Quiverheart Gorge

 

99 acres in Adams County

Total Project Cost: $614,531; Balance: $200,000

Quiverheart Regional Stewardship Hub:

Endowment Fund Goal $4,000,000

Balance to Raise: $3,050.000

 

A new Arc preserve in Adams County. Quiverheart Gorge is a 99 acre property located immediately west of Steam Furnace Road, near the village of Peebles, Ohio. It also happens to lie only 1.5 miles north of Kamama Prairie Preserve. It is the historic site of the early 19 C. forge known simply as Steam Furnace, the first iron furnace to be powered by steam west of the Appalachian mountains. Quiverheart features a surprisingly deep and steep-sided dolomite gorge that is practically unknown outside the immediate region. Until the project came to the Arc’s attention, we had no idea that a gorge of this depth and scale existed anywhere in Adams County. The beauty of its cliffs, grottos and rock formations rival that of the larger Rocky Fork Gorge of Highland County. It will surely become a treasured tourist destination comparable to that of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.

Protects Rare Alkaline Cedar Glades. Scattered across the preserve are forest prairie openings with plant communities typical of Alkaline Cedar Glades. This type of plant community is one of the rarest ecosystems in the nation. Here in Ohio, it is restricted to a relatively small region of Adams County and, to a lesser extent, Belmont County. Eastern Short-grass Prairies are genetically distinct from the short-grass prairies of the far western Great Plains and the tall-grass prairies of the Midwest. Adams County’s Short-grass Prairie Communities – also known as Cedar Barrens, Xeric Limestone Prairies, and Cedar Glades – extend southward from Adams County into the limestone-based bluegrass territories of Kentucky and Tennessee. Cedar Glades can also be found in Missouri and Arkansas, as well as found in scattered populations across Eastern United States, but always growing in shallow soils derived from the underlying limestone, dolomite, and calcareous shale bedrocks, and always rare.

A Sanctuary for Wildflowers. Spring ephemerals carpet the understory of Quiverheart in April. Species include white trilliums, wake robins, snow trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, early meadow rue, and woodland phlox. The rare Sullivantia sullivantii, walking fern and purple cliff brake fern – all rare to uncommon plants in Ohio – are found in the preserve’s lower elevations, and are indicative of exposed dolomite bedrock and very thin, high pH soils.

An exceptionally beautiful waterfall. One of the main features of the Quiverheart Gorge is its 12-foot-high waterfall. This dramatic feature is lined with ferns and wildflowers. The Arc intends to install a hiking trail that will take visitors to view this scenic feature.

Significant footage of riparian corridor protected.  The property protects approximately 13,500 feet (2.53 miles) along Bundle Run and two unnamed tributaries. Bundle Run is a tributary of Ohio Brush Creek, which is listed as a Superior High Quality Water by the Ohio EPA, based on its exceptional ecological values. The high water quality in the forested region of Quiverheart contributes to the overall water quality of Ohio Brush Creek.

The dream of David and Kim Baker. David and Kim Baker, the current owners, approached us in the summer of 2021 with an unusual proposition. David was determined that his dream for his land to one day become a protected nature preserve – open to the public with hiking trails – would come to pass. They offered a genreous bargain sale on the property, and also pledged to bequeath their remaining 50 acres to the Arc, along with their house and barns and a sizeable beginning of an endowment fund to help maintain the preserve. They would also serve as the preserve’s long-term caretakers, pledging hundreds of hours of their own time each spring and fall to tackle the removal of invasive plants into the foreseeable future. And, because David and Kim are deeply embedded in the community – having served as 4-H advisors and leaders for years – they have also offered to organize youth and adult volunteers to help with trail building and invasive plant removal.

Visitor Services planned for the preserve include a 2.5-mile-long hiking trail that will be open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. We anticipate it will be open by the spring of 2024.

Future Stewardship Hub. David and Kim are bequeathing their remaining 50 acres of land, along with their house, horse arena, and many barns to serve as a future stewardship hub for the Arc. Because Adams County has more Arc preserves than any other county in Ohio, having a regional hub of operations will be an immense asset for our nonprofit in years to come – by not only stewarding the preserves we have but facilitating the establishment of new preserves. We are currently inviting pledges for our planned $4 million dollar endowment Fund at the Columbus Foundation that will perpertually support Quiverheart Regional Stewardship Hub. We  have already reached 25% of our goal.

 

Map of the new Quiverheart Preserve in Adams County.

Columbine cling to the moss covered boulders in Bundle Run. Photo by Tim Pohlar.

Signature karst spring ephemerals, like the columbine shown here, proliferate in Quiverheart Gorge.

Quiverheart rocks against the sky by Tim Pohlar

Quiverheart Gorge boasts the same stunningly tall vertical walls and rare plant communities found at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. Huge dolomite boulders tilt at odd angles at the floor of the narrow canyon.

Quiverheart waterfall. Photo by Brian Prose

A cascade at Quiverheart Preserve. Photo by Brian Prose.

Quiverheart waterfall. Photo by Brian Prose