Hocking Hills Forever Campaign

the Arc’s 2022-2023 Campaign to Save a Beloved Landscape

To fund another 600-acres of new natural areas & to found

a NEW Arc Regional Stewardship Hub in the heart of Hocking Hills

Project Cost: $6,901,956      Balance to Raise: $4,435,100

by Rick Perkins, Board President

My first home as a young adult was a small house located near the Hocking River.  My second was a cabin near Rock House State Park. I naturally fell in love with the Hocking Hills and enjoyed countless hours getting lost in the woods. But the Hocking landscape from my youth is almost unrecognizable today. The state parks alone now attract a conservative estimate of over five million visitors per year, and the larger region is becoming overwhelmed by day visitors, rental cabins and second homes.

Tourism is not the first boom economy in Hocking Hills. A long succession of extractive enterprises include deforestation for lumber, charcoal production to fuel iron furnaces, strip mining for coal, drilling for natural gas, and thousands of oil wells – each one of them leaving a legacy of scars on the land.

The natural resources of Hocking Hills are once again at the heart of a modern unregulated economy. Thousands of cabins, lodges, homes, tree houses, cottages, yurts, densely-populated campgrounds and even shipping container rentals have sprouted up on the landscape—each one removing forest cover, consuming water and producing sewage. Some lodges are so large and luxurious that they house entire indoor swimming pools and theaters. Hocking Hills is now the Zip-line Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest with over 50 courses.

With much so money to be made, the cost of land is skyrocketing to anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 per acre—displacing the traditional agrarian households that once dominated the county. Land owners’ mailboxes are filled with letters by developers urging folks to seel their lands. Without long term planning to bridle and guide such development, development may very well be the latest of a long history of enterprises that will drain the life and beauty out of the county.

The Arc of Appalachia is inviting all nature lovers who have a stake in Hocking Hills’ future join us in a bold Hocking Hills Forever Campaign, the success of which will speed up our acquisitions by the establishmengt a new Arc staff and stewardship hub in Hocking Hills. Having staff locally will enable us to most effectively work against the clock to preserve the most beautiful of the Hocking Hills’ remaining and rapidly diminishing intanct andscapes.

This year we have are working on purchasing EIGHT projects totalling 600 acres in Hocking Hills including:

  • 3 acquisitions – Cline Farm, Honeycomb Rocks, Big Cola Wetlands
  • 3 conservation easements on Buena Vista Road
  • 2 property bequests – Wildwood & Butterfly Repair
  • AND A NEW STEWARDSHIP HUB!

Since its inception, the feet-on-the-ground work of preserving the 9000-plus acres of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System was accomplished by  just a handful of Arc staff members working out of a single headquarters at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. Imagine what our accomplishments would look like if we founded a second land acquisition and stewardship hub in Hocking Hills! With your help, together we can create create even more landscapes of hope.

We only have to raise this money once – the benefits are forever. Bequests pledged for the endowment fund are deeply appreciated. If interested, please email Nancy Stranahan, Arc of Appalachia’s Director, at nancyoftheforest@gmail.com

Scroll down to see the stories on ALL EIGHT properties composing our current Hocking Hills campaign, as well as earlier completed projects. 

Rocks features at Cline Farm known as "Paradise."

250-acre Cline Farm

Cline Farm is outstandingly beautiful property covered with rock formations and a mosaic of old-growth forests. The land lies immediately next to Camp Wyandot in Clear Creek Valley. The Camp used the land for decades as an outdoor classroom before it went up for sale. Spoiler alert: this story has a happy ending. Click here to learn more. 

The ravines of Red Rock Bluffs shelter trees of impressive girths.

30-acre Honeycomb Rocks

Honeycomb Rocks includes the most beautiful forest AND the most stunning rock formations in all of Clear Creek watershed. It also harbors an ancient oak forest with towering trees. Located immediately adjacent to Cline Farm, this outstanding property will add grandeur to the public trail that is planned for Cline Farm & Honeycomb Rocks (will be available by free permit.) Click here to learn more. 

The ravines of Red Rock Bluffs shelter trees of impressive girths.

60-acre Big Cola Wetlands

Having lost 90% of Ohio’s wetlands in the past 200 years, it is a privilege to be working on saving one. Big Cola Wetlands has long road frontage and had we not gotten this one safely into contract, it would have ended up in 4 or 5 house lots.  The marsh is filled with marsh marigolds and skunk cabbages in the spring. Click here to learn more. 

The ravines of Red Rock Bluffs shelter trees of impressive girths.

105-acre Buena Vista Conservation Easements

When their adjacent very developable property came up for sale off Buena Vista Road in Hocking County, three wilderness-loving neighbors and Arc Board Member, Brian Blair, conspired to save it. The neighbors split the property in three lots, bought them all, and put a conservation easement on the deep trillium-strewn gorge that ran the length of the property.  Click here to learn more.