Buffalo Trace Preserve lies in the Eden Shale Belt of the Bluegrass Region. Scattered along what is believed to be an historical bison trace is the federally endangered Short's goldenrod (Solidago shortii). About 13 populations are located within one mile of Blue Licks Battlefield State Park off of US 68.
The Blue Licks were an important area for buffalo before settlement, and several large traces followed by these animals converged here. Dr. Lucy Braun -- who rediscovered the plant in 1939, a century after Dr. Short first collected it -- speculated that bison may have played a role in the dispersal of the goldenrod and that the distribution may have been correlated with disturbance caused by them.
Due to the sensitivity of the site, the preserve is open to the public only through Conservancy guided hikes.
Short's goldenrod is a rare member of the aster family and is considered endemic to Kentucky. It is known only from about 7 sites within the area of Blue Licks Battlefield State Park. The plants are scattered in openings within a red cedar forest and in nearby old-fields and along roadsides.
A concerted effort by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and The Nature Conservancy protects a great deal of the Short's goldenrod habitat. Several sites have been registered on the Kentucky Natural Areas Registry Program and -- under a voluntary program -- many landowners have agreed to protect the area to the best of their abilities and contact the agencies about threats or intentions to see their property.
While protection efforts are underway, life history and ecological requirements studies need to be completed to determine best management practices for Short's goldenrod. The Conservancy is conducting research on management techniques, especially maintenance through fire management and canopy removal or thinning.