This IBA encompasses the 63,000-acre Shawnee State Forest and the 1,165-acre Shawnee State Park. Shawnee State Forest is the largest of the twenty state forests in the state and much of the forest is re-growth from the time of 1922 acquisition by the state and management by ODNR Division of Forestry. It is an area of unglaciated hills influenced by the nearby Scioto River with the Ohio River bordering to the south. Visualizing its common name of "Little Smokies" can give one a good idea of the landscape as well as the high level of biodiversity. This forest remains large and relatively unfragmented. Dry ridges are covered with several species of oaks, hickories, and pine. Mid-slope areas support maples, basswood, hackberry, and Ohio buckeye. Yellow poplar, beech, and sugar maple are characteristic of the dark moist hollows. Shawnee State Forest is perhaps the most ecologically significant region in the state with an abundant flora of threatened and endangered plants.
The presence of interior forest birds is a good gauge as to the nature of this forest. Significant species include Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, and Summer Tanager. At least 14 species of warblers breed here and more than 110 species of breeding birds have been recorded.
Logging practices and responses to natural events should be evaluated closely with bird conservation goals in mind.