On Fri., Oct. 23, Ohio University Master of Science in Environmental Studies students and CE3 Brownbag attendees were among only approximately 100 explorers this year to visit Crane Hollow Nature Preserve, a biodiversity hotspot deep within Hocking County’s Laurel Township.
Crane Hollow encompasses more than 1,940 acres. Of those, 1,286 acres have been designated as a state nature preserve by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. The preserve includes almost 10,000 known species, some of which are unique to Crane Hollow.
“It’s like vising the iconic cliffs and rocks in Hocking Hills, but they’re totally undisturbed by humans,” Merri Collins, a first-year MSES student, said. “It’s incredible to have all the unique species at your fingertips. Being able to research biodiversity loss with Crane Hollow as a control group would be amazing.”
Student attendees visited with taxonomists who have been categorizing species there for the past 20 years. With diverse flora and fauna — including bobcats — thriving without human impact, the region makes for an ideal research setting. Collins said her favorite part was the colorful fungi on the undisturbed rocks.
“It has a rainforest feel because many species keep being discovered right here in Appalachia,” Collins said.
Bethany Bella, a sophomore working on a bachelor of specialized studies, agreed that the preserve’s disconnect from humanity was its main appeal.
“What a wonderful way to spend an early fall afternoon it was!” Bella said. “It’s a far cry from the swarms of visitors hiking through Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills.”
Bella’s Flikr album of photos from the hike can be found at https://flic.kr/s/aHsknCgr3o.