Volunteer Day – Plum Run Prairie Invasive Workday

Join us!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

From 10 am to mid-afternoon. Meet at Plum Run Preserve (directions below)

Free Lodging available at the Arc’s Volunteer Headquarters. Please inquire when you register.


Our Workday.

Plum Run Prairie is an exceptional prairie worth saving.  It is one of the larger prairies remaining in the state, and one of the few such large tracts found in southern Ohio. This site has been officially listed with the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves as one of the top 40 sites worthy of protection in all of Ohio. At 140 acres, with at least forty acres pristine, and the remaining acres in the farm coming back into prairie even without intentional management, this site has the potential to be among the largest tall grass prairies in Ohio.

Our goal is to maintain these prairie lands as natural habitat for the plethora of species that thrive here.  Dotting the open fields are numerous Allegheny Mound Ant colonies, a signature species of the prairie. One of the prairie’s many rare butterfly species is the Edwards’ Hairstreak, which feeds on young scrubby oaks. Completely dependent on these ants, the nearly helpless caterpillars are guided up the trees by the ants to graze during the day, and escorted back to the colony beneath the ground at night to protect them from predators. Without having prairie habitat to provide secure homes for the mound building ant, the rare Edwards’ Hairstreak could possibly perish from the earth.  Our job will be to remove the invasive plants, such as autumn olive, before they become too established and dominate the area.    

Leader: Fern Truitt

Fern Truitt is Land Manager for the Arc of Appalachia. She works daily with invasive plants, landscape care and ecosystem stewardship. Fern grew up learning many primitive skills, though she wouldn’t have necessarily called them that at the time. She loves doing things such as cooking over a fire, collecting wild edibles, and making tools and utensils from what other people see as just ordinary sticks. To her these skills were simply a way of life, providing practical outcomes that were cheap, fruitful, and environmentally responsible, as well as providing an outlet for creativity. Fern is a legend around the Arc staff and many of our volunteers. A woman of few words, she speaks volumes about her conservation ethics in her actions. Fern cans and stores much of her own food from her Fort Hill home garden, is a great cook, and provides most of her protein from sustainable hunting.  Learn by watching, and you won’t find a better naturalist, outdoors woman, or teacher in the woods than Fern Truitt.

Plum Run Prairie’s Natural History

Vanishing Tall-grass Prairies. Tall-grass Prairies are remnant communities from drier geologic periods when the mid-western prairies fingered eastward as far as Ohio. They retreated westward when more moisture-laden times returned — leaving grassland islands behind. When people of European descent settled Ohio in the early 1800’s, tall- grass prairies were found primarily in west-central Ohio. It is extremely rare to find a tall-grass prairie in southern Ohio, and Plum Run Prairie may be the largest to exist in Ohio’s Appalachian counties, indeed even one of the largest left in the entire state.

Preserving Ohio prairies is extremely important. The genetic dance in the Eastern continent between the native prairie and the native hardwood forest is an ancient climate-driven duet that cannot continue unless the species of both dance partners are guaranteed a place of refuge. Because tall-grass prairies build up rich soils, agricultural pressures have permanently destroyed nearly all of the original prairie lands, making North America’s tall-grass prairies the most imperiled of our country’s primary ecosystems — much more so than even our native forests. Once a prairie soil is disturbed with a plow, it rarely comes back on its own. Both tall-grass and short-grass prairies, the latter even rarer in the East, are extremely diverse in plant and animal species — with numbers rivaling that of the deciduous forest. To save Ohio’s rainbow of biodiversity, there is no act more productive than to save a prairie.

Physical Requirements

No invasive removal experience is necessary for this work day, and the tasks do not take a lot of physical endurance nor strength. Garlic mustard plucking in the spring requires only light bending at the waist, since the garlic mustard grows almost to hip height and pulls out of the ground easily. Sawing or cutting  invasive woody shrubs and canes at their bases does require squatting close to the ground, so workers on this task need flexibility and good joints. We will be applying herbicide in small quantities to the cut stems of the woody invasives, Volunteers will be trained in safe application.

What to Bring

Bring a bottle of drinking water, and, if you are coming to remove woody plants and do not have prescription glasses, bring a pair of sunglasses for eye protection. We also recommend wearing footwear with a good tread, and a brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face. In the fall, our meadows are filled with various “stick-tight” seeds, so be sure not to wear fleece or other fuzzy fabrics. The smoother the fabric the better. If you have your own clippers, garden gloves with rubber coated protection, and light handsaws, bring them along. If you don’t, we can share our tools with you. Poison ivy will not be a major problem in the fall or early spring since the leaves are not out  However, if you are extra sensitive to this allergen, it’s best to stay out of the meadows any time of the year, and we recommend that you choose projects that work primarily in the forest and stay out of the meadows. Bugs should not be a problem.


Please contact Kayla Hanning with any questions at services@arcofappalachia.org or 937-365-1935.


Plum Run Preserve, 714 Mendenhall Road, Peebles, OH 45660

Off of Route 32, south on Mendenhall Road, just east of Peebles, OH 45660.

Directions from Columbus to Plum Run
Plum Run Preserve is approximately 90 miles from outer-belt 270. To Begin: Get on the 270 outer-belt around Columbus and head south. Exit on SR 23 and head south through Circleville. Use the right 2 lanes to take the US 23 S exit toward Waverly/US 50 W/Portsmouth. Continue on US-23 South for approximately 20 miles. Outside of Piketon, use the right lane to take OH-32/OH-124 ramp to Jackson/Cincinnati. Turn right onto OH-32 W/OH-124 W. Stay on OH-32 W for approximately 33 miles. Turn left onto Mendenhall Road. 

Directions from Cincinnati to Plum Run
Plum Run Preserve is approximately 60 miles from outer-belt 275. To Begin: Get on the 275 outer-belt around Cincinnati and go to to the Newtown area (southeast corner of 27. If 275 were a clock the exit would be at 5:00). Exit on Route 32, the Appalachian Highway. Follow 32 east approximately 51 miles. Turn right onto Mendenhall Road.

above is the rare Edwards’ Hairstreak butterfly

Dotting the open fields are numerous Allegheny Mound Ant colonies, a signature species of the prairie.

Plum Run Prairie is one of only three remaining sites where you can find the Plantago cordata, or heart-leaved plantain, an extremely endangered plant.

Some tools uses for invasives removal and control