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In a world where dividing and conquering has become the norm, The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky is putting things back together at the Sally Brown, Crutcher and Earl D. Wallace nature preserves, located within the Kentucky River Palisades where steep, 450-million year-old limestone cliffs capture the hearts of many who visit.
This is what happened to Sally Brown, who upon visiting this unique landscape doggedly raised money to help the Conservancy secure a narrow stretch of habitat winding along the banks of Bowmans Bend on the Kentucky River. Her efforts led to the establishment of the 632-acre Sally Brown Preserve in 1997, the first of this collection of natural areas.
Sally Brown’s actions inspired Dr. and Mrs. Richard Crutcher to do the same. In honor of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1999, these long-time members worked with the Conservancy to purchase additional land adjacent to the Sally Brown Preserve to establish the 127-acre Crutcher Preserve. Complementing these preserves is an 8-acre tract of river cliff donated by Mrs. Betty Tenney in memory of her father and local businessman Earl D. Wallace, who founded and presided over restoring the nearby historic Shakertown Village. Over time, the Conservancy has also secured conservation easements for hundreds of additional acres to buffer the Sally Brown, Crutcher and Earl D. Wallace preserves.
Thanks to the creative vision and generous contributions of these Kentuckians, the Conservancy safeguards a natural corridor that includes more than six miles of river frontage stretching up the Kentucky River from its confluence with the Dix River.
The Sally Brown Preserve is 632 acres, the Crutcher Preserve is 127 acres and the Wallace Preserve is 8 acres. Conservation buyer lands total 540 acres and conservation easements held by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program total 805 acres.
What’s At Stake
The Sally Brown, Crutcher and Earl D. Wallace nature preserves boast the Bluegrass region’s most unusual habitats. Rocky riverbanks, bluff-top ridges and old sandy river terraces harbor large concentrations of rare plant species, including Kentucky viburnum and purple melic grass. Steep limestone cliffs and river bottomland create a unique biological and geological environment which attracts rare and endangered plants and animals.
The preserves and broader Palisades area are home to at least 25 mammal species and 35 reptile species. Two endangered bats – the Gray bat and Indiana bat utilize large, unfragmented forested corridors as a source of insects.
Blue ash, chinquapin oak and sugar maple can be found on the steep limestone slopes, along with less common trees like Rock elm, yellow-wood and yellow buckeye. More acidic soils on old sandy river terraces and bluff-top ridges harbor beech, tulip poplar and oak/hickory forest types more common in Appalachian Kentucky.
Wildflowers are also abundant in the Palisades region, including Virginia bluebells, blue-eyed Mary’s, fringed phacelia and trilliums.
Incompatible residential development and agriculture practices, which affects water quality of the Kentucky River, creeks and wet weather streams, and fragments forest habitat within the Palisades area. Aggressive non-native invasive plants such as bush honeysuckles and garlic mustard.
The Conservancy acquired the land comprising the Sally Brown Preserve in 1997 thanks to a 2:1 challenge grant provided by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and met by donations from Mrs. W.L. Lyons (Sally) Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Alan M. Bond and the W.L. Lyons Brown Foundation. In 1999, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Crutcher donated an adjacent property to create the Crutcher Preserve. In 2000, the Conservancy bought and resold, with conservation easements in place, hundreds of acres of agricultural land as a buffer to the preserves and in 2001, added the 8-acre Earl D. Wallace Preserve thanks to a gift from his daughter, Mrs. Betty Tenney.
In 2012, the Conservancy used a specially-designed bush hog to chop down several acres of invasive honeysuckle, an aggressive shrub which can repress native species and limit the diversity of wildlife habitat. The site will be seeded with annual rye and planted with rough-leafed dogwoods. Resprouting honeysuckle will be treated.
Throughout the year, the Conservancy maintains trails for public access while aggressively managing more fragile areas of these preserves. We also implement educational outreach.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Bluegrass Sportsman’s League, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky River Authority, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky Division of Conservation – Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) Program, Jessamine County Government
Take a hike. The preserves include two loop hiking trails of about 3 miles each. One leads to the river and the other includes a walk along a beautiful creek complete with mill stones. Both trails are well marked, involve changes in elevation, and offer great views of the river and the limestone cliffs. Prime hiking times include the spring wildflower season, the changing of the leaves in fall, and winter when the absence of leaves makes the geology of the preserves even more apparent.
Visitors to the Palisades area can also explore the landscape further at the Nature Preserve at Shaker Village’s 40-mile trail system and the Conservancy’s Jim Beam Nature Preserve in Jessamine County.
