Spring Valley Wildlife Area

What are herps some of you might ask? Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians and herpetologist are those who study them. So herps has become the colloquial term or slang name that is now widely used by those on the inside to refer to reptiles and amphibians. Really, I’m not making this up.

Regardless, the theme of this field trip is reptiles and amphibians. To refresh your memory this group of animals is divided into reptiles (crocodilians, snakes, turtles and lizards) and amphibians (frogs, toads and salamanders). Short on crocs and gators, our region is represented by everything else and it’s these critters that we are going to try and find on this field trip.

Our chances of success are greatly improved by having Ryan Jorgensen as our field trip leader. Ryan is an expert herpetologist and avid naturalist. Ryan is about to complete his Masters degree in Biological Science at UC where he is specializing in herpetology. His research is on snakes and particularly their muscular activity during locomotion.

Ryan suggested Spring Valley WA as our venue for this trip because he thought it would have more herp diversity at this season than some closer locations. Many of us know Spring Valley Wildlife Area (SVWA) as a great birding area and in fact our Audubon Society has conducted at least one field trip there annually, usually birding, going back since I can remember. But the diverse habitats found in this 842 acre wildlife area are also perfect for herps. The shallow lake with dense emergent vegetation, the extensive marsh, the shallow Little Miami River, the wooded riparian bottoms and hardwood hillsides and dense brushy edges all contribute to a perfect habitat for a diversity of herp species.

Ryan plans to spend the morning walking the loop trail investigating and probing all the hidden spots where our subjects may be hiding. While there are never any guarantees, Ryan knows how to find herps so expectations are high. Ryan will most likely find or see several species of herps including snakes, skinks, turtles, frogs, toads and salamanders and believes that finding 10 or more species is a reasonable goal. And he will likely catch a few to boot. SVWA is also famous as one of the few places in Ohio that the eastern massasauga rattlesnake is found. Ryan told me he saw one on his last visit to SVWA (as of this writing).

This trip will consist totally of walking the loop trail around the marsh which is a little over two miles long. But walking will be leisurely and over flat terrain with lots of stops to view wildlife. Parts of the trails may be damp or wet, so waterproof footwear is advised. Binoculars will aid you in viewing wildlife and are also advised. To make your trip more comfortable we suggest bringing water, sun screen, insect repellant and a hat. There are no restrooms available at SVWA, but there is plenty of privacy in the woods. This trip is expected to end around noon. So why not come out and join Ryan for what should prove to be a unique field trip and a lot of fun. If you have any questions feel free to contact Ryan.

Directions: The bridge on Roxanna-New Burlington Road is closed! So, the usual way of getting to Spring Valley from U.S. 42 will not work.

Instead, to get to Spring Valley Wildlife Area from Cincinnati, take I-71 north past the U.S. 42 exit to the Ohio 73 exit (Exit 45). Turn right, then quickly left onto Ohio 380 North. After 9 miles, turn left onto Roxanna-New Burlington Road. After 2 miles turn left onto Wilson Road, then right onto Pence Jones Road, which ends in the Spring Valley WA parking lot. Look for Ryan in the parking lot which should be pretty empty that time of day.

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