Gunning Preserve (Fickardt Farm)

170 acres of restored prairie habitat

Gunning Preserve (also known as Fickardt Farm) is 276.24-acre property adjacent to Big Darby Creek along London Road in Jackson Township of Pickaway County. This Preserve is located on the west side of Big Darby Creek between Circleville and Darbyville, Ohio and protects 4,400 lineal feet of riparian corridor. The acquisition of this property included collaboration with the Ohio Department of Transportation, Enviroscience, and The Conservation Fund to conserve habitat for threatened and endangered bats.


The Gunning Preserve is near AOA’s Mishe Moneto Preserve on Big Darby Creek, which is known to contain at least 10 known state listed species and 4 known federal endangered species. The Federal endangered species include the Northern riffleshell, the snuffbox mussel, the Indiana bat and the Northern long eared bat. It is likely that many these species are also found on the Gunning Preserve due to its close proximity along Big Darby Creek.


Historic fish sampling at the nearby Mishe Moneto Preserve reported 61 fish species and 3 hybrids. We expect a similarly diverse fish community at the Gunning Preserve.


Water quality within the Gunning Preserve segment of the Big Darby is excellent and meets Exceptional Warmwater Habitat use goals of the State’s Water Quality Standards. This stream segment is also identified as “Outstanding State Waters” which is the highest level of protection under the State’s anti-degradation policy.  This segment of Big Darby has been used for canoe trips in the past.


AOA Restoration activities at this Preserve have included cessation of farming, removal of invasive species and seeding of 170 acres of bottomland with native grasses and wildflowers. This bottomland has developed into prairie habitat suitable for grassland songbirds, waterfowl, small mammals, and numerous pollinators such as bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, flies, bats and other species. This prairie habitat reduces runoff to Big Darby Creek and results in water quality improvements.