GIFFORD STATE FOREST
GIFFORD STATE FOREST
Bern Township, Ohio 43728
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry welcomes you to the heart of Ohio's hill country. Gifford State Forest is the smallest of Ohio's state forests, at 320 acres, but offers some very pleasant hunting and hiking opportunities in the scenic northern edge of Athens County. This state forest was donated to the state in 1959 by William Gifford Selby under conditions that it be used for experimentation and research. It was named for his mother Virginia Gifford and her family. Today, Gifford State Forest is managed by the Division of Forestry as a seed orchard facility. Treees planted here are genetically superior plants that produce superior seeds which are made readily available to the division's tree nurseries. In turn, the seedlings grown from these seeds are made available to the citizens of Ohio for reforestation on public and private lands. Game animals such as deer, grouse and rabbit, as well as many non-game animals thrive in the area. Hunting these and other game animals is permitted on the forest in season. The forest is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Gifford State Forest is located in Lorain County, Ohio. The history of Gifford State Forest dates back to the early 1930s when it was established as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program during the Great Depression.
The CCC was a public relief program implemented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. It aimed to provide employment opportunities for unemployed young men while also restoring and developing the country's natural resources. As a result, several state forests, including Gifford State Forest, were established across the nation.
The land for Gifford State Forest was acquired in 1933, and work began in collaboration with the CCC. The Civilian Conservation Corps workers, under the supervision of professional foresters, undertook various projects aimed at conserving and improving the forestland. The initial tasks included reforesting the area with tree species like white pine, red pine, and Norway spruce. Additionally, they constructed access roads, bridges, fire lanes, and recreational facilities within the forest.
During this time, the workers also engaged in soil conservation measures by constructing water bars, check dams, and other erosion control structures. These efforts were crucial in protecting the forest and its resources, preventing soil erosion and maintaining water quality.
Gifford State Forest has played an essential role in not only conservation but also education and recreation. The forest has been used for educational programs, research, and environmental studies. Additionally, it provides opportunities for various outdoor activities such as hiking, bird-watching, and hunting.
The forest continues to be managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, ensuring the preservation and sustainable use of its resources.
Hiking Trail, miles4