Most Conservancy volunteers like a good walk in the woods. But few hikes have an outcome like one taken by Ken and Vicki Brooks more than a decade ago at the Sally Brown Nature Preserve.
“In a sense, we never left,” says Ken Brooks, PhD, a semi-retired planning consultant and educator.
Ken and Vicki, long-time Lexington residents and Conservancy volunteers, felt the call of the wildflowers not long after learning about the Sally Brown Nature Preserve. After taking the 45-minute drive, they weren’t disappointed by this long stretch of river frontage hugging the Kentucky River’s limestone cliffs in the state’s Palisades region. What wasn’t expected was the “for sale” sign outside of an old farmhouse that caught their eye upon exiting the preserve.
“We called on a lark, but were deterred by the property’s size – 300 acres,” shares Brooks.
However, they learned that The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky had expressed an interest in the farm. The Conservancy confirmed the fact, and then presented Ken and Vicki with the proposition of purchasing a portion of the farm after conservation easements were put in place. After some soul searching, Ken and Vicki took ownership of 50 acres with legally binding agreements limiting the type of development that may take place on their property in the future. They were more than happy to oblige. Two families joined them in the adventure and took up the rest of the land.
Today Ken and Vicki savor their property, which serves as an important buffer for the preserve. Now almost retired, they spend more and more time clearing trails, removing non-native weeds and making general improvements at Sally Brown. They also bring in extra elbow grease from local Girl and Boy Scout troops, and other volunteers, on a regular basis.
Adds Brooks, “It wasn’t in the grand plan, but we’ve never looked back and have no regrets.”