Situated along Jessamine Creek the Inner Bluegrass Region, Jessamine Creek Gorge offers a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna. The preserve, located in southwestern Jessamine County, lies in a beautifully wild and largely inaccessible valley.
The creek terminates at the Palisades of the Kentucky River, in Jessamine County.
Due to the sensitivity of the site and the lack of access, the preserve is not open to the public.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Jessamine Creek Gorge is the highest quality gorge in the region and hosts significant numbers of rare species remaining in the Bluegrass. Natural communities here include fairly mature second-growth forests, grassy cliff tops, waterfalls, cliffs, caves, seeps and upland stream habitats. In all, seven endangered or threatened plants and two federally endangered bat species have been recorded here.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Protection of the entire watershed is imperative for the preservation of foraging areas crucial to the bats. The Conservancy helped the Jessamine County Parks and Recreation take ownership of 171 acres of land along the gorge. The county plans to develop the gorge as a preserve with hiking trails.
The goal for this site is to maintain and monitor the populations of endangered species and the natural quality of the forested ravine. Threats include trash dumping, roads and upstream agriculture.
Plants Found at the Preserve
The site contains more than 400 vascular plant species -- the result and hallmark of the area's diverse topography and relatively undisturbed forest. The dominant tree species are:
- chinquapin oak (Quercus muhlenbergii)
- shumard oak (Quercus shumardii)
- sugar maple (Acer saccarum)
- American beech (Fagus grandifolia)
- sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis)
Of special significance is the state endangered snow trillium (Trillium nivale) and mountain lover (Pachistima canbyi), as well as the state threatened water stitchwort (Arenaria fontinalis).
Animals Found at the Preserve
The gorge's two caves harbor a Gray bat (Myotis grisescens) maternity site and an Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) hibernaculum, both federally listed and endangered species. Since entry to the caves during hibernation or maternity could be devastating, they are carefully protected.