Located in rural central Kentucky, the Davis Bend Nature Preserve protects more than a mile of beautiful frontage along the south bank of the Green River. Although the Conservancy has owned property here since 2000, it has only recently begun polishing up this “diamond in the rough.”
Together with partner organization, the Kentucky Wild Rivers Program, the Conservancy has initiated the development of a new Conservation Center that establishes the Davis Bend Nature Preserve as a base of operations for conservation throughout the Green River project area and destination for nature-lovers everywhere.
While work only began in 2011, over time the property will showcase best practices in agriculture, forestry, native plantings and sustainability while welcoming visitors seeking to study and experience the unique flora, fauna, geology and cultural elements of this spectacular area. Currently the preserve features wooded areas interspersed with old agricultural fields and relics of human history – old barns, a farmhouse and a Civil War era family cemetery. As the Conservation Center takes shape, visitors will witness a historic barn converted into an outdoor classroom, fields transformed into native prairies and forests, and structures reborn as exhibits.
The Conservancy intends to manage the preserve cooperatively with the Kentucky Wild Rivers Program.
Location: Hart County in central Kentucky, along the Green River
Size: 276 acres; 166 acres are owned by Kentucky Wild Rivers Program and 100 acres owned by The Nature Conservancy
What’s At Stake:
The Davis Bend Nature Preserve contains a mix of moist bottomlands, relatively dry uplands, a sinkhole pond, two sinkholes and springs that are important to the water quality of the Green River.
The property is located in the heart of the Green River Conservation Area which includes the upper Green River, its tributaries and portions of Mammoth Cave National Park. Unique landscape features, habitat diversity and geographic location combining to make this one of North America’s centers for endemism and biodiversity. This includes over 70 species of freshwater mussels , 150 species of fish, 42 species of troglobites and endemic species like the bottlebrush crayfish.
On land, an abundance of wild turkey, white-tailed deer, rabbits and bob-white quail inhabit the preserve.
Threats: Sediment from agricultural activity near erosion-prone areas represents the greatest threat to the health of the Green River. Unwanted inputs such as excess fertilizer, chemical residues and animal waste can easily reach the river via rainfall runoff through karst groundwater sources and damage important fish and mussel habitat.
Milestones: The Conservancy bought the original tracts comprising the Davis Bend Preserve – the B.J. and W.O. Buckner tracts – in 2000. It purchased additional property, the Reece tract, in 2002. In 2011, the Conservancy completed a master plan for the preserve and a new Green River Conservation Center.
Action: The Conservancy is advancing efforts to establish a Conservation Center at the Davis Bend Nature Preserve. Work has begun on restoring old upland agricultural fields with native seed blends that include many species of grasses, wildflowers and forbs. The Conservancy will also assist in restoring bottomland areas with native trees.
Partners: Kentucky Wild Rivers Program