Cardinal Preserves

Cardinal holds the titles to 7 nature preserves. Here are some interesting facts about each of them. For more information about any of them, or to inquire about events on these preserves, contact Anna at .

Rinsky Woods

Clermont County

There are few woods like this in the world. Those that exist are found only in southwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana. Rinksy Woods is the second largest woods of this kind in the world– in fact, it has been designated as an Ohio Natural Landmark by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. These wet flatwoods are adjacent to Stonelick State Park, adding to an admirable stretch of greenspace in the area.

Todd’s Fork Preserve

Clinton County

Native prairies give way to a hundred+ acre woods, Todd’s Fork of the Little Miami River, running through it all. Cardinal has several stewardship projects ongoing, here, including maintenance of the prairie, which is burnt to discourage unwanted invasive plants on an annual basis.

Kope Nature Preserve

Brown County

In Southeast Brown County, the Kope formation (a bedrock formation unique to southern Ohio and Indiana) runs through incredibly diverse woods. A recent native plant survey listed over 100 native species. This property is also graced with five waterfalls, contributing to Roup’s Run, which flows into the Ohio River just beyond the bounds of the property.

Hunter Glen

Clinton County

The last remaining wooded area in the small Wilmington-area neighborhood of Highland Addition, Hunter Glen features maturing woods and a streams which run into Lytle Creek. The preservation of this place serves to prevent erosion and improve stream water quality, but it is also a testament to the power of volunteerism. The preserve is named for Bud Hunter, who maintained the preserve for years.

Styer Preserve

Hamilton County

A small gem near the White Water River. The preserve sits on a wooded ridge with varied flora, ephemeral wetlands, and patches of old growth woods. The understory provides an ideal sanctuary for birds and wildlife in landscape that is mostly residential.

Conservation Easements: Landowner Profiles

Cardinal holds over 30 conservation easements. Easement donors maintain ownership of their land, and with that the freedom to sell, mortgage, or pass the land onto their heirs. We monitor each of these easements once a year, to ensure the protective easement has not been violated. Cardinal provides lasting protection to the land, but our landowners are key stewards of their land. The following are profiles of some champions of land preservation.

Kim and Richard Hiatt, 76 acres in Highland County
Kim Hiatt grew up on a farm in Highland county. Because of this early closeness to the land, she believes it is important to preserve working farms. In 1983, Kim bought the land she and her husband, Richard, live on now. Kim began researching conservation options in 2010. After some research and several applications that were not accepted, Kim and Richard signed their conservation easement in 2016.

Since they preserved their farm, the Hiatts have volunteered to host farmers in the county who wish to learn more about farmland preservation. Richard has taken leadership on Cardinal’s Stewardship volunteer team, as well, where he has maintained native prairie on Todd’s Fork Preserve.

“It is easy to understand why you should do it. It isn’t necessarily easy to get through the paperwork, but, I had help. In this small community, I didn’t want to see more farmland be lost to subdivision.” (Kim Hiatt, 2018)

Ursulines of Brown County, 85 acres in Brown County
“ And if, according to times and circumstances, the need arises to make new rules or do something different, do it prudently and with good advice.” St. Angela

Farmland preservation is a “tribute to families who are farmers [and] to the rural people who have loved and supported us”, says Sister Christine Pratt of the Ursulines of Brown County. The sisters donated an easement in 2010. Formerly the St. Ursula Literary Institute, they established a school for young ladies in St. Martin in 1845. This school was built on a large farm, with woods running through it. They rented the farmland to local farmers.

In the late eighties, the sisters began looking to the future. Their group was diminishing in number, and aging; they no longer operated the school on grounds. “We started to ask ‘what is our relationship to the land’ and ‘what does that call us to’”, says Sr. Pratt. When this decision was put to them, they did not take the responsibility lightly. They established a committee to consider their options. After over twenty years of research, prayer, and discussion with members of the community, the sisters decided to pursue a conservation easement.

In 2017, the St Ursula farm was sold at auction to a member of the community who was known to the sisters. He was the steward the sisters had hoped to pass the land on to: an intentional farmer, and a family man, who hopes to pass the land on to his grandchildren. Of the easement transfer process, Sr. Pratt advises that easement holders “trust in God and [your] sense of commitment to the land.”

Alta and Jim Beasley, 142 acres in Brown County
Jim grew up spending most of his free time outdoors and Alta grew up on a farm. “My family were good stewards of the land…many of our meals were farm to table, before farm to table was cool. It was just a way of life for my family,” said Alta.

These early experiences imbued a sense of responsibility to their land. In 1985 the Beasleys developed a conservation plan for their farm and subsequently were recognized for their efforts when they were declared “Conservationists of the Year” by the Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District. Preserving their farm in perpetuity feels like “the icing on the cake” to the Beasleys: a continuation of the work they have cared so much about, and a way to contribute to the protection and sustainability of the environment

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