Kentucky

Davis Bend Nature Preserve


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.

Currently the nature preserve features wooded areas intertwined with former agricultural fields that have been restored to a diverse blend of native grasses and wildflowers. Relics of human history - an old barn, a farmhouse and a Civil War era family cemetery - blend easily into the natural landscape. The unique flora, fauna, geology and cultural characteristics of the Upper Green River region are well represented at the Davis Bend Nature Preserve.

Location: Located in Hart County - in the heart of the Conservancy’s highest-priority portion of the Green River basin - which includes the upper Green River, its tributaries and portions of Mammoth Cave National Park.

Size: 266 acres; 166 acres 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, dry uplands, a sinkhole pond, and countless sinkholes and springs that are important to the water quality of the Green River. These unique  features, habitat diversity and geographic location combine to make this one of North America’s centers for endemism and biodiversity. On land, this includes an abundance of wild turkey, white-tailed deer, rabbits and bob-white quail. Under water, the nature preserve helps to safeguard more than 70 species of freshwater mussels, 150 species of fish, 42 species of troglobites and endemic species like the bottlebrush crayfish. 

Risks to be Managed: Sediment from agricultural activity near erosion-prone areas represents the greatest risk to the health of the Green River. Naturally vegetated buffers alongside the river that are insufficient in size and rainfall runoff through karst groundwater sources can lead to unwanted inputs into the river in the form of excess fertilizer, chemical residues and animal waste. These undesirable contaminants can damage fish and mussel habitat and may cause the loss of valuable farm soils.

Milestones: The Conservancy bought the original tracts–-the B.J. and W.O. Buckner tracts–- comprising the Davis Bend Nature Preserve in 2000, and purchased additional property, the Reece tract, in 2002. In 2011, the Conservancy completed a master plan for the nature preserve.

Action: The Conservancy is working with private landowners throughout this stretch of the river to increase the number of river miles that are permanently conserved and restored to native vegetation, including hardwood trees, native grasses and wildflowers. At the Davis Bend Nature Preserve, work to replant the bottomland areas to native hardwoods is ongoing. In upland portions, careful application of prescribed fire is enabling native grass and wildflower plantings to thrive, which is providing high quality habitat for many birds, mammals and pollinator species.

Partners: Kentucky Wild Rivers Program

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