Ales Run Wildlife Area, Noble County, Ohio
About Ales Run Wildlife Area
Until 2000, this 3,764-acre property in southeastern Ohio belonged to a coal-mining company. Today Ales Run Wildlife Area (WA) is owned and managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Nearly 60 percent of the parcel was strip-mined prior to modern mine-reclamation laws. The resulting rugged terrain includes many highwalls and spoil banks. Brush and small trees have begun growing back on the thin, acidic soil in the mined areas. The remaining 40 percent of the tract was not mined and today is a mix of forest and brushland.
People visit Ales Run WA to hunt, hike, pick berries and wild mushrooms, and observe wildlife. Resident species include deer, cottontail rabbits, gray and fox squirrels, beaver, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, woodcock, and songbirds.
Improving the Land for Woodcock
In summer 2010, managers supervised commercial clearcut logging on five sites totaling 63 acres, for an average cut area of around 13 acres per site. The clearcuts were conducted on stands of white pine that the property’s previous owners had planted during mine reclamation activities some 50 to 60 years earlier.
The cuts, generally on upper slopes and ridge tops, will grow back in native hardwood trees and shrubs. The resulting patches of young forest will immediately benefit ruffed grouse, whip-poor-wills, and various songbird species including blue-winged warblers, prairie warblers, yellow-breasted chats, field sparrows, indigo buntings, and Eastern towhees.
In summer, following the hatching and fledging of young, interior-forest songbirds such as wood thrushes and scarlet tanagers will lead their broods into the regrowing clearcuts. In the patches of dense young forest, the young birds will be able to feed on fruits and insects in a setting where vegetation and tree stems are thick enough to protect them from predators. Fruits produced in the young-forest habitats will also provide energy for songbirds that often stop and feed in such areas during the autumn migration.
On the Ales Run patch cuts, managers left unlogged corners of pine stands as roosting and bad-weather cover for turkeys, grouse, woodcock, and other birds and forest mammals.
While the newly created young-forest habitat will largely benefit other species, woodcock will also use the cover. The region as a whole has ample old cattle pastures that woodcock currently use for singing and roosting. The patch cuts on the WA should expand the amount of nesting and brood-rearing habitat in the area. The regrowing patch cuts will offer resting and feeding habitat to woodcock passing through in spring and fall.
Wildlife biologists will establish and run a woodcock singing ground survey route starting in spring 2011.
About 100 acres of pine plantations still exist across Ales Run WA; managers plan additional rounds of commercial clearcuts in 2015 and 2020. Each cutting cycle will remove 25 to 50 acres of mature pine, with each patch cut averaging around 10 acres. The white pine stands currently do not offer much value to wildlife, as the habitat beneath their crowns is mainly open and bare.
Funding and Partners
Ohio Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management Institute
How to Visit
Ales Run WA is 3 miles east of Dexter City. Visitors can travel up County Road 2 to County Road 42 to access interior township roads bordering and passing through the area. For further information on where the young-forest patch cuts are located, contact Ken Ritchie, Wildlife Area Supervisor, Wolf Creek WA, 740-962-2048, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Mike Reynolds, Forest Wildlife Research Biologist, Wildlife District Four, Athens, 740-589-9921, email@example.com.