Pickett Run Wetlands at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary

 

19 acres in Highland County

Total Project Cost: $153,000
Balance to Raise: $153,000

 

A rich fen in an unlikely location. The Highlands Nature Sanctuary region is known for its outstanding karst topography, with sinkholes, stone arches, and the steep-walled Rocky Fork Gorge. What we are not known for are wetlands. There are a few notable exceptions. The back forty of Ridgeview Farm is positively saturated, and the Shining Springs region on Barretts Mill Road is filled with seeps and springs. Other than that, we pretty much sit on gravel! That was why we were so surprised to discover another truly wet property just over our boundary line on Furneau Road. Pickett Run Wetlands had been entirely off our radar until it came up for sale last spring.

A highly-threatened ecosystem protected. Coldwater alkaline springs feed the property’s soils, which lie on limestone bedrock, creating an uncommon wetland characterized by a high pH, known as a fen. At Pickett Run, alkaline-tolerant plants, such as skunk cabbage and marsh marigold, thrive in the spring. In fact, Pickett Run Wetlands likely boasts THE largest colony of marsh marigold in the entire Sanctuary region! In summer, water-loving plants such as giant goldenrod, turtlehead, and the rare Riddell’s goldenrod proliferate.

Wildflower-rich woodlands. Pickett Run Wetlands shares a border with the Arc’s existing Sad Song and Parker Woods tracts, which have become popular destinations for our annual Wildflower Pilgrimage due to their outstanding spring wildflower displays (click on the map tab above). Despite being heavily impacted by human activity over the years, spring wildflowers have managed to thrive in Pickett Run Wetlands’ rich woodlands as well. Purple phlox, large-flowered trillium, mayapple, rue anemone, and waterleaf were among the species identified this past spring in the steep-sided ravine that runs down the property’s southeastern border.

The Sanctuary’s first engagement in protecting Pickett Run, a 3.25-mile-long tributary of the Rocky Fork. Pickett Run originates from two branches, one near Barrett’s Mill Road and the other near Brier Hill Road, close to the center of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary region.  Although it’s never been officially designated by the Ohio EPA, due to the presence of coldwater indicator species, including 4 macroinvertebrates, mottled sculpin, blacknose dace, and southern redbelly dace, Pickett Run is likely to be classified coldwater habitat, the EPA’s highest habitat designation.

Seeking volunteers to help restore the wetlands. Acquiring Pickett Run Wetlands would enable us to preserve and restore an outstanding plant community that is certainly worthy of protection, and we are willing to put in the work. Once acquired, our Arc Stewardship Team is looking for one or more dedicated volunteers who would like to adopt this tiny treasure of a preserve and show it the love it needs to meet its full potential as a healthy wetland ecosystem. If you are interested, please contact info@arcofappalachia.org.

Marsh marigold at Pickett Run Wetlands. Photo by Tim Pohlar.
A wildflower-laden woodlands at Pickett Run Wetlands. Photo by Tim Pohlar.