Location & Description
East Fork Wildlife Area is located in southwestern Ohio, on the southeast edge of Williamsburg. Access to the north side of the lake is from State Route 32 between Batavia and Williamsburg. Access to the south side is from State Route 125 near Bantam. The wildlife area may be reached from roads off State Route 133, east of the area, and Old State Route 32 west of Williamsburg. The 2,705-acre wildlife area lies at the northeast edge of William H. Harsha (East Fork) Lake, where the east fork of the Little Miami River flows into the lake. The lake was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, water supply storage, water quality control, and recreation. In summer the lake is normally 2,160 acres. During periods of heavy rainfall, the lake covers portions of the normally dry wildlife area. East Fork State Park lies south and west of the wildlife area on both sides of William H. Harsha (East Fork) Lake. Meadow and grain crops make up about 25 percent of the wildlife area; about 45 percent is woodland and 30 percent is reverting fields of shrubs, small trees, grasses, and forbs. The wildlife area varies from level upland and bottomland fields to gently rolling and steep wooded and reverting hillsides.
History & Purpose
William H. Harsha (East Fork) Lake was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; a partial pool was impounded in 1978. Of the 9,906 acres licensed to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, 2,705 acres are managed by the Division of Wildlife for public hunting and fishing. The remainder of the area is managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation. Wildlife area habitat management work has included development of crop rotations and field sizes to provide food and cover for upland wildlife. Wildlife habitat has been enhanced by establishing field dividers, improving existing fencerows, and protecting and improving woodlands.
Bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbit, white-tailed deer, fox and gray squirrels, and woodchuck are the major game species. Common furbearers are raccoon, opossum, muskrat, mink, weasel, skunk, red fox, and gray fox. Waterfowl are most common during migration and good numbers of wood ducks nest and rear their broods here each spring and summer. A variety of songbirds can be found on the area. Largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, crappies, bluegill, catfish, sunfish, suckers, and carp are found in the lake. The fishery has developed from the resident fish population in the main streams. Hybrid striped bass were stocked in 1983.
East Fork is popular for hunting rabbits, squirrel, and deer. Hunting is best for gray squirrels in the larger stands of mature woodland and for fox squirrels in the smaller woodlots, along the streams, and in woody fencerows. Rabbits and woodchucks are most numerous along fencerows and woodland borders. Deer are found throughout the area. Waterfowl hunting is available on the lake and the streams flowing into the lake. Trapping is productive around pond areas and along the streams running into the lake. Crappies and bluegills are taken around brush and in tops of fallen trees throughout the lake. Largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass are taken along the shoreline, around stumps and logs, and around old road beds. A dog training ground is situated south of Williamsburg-Bantam Road. 2,160-acre William H. Harsha (East Fork) Lake allows unlimited horsepower boating. Six launch ramps provide access to the lake. East Fork Wildlife Area also features designated access roads for Electric Powered All Purpose Vehicle (EPAPV)/Motor Vehicle Use Permit holders. The permit allows use of an EPAPV with a 30 horsepower and/or use of a motor vehicle on designated access roads on specific state wildlife areas for mobility impaired persons.