Preserving Red Rock Bluffs in Hocking Hills

 

Project Cost: $316,144

40 acres

Our Share to Raise: $58,966 

 

A Beautiful 40-acre Hemlock Forest and a Connector to Red Rock Hollow, Queer Creek riparian corridor, Camp Oty’Okwa and Old Man’s Cave

Red Rock Bluffs is an undeveloped, entirely forested 40-acre tract of land located one mile east of Old Man’s Cave and 1.25 miles south of Conkle’s Hollow. Hocking State Forest surrounds the land on three of its four sides. The land is high in elevation and drains into an impressive number of steep, v-shaped ravines that descend rapidly to their confluence with Queer Creek. For such a small tract of land, it is remarkably situated to not only protect significantly beautiful land features on the property, but also to protect water quality of the four pristine streams that drain the property. Each ravine is bordered by beautiful sandstone rock features. And thanks to a recently awarded Clean Ohio grant our share of the project to raise is only $58,936!

Rich Intact Understory. Red Rock Bluffs has a number of intact ecosystems which collectively support a rich understory flora, which includes Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia), Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Wake-Robin (Trillium erectum), Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) Pulpit, Lily Leaved Twayblade Orchid (Liparis liliifolia), Downy Rattlesnake Orchid (Goodyera pubescens), Pink Lady Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium acaule), and high numbers of mushroom, fern and lichen species.

Diverse Forest Types. The four ravines at Red Rock Bluffs, as well as most of the hillsides on the northern half of the property are covered with nearly pure hemlock forests, bearing trees of respectable age and girth for the region and spanning ages of 40-100 years. The hemlock-hardwood forest is dominated by Eastern Hemlock and Black Birch, a forest type more common in the Appalachian Mountains to our east than in Ohio’s foothills.Also represented on the tract are hemlock-hardwood forests, oak-hickory mixed forests, and a young succession forest where the seller’s grandfather, Carl Venard, an entomologist at OSU, enjoyed a retreat in a handsome log cabin. Carl’s residence has since been relocated to Camp Oty’okwa and fully restored. Learn More about the property’s cultural history.

Notable Bird Species. A breeding bird study conducted at Red Rock Bluffs confirmed the presence of 33 species of birds. Considering this was just one single day of birding conducted at the very end of the vocalization period, the list is impressive! The notable finds in the bird inventory included hermit thrush and magnolia warbler and Black-Throated Green Warblers. Black-Throated Green Warblers are rare in Ohio and are essentially restricted to hemlock and mixed hemlock/hardwood forests. Their presence at Hocking Hills is extraordinary!

Also significant was the confirmed presence of four deep forest bird species, all of which are associated with large unbroken tracts of forest: the Black and White Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Ovenbird, and Worm-eating Warbler. Their presence demonstrates that this tract is not an isolated, impaired woodlands but a very healthy forest contiguous with the large state-protected forests and parks of the region.

Protecting over .5 miles of stream channels. Red Rock Bluffs drains into four deep and steep-walled ravines that rapidly descend to the valley floor below, all of the eventually reaching Queer Creek.  These narrow, sheltered ravines also serve as the core of the Red Rock Bluff tract’s high botanical biodiversity.

Over one half mile of entirely forested headwater stream-channels dissect Red Rock Bluffs, an extraordinary span of waterways for only 40 acres of land. Since the primary vulnerability of any watershed to soil erosion occurs at its headwaters, Red Rock Bluff’s steep headwater ravines provide substantial protection for Queer Creek and the main stem of Salt Creek. Learn More about Red Rock Bluff’s Natural History.

We can’t imagine a more pivotal “jigsaw puzzle piece” to preserve as part of the Hocking Hills’ conservation mosaic.

New Hiking Trail Planned at Red Rock Bluffs. If the Arc of Appalachia succeeds in purchasing this tract, our goal is to install a hiking trail at Red Rock Bluffs that will be used for guided hikes sponsored by the Arc for the general public and for the youths attending Camp Oty’Okwa as part of their outdoor curriculum.

Why has the Arc taken 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 23 years ago, the Arc has closed on over 100 new natural areas, saving over 6200 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

Also in Hocking Hills is a second campaign property – Fern Gully. Early this year, we took action to save 81 acres in Hocking Hills known as Fern Gully. The land is now safe and secure. Learn More about the Fern Gully Campaign.

The ravines of Red Rock Bluffs shelter trees of impressive girths.
Red Rock Bluffs shelters deep hemlock forests.
Lily Leaved Twayblade Orchids at Red Rock Bluffs.
Breathtaking rockscapes at Red Rock Bluffs.
The Red Rock Bluffs tract drains into Queer Creek, a creek large enough to have a functioning floodplain.