SAVING Ash Cave Eastern Reserve

 

An emergency campaign to buy and save 108 acres

in Hocking Hills – immediately adjacent to Ash Cave

 

Sale Price $435,000;  Closing Date: September 1, 2020;  Acres: 108

Raised as of 8/30/2020 AM: $435,000 Balance Remaining: 0

# of Donors to Date: 571  HOORAY EVERYONE! WE DID IT!
                                            This campaign is complete!

 

The Quest. Preservation opportunities this good don’t come along very often, so when we heard this property was up for sale for a very reasonable price, we asked ourselves, “Wonder what’s wrong with it?” After we visited the property, we had to honestly answer, “Absolutely nothing.” The property is superb, with an unusually mature forest, deep hemlock-shrouded valleys, and stunning rock formations. We are now in solid contract with the seller; fully committed to protecting this property in perpetuity as part of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System. 

A Superlative Forest. Over our decades of saving wildlands, hardly ever do we see mature timber for sale on the open market. In nearly every listing, marketable timber is sold before the “for sale sign appears on the roadside. The reason is simple. It is almost always more lucrative to bring in money from the sale of both the trees and the land, made possible by the fact that most land buyers are not particularly discerning about forest health and value.

And so it is remarkable that the quality of the timber on this land is so extraordinary. There are no signs of tree stumps on the property, and our best guess is that the last harvest took place at least 80 years ago. Today nearly all the major trees boast impressive girths. With the high density of marketable trees, if these trees were to be harvested today it would be a devastating cut, severely opening up the canopy to sunlight, the soils to the eroding forces of rainfall, and the understory to the colonization of invasive plants, which, at the moment, fortuitously, are nearly non-existent. Standing in this forest today, in every direction you turn your head you see pillar after pillar of strong, healthy, rapidly growing, 18-22 inch oaks and hickories. The timber value of this forest is staggering.

So, why was this forest spared this far? The answer is a rare combination of fate and fortune. The current land owner is a respectable operator of a logging business who purchased the land several years ago with the intention to harvest the trees. His business plan was slowed down by the fact that the only road access into the property lies along OH-56, bordered by East Queer Creek. In turn, East Queer Creek is bordered by a 40-50 foot palisade of rocks mounded at the base of a very steep hill. There was simply no good way to get into the property with vehicles. His planned remedy was to build a very expensive but substantial bridge to scale the waterway and rocks, large enough to hold the weight of a fully loaded semi-truck. Recently, a permit to proceed was received to commence the bridge-building project, but, nearly at the same time, the owner heard the news that his family farm was up for sale. If he could sell this 108-acre investment, the income produced could be used to buy his homelands. And so, up went the for sale sign, and thus the door swung open for the possibility of a conservation buyer. 

Impressive Rock Formations. In addition to an extraordinary forest, the property is dissected by impressively steep, hemlock-shrouded deep ravines. The cliffs bordering Queer Creek are very comely, as these illustrations show, including cliffs and rock shelters, one of them quite large.

But most exciting of all is the location. The entire west boundary of the property is shared with that of Ash Cave State Park. A person could hike from Ash Cave Eastern Reserve, all the way to Ash Cave, without ever stepping foot on private land. Ash Cave Eastern Reserve represents a major expansion to protected lands bordering in the Hocking Hills region, which is a significant statement, considering that Hocking Hills State Park attracts over 4 million people a year and has the most beautiful geologic formations in all of Ohio, arguably even beyond our borders.

Can I write a check? Yes, you can send a check. Make it out to the Arc of Appalachia. Our mailing address is: Arc of Appalachia, 7660 Cave Road, Bainbridge, OH 45612. Include a note as to the gift’s purpose along with your full contact information, or better yet, download this convenient donation form

Can I see this property sometime? Yes. Our plan is to design a trail system that will be used for naturalist-led hikes and special events. Our vision is to establish what we hope will be a new annual event for the people of Ohio –  a fall hike leading from the Ash Cave Eastern Reserve to Ash Cave, and back. Meanwhile, the property is fully visible from the road. You are welcome to take a drive-by.

As a Donor, can I count on this sale? Yes. The reason we are accepting donations instead of pledges is that, in order to secure this contract in the highly competitive market of Hocking Hills, the Arc had no choice but to accept the high financial risk of signing the contract without financing contingencies. We are counting on the fact that our donors will find this project as exciting as we do. There are aonly 19 days between going public with this announcement and our closing date. If we fail to raise the necessary monies in time, we will have no choice but to scrape, borrow, and hit our savings. If that happens, we will have a sister nonprofit hold the land until we have 100% of the monies raised. Extending the campaign would be a blow to our organization’s finances and to the fate of other sought-after and critical land endeavors, but in no case will we abandon this project. Your donation is therefore secure, and all donors will be notified of the outcome. Please know that we only fund-raise once a year at year-end, except in a rare emergency, such as this campaign. Emergencies are typically only one out of every 25 of our acquisitions.

If you are new to the Arc of Appalachia… The Arc of Appalachia has been buying, saving, and stewarding native landscapes for a quarter of a century. We work in the Appalachian counties of Ohio, where population density is relatively low and donor dollars stretch the farthest to preserve Ohio’s splendid biodiversity. The Arc has closed on 120 properties during our existence, adding nearly 7000  acres of natural areas to Ohio. Click here for our most recently completed land acquisitions. The Arc of Appalachia provides nearly 50 miles of public hiking trails in 11 Arc preserves. The Arc also maintains lodges for people seeking wholesome nature retreats, and public education courses on topics of natural history (temporarily interrupted by the COVID-19 virus). Click here for a full listing of preserves. All Arc donors receive an annual magazine filled with fine photography, inspiring essays stories, and news of our accomplishments at year end. Donor gifting at least $35 will receive a hard copy by mail; others will receive the magazine digitally. Be sure to subscribe to our e-news, too!

Questions? Email Kayla Rankin, who is administering the campaign’s progress and gift-giving, at info@arcofappalachia.org or call 937-365-1935. If you wish to speak to Nancy Stranahan, Arc Director, her email is director@arcofappalachia.org, and phone is 937-365-1489.

One can hike from Ash Cave Eastern Reserve all the way to Ash Cave without ever crossing private lands. Photo of Ash Cave by Lewis Ulman, Trailsidephoto.com

A remarkably mature and healthy forest covers the entirety of the property, including hemlock groves in the deep ravines. Courtesy of Tom Croce Photography.

Map showing location of the Ash Cave Eastern Preserve. Red Rock Bluffs is a different tract, recently protected by the Arc of Appalachia not far from Old Man’s Cave.

Crystal clear streams flow through moss-covered rock formations. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Cubert.

The rock formations lining East Queer Creek on the property are outstanding. Photo courtesy of Jerry and Barb Jividen