LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
This 5,421-acre wildlife area lies 12 miles southeast of Jackson on U.S. Route 35. The scenic rolling hills are dissected by Symmes Creek, a small, low-gradient stream, and several of its tributaries.
More than half the area is wooded. Oak and hickory are the most common upland trees, with elm, ash, and silver maple along the streams. Virginia pine occurs in reverting upland fields. Index of Ohio's trees from the Division of Forestry. Twenty percent of the area consists of reverting old fields with a mixture of shrubby coverts and native grasses. Wild crabapple, hawthorn, flowering dogwood, sassafras, sumac, and Japanese honeysuckle are important wildlife food species in these old fields.
Other important wildlife habitats include several beaver ponds and seasonally flooded shrubby wetlands associated with Symmes Creek.
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
Originally the entire area was forested. During the 1800s most of the forest on the wildlife area and in Jackson County was clear-cut for agricultural purposes and to make charcoal for the local iron industry. Purchase of land for this wildlife area began in 1953. By that time most of the land consisted of cutover woodland and abandoned farmland.
The area was originally purchased for upland wildlife and forest wildlife management purposes. Croplands have since been retired and the area is managed intensively for wildlife species associated with forest habitat types. Management work has included selective improvement of existing woodland, addition of squirrel den boxes, and maintenance of shrubby coverts and open land by selective cutting and controlled burning.
FISH AND WILDLIFE
Largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill are the predominant species of fish in the ponds and streams.
Ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and gray squirrel are the principal game species, with lesser numbers of fox squirrel, cottontail rabbit, mourning dove, and woodchuck. Woodcock are most abundant during the spring and fall migrations; in spring a breeding population of woodcocks is found in association with the moist alder thickets. Beaver are abundant along Symmes Creek and its tributaries. All the furbearers common to the region are found on the area.
Wood ducks are common throughout the wetlands, ponds, and streams. Mallards, blue-winged teal, and occasionally other waterfowl occur, mostly as migrants. A rich variety of songbirds frequent the area in association with the diverse mixtures of habitat types.
HUNTING AND FISHING
The area is popular for hunting squirrels, ruffed grouse, deer, and wild turkeys. Scattered oak-hickory groves provide 3,420 acres of good squirrel hunting. More than 1,000 acres of reverting old fields with wild crabapple, hawthorn, and Virginia pine in combination with second growth hardwoods, provide excellent habitat for ruffed grouse, deer and wild turkey. Waterfowl hunting is limited but productive early in the season before the shallow marshes and ponds freeze over. Woodcock hunting is increasing in popularity. Raccoon hunting is good.
The remains of Madison Iron Furnace are located near the area headquarters. It is one of more than 40 iron furnaces that operated in southeastern Ohio from about 1840 to 1890. During this time extensive oak-hickory forests were clear-cut to provide charcoal for the furnaces, where ore from nearby mines was smelted. For more than a half-century some of the best iron in the world flowed from these furnaces. But the discovery of richer, more abundant ores in Michigan and Minnesota brought Ohio’s iron industry to an end.
The historic Kanawha Trail, used by buffalo, Native Americans, colonial militias, and early settlers, crosses the wildlife area.
PUBLIC USE FACILITIES
Several miles of interior roads and many parking areas provide good access to the entire area. Nearly twenty miles of walking trails are available to both hunter and hiker.
Further information may be obtained by contacting the Wildlife District Four Office at 360 East State Street, Athens, Ohio 45701; telephone (740)589-9930; or the Area Manager, Cooper Hollow Wildlife Area, 5403 CH & D Road, Oak Hill, Ohio 45656; telephone (740)682-7524.
TURN IN A POACHER
Ohio’s TIP, “Turn In a Poacher,” program is helping to curtail poaching throughout the state. TIP is designed to involve the public in reporting wildlife violations. Citizens who observe wildlife violations should call the TIP toll-free hotline, 1-800-POACHER.
Return to list of southeastern Ohio wildlife areas.