Tobacco Barn Hollow III

& Canebrake Ridge

Project Acres: 161         Project Value: $460,000

Donation Acres: 7     Donation Value: $219,000

 

Saving the Great Eastern Forest’s Most Charismatic

Wilderness Icon- The Timber Rattlesnake

Tobacco Barn Hollow III and Canebrake Ridge are an expansion of the Arc’s existing Tobacco Barn Hollow Region. The 161 acre Tobacco Barn Hollow III property was purchased in June 2020 with partial funding from Clean Ohio. Then in fall, the sellers donated their 7 acre homesite that is surrounded by Tobacco Barn Hollow III to the Arc before moving overseas to ensure the entire property would stay intact and protected. Click here to read more about their story.

A Healthy, Intact Appalachian Forest. Tobacco Barn Hollow III is nearly entirely covered with a diverse mixed mesophytic forest composed of medium-aged trees with a contiguous closed canopy cover. The larger trees average 50 to 70 years of age. The forest has essentially remained undisturbed since 1981. The only trees harvested since then were several tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera​) to construct a log cabin dwelling for the house site, known as Canebrake Ridge.

Invasive plants are practically non-existent, other than near the homesite​. The forest community is extremely rich in species, is healthy, and is biologically intact. Many of the older trees are 18-20 inches in diameter. All the species one would expect to find in a pre-settlement forest at this site remain in the property’s forest assemblage. To improve in diversity, all it has to do is naturally age.

Expanding a Large Block of Forest Land. ​These tracts are immediately adjacent to the 13,350-acre Pike State Forest. Together, alongside nearby neighbors who also own large forest tracts and the Arc’s existing Tobacco Barn Hollow preserve, these tracts form a large block of nearly unfragmented temperate hardwood forest. Only along the roadsides is the land base fragmented into house sites. When walking these tracts, all one can see in the distance are the rippling folds of the blue forested foothills of the Appalachians.

Rich Amphibian Pond. ​Near the homesite is a 0.3 acre pond that is shallow and – unlike most man-made ponds – has never has been stocked with fish. The pond currently supports abundant populations of red-spotted newts. Without fish, whose presence severely diminishes amphibian regeneration, the pond serves as a breeding pool for Cope’s gray tree Frogs, green frogs, wood frogs, eastern toads, and spring peepers; and possibly spotted salamanders. Even small ponds without fish can be spectacularly productive for amphibians, the young providing sustenance for snakes, birdlife, and mammals, such as raccoons, mink, and weasels.

The streams draining the property are populated with high numbers of streamside salamanders, primarily two-lined salamanders, an indicator of clean well-functioning stream communities. Hellgrammites were found in one of the plunge pools.

Charismatic Wildlife. ​With the presence of numerous large trees exhibiting suitable bat roosting sites, the openness of the understory, and the property’s access to surface water, these tracts are almost certainly utilized by a number of Ohio’s bat species, both the migratory tree bats and the cave bats. However, it is the dense forest canopy, relatively undisturbed forest condition, an occasional outcropping of resistant sandstone bedrock, and known sightings of Timber Rattlesnakes (​Crotalus horridus​) that make these tracts unusual and critically important natural landscapes for wildlife species.

Preserving Critical Habitat for an Ohio Endangered Species.  Timber Rattlesnakes have disappeared across most of the Eastern Forest due to loss of habitat, human persecution, and the effects of climate change. Timbers require large areas relatively free of roads, residential development, and commercial areas. Annually, adult males will move several miles through home ranges of hundreds of acres for foraging and breeding purposes. Although females and subadults will have smaller movements and home ranges, they still require substantial areas of habitat. Large, undeveloped areas like Tobacco Barn Hollow III provide a buffer from human impacts. ​ In fact, many documented wildlife sightings, biologist research records, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resource verify that there are records for the Timber Rattlesnake in the Tobacco Barn Hollow region. The landowners of Tobacco Barn Hollow III and Canebrake Ridge, who have never deliberately looked for the snake nor molested them, have enjoyed 13 sightings over the years.

There is also a high probability that a winter denning area occurs on or near the property. Field work conducted in the nearby Tar Hollow State Forest area has shown that Timber Rattlesnakes encountered in the second half of October have a 100% probability of being within 250 meters of their winter dens. Because a female rattlesnake with young were credibly documented on this property in late October, 2019,​ the presence of a denning area is very likely. Click here for more information about Timber Rattlesnakes.

A Repository for Breeding Bird Populations. The Tobacco Barn Hollow preserve properties are part of the larger Pike Forest region, one of the few truly large blocks of mostly unfragmented forest in the state of Ohio. Several deep forest bird species require large unbroken forest blocks to ensure breeding success. All of them can be found on the Arc’s Tobacco Barn Hollow tracts. They include the cerulean warbler, hooded warbler, worm-eating warbler, and the Kentucky warbler. All of these birds are being monitored for disturbing declines in numbers. Researchers are beginning to sleuth out some of the complexities in these bird species’ natural histories. An Ohio researcher, Kelly Williams, discovered that one of the greatest predators of the low-nesting hooded warbler is the chipmunk. Meanwhile, herpetologists have discovered that the preferred food source of the timber rattlesnake is the chipmunk. Thus there can be drawn a connecting positive link between the frequency of hooded warblers and the frequency of Timber Rattlesnakes. What we know about wildlife ecology is only the tip of the iceberg.

The Arc’s Plan. A public hiking trail will be installed to allow visitation to Tobacco Barn Hollow III. In addition to performing their regular duties, members of the Arc of Appalachia’s staff will serve as long-term volunteer caretakers of Canebrake Ridge.

Click to enlarge

Tobacco Barn Hollow forest, photo by Lewis Ulman
0.3 acre pond at Canebrake Ridge
Newts breeding, photo by John Howard
Timber Rattlesnake at Tobacco Barn Hollow. Photo by John Jaeger
Cerulean Warbler