The Arc of Appalachia isn’t a government park, and it’s not run by professionals, but it’s one of the more ambitious land-preservation efforts of recent years. Nancy Stranahan and Larry Henry had worked in the Ohio state parks system before starting a bakery in the 1980s after tiring of bureaucracy. Their love of nature led them to start buying abandoned land in Ohio to “re-wild” it. They opened their first park, Highlands Nature Sanctuary, in 1995. By 2004 they had sold their bakery to focus on managing 38 pieces of land, totaling 1,600 acres, that they had acquired with support from individual givers and foundations. They let native deciduous forests re-grow on the acreage, and built visitor centers from which the public could enjoy the forests. By 2014, their Arc of Appalachia nonprofit had raised over $10 million, 75 percent from individuals and the rest from foundation grants, and was operating 14 nature preserves across Ohio supported entirely by donations.
- Arc of Appalachia Preserves, arcofappalachia.org/arc/what-we-do.html