On Saturday, Oct. 17 more than fifty officials and volunteers were on hand for the grand opening of The Chaparral Prairie’s new hiking trails.
Earlier in 2015, The Arc of Appalachia partnered with Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves to purchase a 60-acre property adjacent to the Chaparral Prairie near West Union. The purchase nearly doubled the prairie’s size, bringing the preserve up to 130 acres.
The new trails were constructed on the recently purchased parcel of land.
They link to the existing ¾ mile trail and pass through the various plant communities found on the prairie.
Chaparral Prairie is a State Nature Preserve, a rare botanical site and a public hiking destination located a few miles northwest of West Union. Of all the prairie remnants protected in this singular botanical region of Ohio, Chaparral is the most visually appealing – with its wide vistas of rolling green meadows, its dense colonies of prairie dock, and its spectacular floral showcases of dense blazing star and rattlesnake master.
Chaparral also boasts an impressive 22 state-listed species. It is covered with native prairie and open forests. The Arc has turned over the new acquisition to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to manage. The two new hiking trails will be open to the public every day of the year. A beautifully constructed new foot bridge fording a small creek on the new acquisition was built by Division of Natural Areas staff and funded by the Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society.
Jeff Johnson, State Preserve Administrator Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources officiated the opening ceremony. There were also several speakers who provided information about the prairie including: Adams County Commissioner Paul Worley, Nancy Stranahan Director, Arc of Appalachia; Jeff Husmann of the Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau, and Martin McAllister, Appalachian Forests Project Manager.
Guided hikes were conducted throughout the afternoon.