Learn about Greenspace Conservation in Adams County
Arc of Appalachia’s Rock Run Preserve, a Clean Ohio Project
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We asked Arc of Appalachia spokesperson Andrea Jaeger to tell us more about the project, how it impacts the community, and share lessons learned advice for new applicants.
Tell us about your project.
In 2018, the Arc of Appalachia sought funding from Clean Ohio to expand its Rock Run Preserve in Adams County by an additional 180 acres. Already at 600 acres, the preserve offered significant protection of the Rock Run watershed, which is one of the most exceptionally scenic, highly biodiverse, and completely forested watersheds in the state. The two acquisitions included in our submission would put 95% of the watershed in conservation or preservation status, making it one of the best-protected watersheds in Ohio.
How does it impact the community?
One of the tracts in our grant included the head of Trillium Hollow, an incredibly steep-sided tributary of Rock Run. This was the missing piece in the puzzle; a tract that would permit a hiking trail to circle the upper bluffs of Trillium Hollow instead of having to cross the ravine’s impossibly steep terrain.
What we have realized from the covid-19 pandemic is that our trails are the greatest service we can continue to safely provide to the public. We have seen record levels of traffic over the past several months on our public trails as Ohioans seek safer opportunities to vacation and recreate closer to home. We are pleased to announce that the Arc’s Land Management team finished the two-year project of building the Red Trillium Loop Trail at the Rock Run Preserve this year, providing the community with an additional 3.5 miles of safe, scenic hiking. Interpretive and directional signage will be installed by spring, 2021, but visitation to the preserve is already welcomed and encouraged.
In addition, the Red Trillium Loop Trail is just one of seven trails the Arc manages in Adams County, with additional trails planned to be open in 2021. By substantially increasing our trail offerings in Adams County, and by helping to promote them in paid and non-paid promotional articles in the county’s travel and tourism magazine, the Arc assists the county in becoming a noteworthy destination for state-wide tourism.
How did you get started and develop your project proposal?
Because the Arc is committed to making Rock Run one of the best-protected watersheds in the state, we try to stay alert of land that comes up for sale in the region. When we learned these properties had become available, we approached the sellers, who were willing to enter into a purchase contract contingent upon the Arc getting grant funding.
Arc Board Members and staff visited the properties to compile species lists and gather data on both sites. Using data from the Ohio Heritage Data Bank, a Bioblitz conducted in Rock Run’s upper watershed by expert botanists and naturalists in 2017, aquatics data from a report prepared by the Midwest Biodiversity Institute, along with records from extensive volunteer-driven field studies, we soon had enough information to develop the project’s proposal.
We then created a long-term management plan for the property based on on-site assessments and our experience installing hiking trails, which helped us determine how much funding to request for site improvements. Meanwhile, we sought the approval of the township trustees and county commissioners for submitting our application and worked on meeting the remaining requirements for the grant.
Anything else you want to share?
Some advice for anyone submitting an application for the first time:
1) Stay organized! There are many moving parts involved and requirements to meet, from appraisals to title work, government endorsements to letters of recommendation, etc. Be sure to name and file everything carefully so that you don’t drive yourself crazy getting the necessary attachments in order to submit your application.
2) Look at the big picture. The methodology provides the structure for your proposal to be built around. Carefully read through the entire methodology and grant application before you start writing to understand what questions are being asked, how they relate to one another and build on each other, and how you can answer them in the strongest way possible to make the most compelling case for why your project should be funded.
3) Include photos. Reach out to photographers in your network to take photos of the site’s interesting features, including plants and animals if possible.
4) Give yourself time. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for letters of support, or to meet with the County Commissioners and Township Trustees. Give yourself plenty of time to proofread your application before the deadline, and double-check that you have included all of the necessary attachments and supporting documents.