.
Expanding Across US 50. The Arc of Appalachia is currently fundraising for the acquisition and stewardship of Lewis Gorge. This is only the second time in over twenty years that the Sanctuary has purchased lands north of US 50. and the first property procured containing a significant tributary of Paint Creek other than the Rocky Fork Gorge, thereby achieving one of the Arc’s long-held goals to expand and connect traditional Sanctuary lands with Paint Creek. The first purchase, by the way, was of TES Farm across from Kamelands.
Clean OH Grant and Price Reduction by Lewis Family. Thanks to an already awarded grant from Clean Ohio and a generous bargain sale offer from the Lewis Family, our share of this project to raise is only $157,529 for this stunning property.
Wildflower Paradise. Lewis Gorge has been in the private hands of the Lewis family for generations. The floral showcases in Lewis Gorge are dazzling, with many species of flowers hanging from the 40-50 foot cliffs that border a limestone-bottom creek. Learn more about the natural history of Lewis Gorge. For the past two years the Lewis Family has permitted the Arc to lead guided hikes on their property for the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage, establishing the gorge a treasured destination already for many Sanctuary visitors, people who also served to press us to pursue the gorge’s permanent preservation.
Protecting the Watershed. A large portion of the gorge’s upper watershed is included in this purchase, enabling the water quality of the gorge waters to stay pristine forever. Two thirds of the Lewis tracts is covered oak hickory forest and 1/3 is composed of rolling farm pastures and active arm fields. The pasturelands have not been active for years and are already well-canopied with succession hardwoods. The agricultural fields will be planted in native prairie grasses and forbs.
Room to Grow. Notably, contiguous and near to the property are several 400-acre forested tracts – unusually large tracts for this region – that provide large blocks of unbroken lands. Continued preserve growth in this botanically significant and incredibly scenic region holds much promise.