Since early settlement more than 200 years ago, almost all of Kentucky’s natural landscape has been altered or severely impacted. Only a small portion of the landscape appears as it did when the first explorers arrived. Over the years, logging, clearing, grazing, farming, surface mining, channelization and damming of streams and rivers, drainage of wetlands, road construction and urban development have all but eradicated Kentucky’s rich natural heritage.
The Sunset Barrens Preserve, also known as Macy Highway Barrens, represents one of the few remaining natural areas that have escaped destruction. The site was discovered by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, which is mandated to inventory the Commonwealth for the best remaining natural areas and establish a system of nature preserves to protect these remnants.
Only systematic and thorough surveys can guarantee the protection of Kentucky’s remaining natural areas before they are destroyed and lost forever. The area comprising the Sunset Barrens Preserve fit the bill due to the presence of sandstone barrens and glades, habitat that is likely to harbor an array of rare or endangered plants or animals. Due to the sensitivity of this rare ecosystem type, the preserve is not open to the public.
Approximately nine miles north of Bowling Green in Warren County.
What’s At Stake
Excellent example of sandstone glades and barrens in western Kentucky. The large sandstone exposures on upper slopes have mats of lichens and mosses with typical vascular plants like rush-foil and knotweed. The surrounding barrens and dry forest are dominated by post oak, black-jack oak, black oak and white oak with a grassy ground cover in places.
Woody encroachment and succession of openings due to lack of fire; native (cedar, redbud) and exotic invasive species (vine and bush honey-suckles, fescue); home development leading to altered hydrology.
Based on information provided by the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, the Conservancy acquired this tract from Charles L. Clark in 1990 and remarked the boundary in 2011.
Key objectives include protecting the high-quality sandstone barrens/glade complex, maintaining vegetation from woody encroachment and invasive species, and initiating fire management on the site.
Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission