Cardinal’s new nature preserve in Clermont Co. protects old growth forest


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In the forest, your eyes track the sunlight, moving upwards through branches. A fine net of sinuous beech boughs and startling red maple leaves filter the sunlight. You are standing in the kind of woods that is seldom seen anywhere in the world. The strangeness of this cross section of trees, the wet woods laced with wetland, the smell of the soil settles on you like a fog. You are in Rinsky Woods Nature Preserve in northeast Clermont County, Ohio.

Land owner Bob Rinsky and Cardinal’s Andy Dickerson

Land owner Bob Rinsky and Cardinal’s Andy Dickerson

It is one of the few wet flatwoods of this type in the world. Those that still exist are found only in SW Ohio and SE Indiana. It is designated an Ohio Natural Landmark by the Ohio Dept. of Natural resources. In fact, Rinsky Woods is the second largest and most biodiverse woods of this kind in the world. See it for yourself. There is a loop trail inside the nature preserve that Cardinal will maintain for visitors.

The protection of this property helps to maintain a functioning wetland which provides a buffer between working farms and the headwaters of Moore’s Creek. This is key to sustaining valuable agricultural production while protecting water quality.

Including this mighty wood, Cardinal owns and maintains over 360 acres of nature preserves.

Cardinal is proud to announce the purchase and preservation of 59 wooded acres in Clermont County — our first nature preserve in this county. The forest is located just east of Stonelick State Park, adding to open space already in the region.

Long time landowner Bob Rinsky, whose family has owned the property since 1935, worked with Cardinal to preserve the woods for all time. He reports that this stand of forest has never been cut, contributing to the superb diversity if huge trees, as well as a relatively open and diverse herbaceous layer.

Rinsky Woods is characterized by a unique community of American Beech, Swamp White Oak and Red Maple, checkered with wetlands.

Aerial Perspective, Kope Hollow

Aerial Perspective, Kope Hollow

According to noted local botanist, Dan Boone, Kope Hollow is an excellent example — not only if the geological Kope formation — but of a Calcareous Mesophytic forest (a forest with lime-heavy alkaline soils.) This type of woods provides fertile placess for an array of native species, including goose plum trees (shown).

The property embraces both sides of Kope hollow. Its features include a direct tributary to the Ohio RIver, five waterfalls, mature hardwood trees, a great variety or bird species — and a staggering list of over 100 plant species.

A major geological find

In the 1960’s, geologists discovered and named its now-famous geological feature — Kope Formation — after finding it on site. Early Swiss-German settlers planted vineyards in Kope Hollow. One man-made feature worth noting is the ghost of a prohibition-era wine cellar. There are two, in fact, hidden as stills on a wooded hillside.

For more information about hiking existing trails on Kope Hollow Preserve or about stewardship volunteer opportunities, contact Anna at

Kope Hollow Nature Preserve was acquired by Cardinal in November 2017 from conservation-minded Vern Uchtman and Elizabeth Oldiges. The site is located at the southern edge of Brown County along the Ohio River. The land is protected for its scenic, natural and historic conservation values.

Cardinal Land Conservancy’s stewardship of precious land it protects means taking care of it for all time. Kope Hollow Nature Preserve, located on Rte. 52 in Brown County is in the midst of an extensive project to complete trails across the 53-acre site — and remove invasive plant species as well.

Cardinal hopes that, with the help of volunteer land stewards, the preserve will soon have better access to trails. A recent project has opened up the entry and added parking spaces.

Getting help

Aided by volunteers, Cardinal’s staff is wworking with consultant Jason Brownknight of Brownknight EcoResources to improve the visitor’s experience. A professional ecologist, Jason specializes in watershed planning, pollinator habitat creation, native landscape design and invasive species management. Of Kope Hollow, he says “Ecosyystem resilience is dependent upon biological diversity. Non-native species decrease resilience by limiting establishment of native species.” Good reason to remove honeysuckle!

PHOTO: Goose Plum Tree by Vern Uchtman

PHOTO: Goose Plum Tree by Vern Uchtman

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Preserved Land

Cardinal Land Conservancy holds 28 Conservation Easements and owns three nature sanctuaries.

I-74 Greenway

The 19-mile gateway through western Hamilton County has long been cherished for its scenic vista.

Preserving Agriculture

 By sustaining agricultural uses, we protect irreplaceable land heritage and safeguard natural resources.