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1,127 acres conserved in Hancock and Bullitt counties

Bernheim Forest’s visitors center

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves’ Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund (KHLCF) program conserved over 1,000 acres of forest in October for both habitat and hiking. The Jeffrey’s Cliff Natural Area was created in Hancock County, along with additions to both Knobs State Forest and the neighboring Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Bullitt County.

The 494-acre addition to Bernheim Forest and the 496-acre addition to Knobs State Forest are part of an effort to create a wildlife corridor linking the nearby Apple Valley Glades State Nature Preserve, Bernheim Forest, Knobs State Forest, Fort Knox, and other natural areas. These Bullitt County natural areas also have restoration potential for Kentucky gladecress, an endemic federally endangered plant found at Apple Valley. The Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to recover this species and eventually remove it from the endangered species list.

Bernheim Forest is Kentucky’s largest private nonprofit conservation area, and has been open to the public for environmental education since the 1950s. Knobs State Forest is managed by the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

The 137-acre Jeffrey’s Cliff will conserve several rare species and ecological communities on a sandstone cliff system that is unusual in Western Kentucky. Another 140 acres will be added to the area within the next year. Approximately four miles of hiking trails are planned for the site, which will be managed by Hancock County Fiscal Court under a KHLCF Board-approved management plan. This is the first project in Hancock County for the KHLCF, which has now conserved natural areas in 73 counties.

The KHLCF funded all of the Jeffry’s Cliff and Knobs State Forest projects, and half of the Bernheim Forest project. Additional funding for Bernheim Forest was provided by the Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund. As a result of these projects, the KHLCF Board now holds conservation easements on the Jeffry’s Cliff and Bernheim Forest tracts and a deed restriction on Knobs State Forest, to ensure they are managed for conservation purposes.

Zeb Weese, executive director of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves, said “these natural areas are great examples of compatible habitat conservation and ecotourism. Not only does each provide important places for Kentucky’s native wildlife and plants to thrive, but also scenic places to hike and enjoy nature, which plays an increasingly important part in Kentucky’s quality-of-life and $12-billion outdoor recreation economy.”

The KHLCF is funded in part by the sale of “Nature’s Finest” license plates, allowing citizens to voluntarily contribute to the management and conservation of natural areas. For more information on the KHLCF and other natural areas programs of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves, please visit http://naturepreserves.ky.gov.