Explore the river Cruise the Kentucky River Palisades aboard the Dixie Belle, Shaker Village's 115-passenger riverboat. One-hour narrated cruises travel along a scenic stretch of river with high limestone cliffs and untouched natural beauty while guests learn about the river's diverse ecosystem and the historical importance.
Volunteer! One of the best ways to explore these preserves is as a volunteer.
The preserves are open to the public all year from sunrise to sunset for low impact activities like hiking, photography and bird watching. In order to protect unique habitats, visitors should stay on designated trails at all times.
Travel south on Nicholasville Road (U.S. 27) from Lexington; proceed 19.2 miles from the intersection of Nicholasville Road and New Circle Road; turn right onto KY 1845 after crossing over the Kentucky River; travel on KY 1845 for 3.4 miles to Camp Dick Fire Station; turn left and travel 0.2 miles; turn right onto High Bridge Road; go 2.0 miles and turn right onto Bowman's Bend Road. Please use caution on this narrow road. Travel 1.5 miles to the Sally Brown Nature Preserve parking lot on the right. Follow the Sally Brown trail from the parking lot to the kiosk and the Crutcher trail will be to the right off the main trail. Note: There are no hiking trails at the Earl D. Wallace Preserve.
Take I-64 E towards Lexington. Travel approximately 41.8 miles. Take exit 48 for KY-151 S toward US-127 S / Lawrenceburg / Graefenburg. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Lawrenceburg and merge onto KY-151 S. Travel 6.7 miles. Turn right onto US-127 S / US-127 Bypass S / Old Frankfort Rd. Continue to follow US-127 S. Travel 20.3 miles. Turn left onto US-127 Bypass S. Travel 2.5 miles. Turn left onto KY-152 E/ Burgin Rd. Continue to follow KY-152 E. Travel 7.3 miles. Turn left onto High Bridge Rd. Go 2.0 miles and turn right onto Bowman's Bend Road. Please use caution on this narrow road. Travel 1.5 miles to the Sally Brown Nature Preserve parking lot on the right. Follow the Sally Brown trail from the parking lot to the kiosk and the Crutcher trail will be to the right off the main trail. Note: There are no hiking trails at the Earl D. Wallace Preserve
From Southern Kentucky (Somerset)
Travel on US-27 N, approximately 48.1 miles from Somerset. Turn left onto Ballard Rd. If you cross the Kentucky River, you've gone too far. Travel on Ballard Rd / KY 1845 for 3.4 miles to the Camp Dick Fire Station. Turn left and travel 0.2 miles. Turn right onto High Bridge Road. Go 2.0 miles and turn right onto Bowman's Bend Road. Please use caution on this narrow road. Travel 1.5 miles to the Sally Brown Nature Preserve parking log on the right. Follow the Sally Brown trail from the parking lot to the kiosk and the Crutcher trail will be to the right off the main trail. Note: There are no hiking trails at the Earl D. Wallace Preserve.
From Western Kentucky (Paducah)
Take I-24 E approximately 24.9 miles to exit 42 toward Princeton / Elizabethtown. Merge onto I-69. Travel 38.2 miles. Continue onto KY-9001E / Hwy 9001 E / Rte 9001 E / State 9001 E/ State Hwy 9001 E/ Wendell H Ford Western Kentucky Parkway. Travel for 98.4 miles. Take exit 137B to merge onto I-65 N toward Lexington / Louisville. Travel 2.3 miles. Take exit 93 for the Blue Grass Parkway toward Bardstown / Lexington. Merge onto KY-9002 E. Travel for 58.1 miles. Take exit 59A for US-127 S toward Harrodsburg / Danville. Turn right onto Kentucky 513 E / US-127. Continue to follow US-127. Travel 12.9 miles. Turn left onto US-127 Bypass S. Travel 2.5 miles. Turn left onto KY-152 E / Burgin Rd. Continue to follow KY-152 E. Travel 7.3 mils. Turn right onto KY-152 E/ Kennedy Bridge Rd. Travel 3 miles. Turn left onto High Bridge Road. Go 2.0 miles and turn right onto Bowman's Bend Road. Please use caution on this narrow road. Travel 1.5 miles to the Sally Brown Nature Preserve parking lot on the right. Follow the Sally Brown trail from the parking lot to the kiosk and the Crutcher trail will be to the right off the main trail. Note: There is no hiking trails at the Earl D. Wallace Preserve.