Elf Ear Barrens

87 acre donation in Adams County

Total Project Cost: $279,664 – Balance to Raise: $0

A story of unexpected benevolence. The Arc of Appalachia is delighted to announce that it is the recipient of an 87-acre donation of mitigation land from Dayton Power & Light. Elf Ear Barrens is located in Peebles, Ohio, near the Arc’s existing Kamama Prairie, Plum Run Prairie, and Chalet Nivale preserves. Although it had been heavily grazed over the years, the property protects pockets of rare cedar glades that shelter an astounding diversity and abundance of mosses and lichens on its thin Adams County soils.

An otherworldly haven for mosses and lichens. John Howard, an expert southern Ohio naturalist and friend of the Arc, organized a biological inventory of the property this past spring. He, along with the other outstanding botanists who attended, recorded 49 species of mosses and 118 species of lichens, along with 361 plant species. Among these was the extremely rare and diminutive Elf-Ear Lichen, which we adopted as the property’s namesake (see photo at right, taken on-site by moss and lichen expert, Robert Klips). 

Ohio Brush Creek – a refuge for rare freshwater mussels. Elf Ear Barrens protects 814 feet of riparian corridor along Ohio Brush Creek. According to the Ohio EPA’s Ohio Brush Creek Basin Survey, “collection records show Ohio Brush Creek supports a disproportionately diverse mussel fauna including 27 taxa, five of which are presently state endangered; several others are considered rare with special state status.” Most notable of these is the endangered yellow sandshell. Because mussels are extremely susceptible to pollution and poor water quality, they are one of the most threatened groups of aquatic animals found in Ohio. Reports of mussel beds near Elf Ear Barrens make the preserve all the more important for the long-term protection of our state’s declining mussel populations.

Click here to read the full article from the 2022-2023 news magazine.

Marsh marigold at Pickett Run Wetlands. Photo by Tim Pohlar.
Elf-ear Lichen . Photo by Bob Klips

Elf-ear Lichen. Photo taken on-site by Robert Klips.