Unique nature preserve to open in Scioto County

A map of the Gladys Riley Golden Star Lily Preserve.

A nature preserve has been created in Scioto County for the Golden Star Lily that’s considered an endangered flower in Ohio.

There are two places in the state of Ohio where the Golden Star Lily grows. There is a small patch that grows in Adams County and there is an abundance that grows in a newly created 200 acre Gladys Riley Golden Star Lily Preserve.

According to arcofappalachia.org, “The species (Golden Star Lily) is listed as an endangered species in Ohio. They are found in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The species is recorded as imperiled or critically imperiled in most states in which it is found.”

For some time now the Arc of Appalachia, Friends of Scioto Brush Creek and many others have been involved in the creation of the preserve. The goal of the preserve is to keep the flower growing in Scioto County and to create an atmosphere in which people could see them in bloom.

Jody Newton-McAllister, President of Friends of Scioto Brush Creek said, there are thousands of Golden Star Lillys living on the preserve

“The Arc of Appalachia has worked for over 10 years to purchase land to protect the endangered golden star lilies that blooms in the early spring and protect the land for future generations. The Friends of Scioto Brush Creek, Inc. has worked alongside Arc volunteers to help create a trail system in the preserve in anticipation of opening the nature preserve up to the public,” Newton-McAllister said.

McAllister said April 1 will mark the opening of the preserve to the general public.

She said at the event there will be information about the preserve along with information about the two trail systems that’s been created within the preserve.

In total, the preserve will be 200 acres in size and will be the only place where the lilly will be accessible to the public.

“They are early spring bloomers, that’s why they have the grand opening on April the first. Hopefully, they will be in bloom at that time and they only last for a week or two and they are gone for the year,” McAllister said.

She said the Golden Star Lilly is much more common in the southern part of the United States.

When talking about the history of what has become the Gladys Riley Golden Star Lilly Preserve, McAllister said the first piece of property for the preserve was purchased from the son of Gladys Riley.

“Gladys Riley was a long time educator in the Otway area for over 50 years. She was well loved and taught her classes about nature, she loved to teach about birds and wildflowers,” McAllister said. “It just so happened the Gold Star Lilly was growing on the property the family owned. For the longest time, there was a place on Rockey Fork Road where is lilly was growing in the whole state of Ohio, that’s why it’s considered endangered.”

McAllister said over the years the Arc of Appalachia has been able to acquire various properties to build the preserve in Otway.

McAllister said this preserve is going to mean a lot to the area because there will be people that come far and wide to see the flowers in bloom.

“This is going to be great for eco-tourism because now that there is a parking lot and two nature trails it will attract a lot of people from outside Scioto County. People will come with their cameras and stop at local stores and spend money,” McAllister said.

She said people may take the time to visit places like the Otway Covered Bridge and other places while they are in the area.

Prior to the opening of the preserve the Friends of Scioto Brush Creek are anticipated to put the finishing touches on the trails.

According to released information, the Arc of Appalachia founded its first preserve for the Golden Stars in 2005 with a 67-acre refuge just outside of Otway.

For more information about Gladys Riley Golden Star Lily Preserve or the Acr of Appalachia visit arcofappalachia.org.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933