Tobacco Barn Hollow Preserve
423.55 Acres in Pike Co.
A Healthy Forest Refuge. Tobacco Barn Hollow Preserve (formerly known as Morgan Fork) is situated in the Pike State Forest region of Ohio. It is comprised of four tracts, three that had been purchased with funds from Ohio Public Work Commission’s Clean Ohio Greenspace program. The fourth, a property known as Canebrake Ridge, was donated to the Arc of Appalachia in 2020 and serves as the caretaker residence for the preserve region. Tobacco Barn Hollow is best described as a good, solid, no-nonsense Appalachian Forest, with its signature oaks & hickories, wild turkeys, and dogwood flowers. It serves as a dependable aging forest refuge for Wood Thrush, Ovenbirds, Parula Warblers, salamanders, and other natives who thrive in undisturbed communities.
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 Pike State Forest and the Tobacco Barn Hollow preserve 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.
Aesthetic Appeal. The preserve boasts beautiful, imposing exposed rock formations and a dramatic steep-sided ravine carved out of shale with a sandstone bed. The purchase of these three properties and the donation of Canebrake Ridge provides watershed protection to tributaries that runs throughout the preserve and continue through the state forest until its confluence with the main stem of Morgan Fork.
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 on the Canebrake Ridge property 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, spring peepers and 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.
Habitat for Bats. 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.
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.