Hocking Hills Woodland Plan
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry has developed a broad, area-wide woodland plan for the Hocking Hills area with collaborative help from local partners, natural resource professionals, and public input.
- Berne Township, Fairfield County
- Village of Sugar Grove, Fairfield County
- Benton Township, Hocking County
- City of Logan, Hocking County
- Falls Township, Hocking County
- Falls-Gore Township, Hocking County
- Good Hope Township, Hocking County
- Green Township, Hocking County
- Laurel Township, Hocking County
Participation is voluntary and open to all landowners however, the focus of the plan is on small woodlot owners and woodland cabin owners. The overall goal of the plan is to maintain healthy woodlands in the area by providing information and natural resource professional assistance to landowners.
Coordinated Woodland Management
The plan provides a framework for voluntary coordinated woodland management across property boundaries of all ownership types. Increased coordinated management among woodlot owners would help address issues stemming from increased forest fragmentation and land division. Two demonstration sites are being developed on locally protected lands within the plan area to display how you can complete recommended woodlot practices on your property and encourage woodland management across boundaries.
Recommendations for Hocking Hills Region
Non-Native Insect Pests and Diseases: The introductions of non-native diseases and insect pests have significantly degraded the health of woodlands all across Ohio. The most significant and problematic non-native insect pests and diseases that threaten the Hocking Hills woodlands are
- Know how to identify non-native insect pests and diseases.
- Be on the lookout for new suspect infestations, especially of ALB, HWA, and TCD.
- Notify us or the Ohio Department of Agriculture if you suspect a new infestation.
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is an invasive insect that is particularly concerning for the Hocking Hills. HWA has the potential to decimate hemlocks in the Hocking Hills which would be a huge loss:
- Hemlocks provide a scenic backdrop for the region’s caves, cliffs, and gorges.
- The evergreen canopy that hemlocks provide can shelter many kinds of wildlife from winter winds and snow.
- Hemlock’s multi-layer canopy in shaded woodland environments provides unique habitat for a variety of birds.
HWA can be spread by wind, carried by mammals or birds, and by the human transportation of wood and trees. The only proven method of controlling Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is through chemically treating individual trees every 4 to 5 years, which limits treatments to trees in readily accessible and non-environmentally sensitive areas. Currently, it is not feasible to treat hemlocks in vast forests, particularly when a large number of trees are infested. Research work is being done to identify natural enemies that could be the key to controlling HWA.
Early detection could be the key to giving scientists more time to find a better way to controlling HWA.You can help by learning how to identify HWA, looking out for HWA, and reporting new suspect HWA infestation. For more information on how you can help, go to hemlockhero.com.
Native Plants/Invasive Plant Control: The Hocking Hills native woodland habitat is not only threatened by land-use change and development, but also by non-native invasive plants. Some of the most common and problematic non-native invasive plants found in or near the Hocking Hills area:
- Maintain diverse native plant communities by planting native trees, shrubs, and plants in your landscapes.
- Work to control the spread of invasive plants by reducing invasive plants on your property.
Wildlife Habitat: Several rare and high-priority wildlife species in the plan area are at risk, primarily due to loss of woodland habitat. Woodland habitats are needed by all of the high priority bird species found in the area. For example, studies show that cerulean warblers prefer large patches of forest for breeding habitat, and nest success of worm-eating warbler and wood thrush is higher in larger forest patches. Also, Louisiana water thrush, Kentucky warbler, hooded warbler and Acadian flycatcher make extensive use of riparian forests.
The good news is that approximately 76% of the land in the Hocking Hills Woodland Plan area is forested. However, the area’s forest is still becoming more divided or fragmented and the popularity of the region could increase future development in woodland habitats. Significant loss of woodland habitat and/or increased fragmentation would likely have a negative impact on wildlife in the area. The diversity of wildlife in the Hocking Hills is also threatened by non-native invasive plants; invasive plants will outcompete many of our native plants and form a plant monoculture, which provides minimal wildlife benefits.
- Maintain existing woodlands and keep them healthy.
- Favor trees and shrubs that produce mast (berries & nuts).
- Use native plants in landscapes.
- Control non-native invasive plants.
Providing Woodland Retreats: The Hocking Hills is an increasingly popular vacation destination that is valued for its natural beauty, solitude, and recreational opportunities. This area is known throughout the state for its unique combination of rocky gorges, cliffs, waterfalls, caves and hemlock trees. Millions of people visit the area every year to get away from the busyness of life, enjoy woodlands, view wildlife, and enjoy an array of outdoor recreational activities. Many people enjoy experiencing this unique region and desire to be a part of it. Many woodland owners in the area open their property to travelers for recreation and/or lodging.
- Improving woodland health and wildlife habitat can raise the appeal of woodland retreats and help maintain the uniqueness of the Hocking Hills.