The Nature Conservancy's Dupree Nature Preserve represents a shifting landscape in conservation which recognizes that nature sustains not only wildlife, but human beings as well. This thinking led TNC to seek out a place that will make nature more accessible to people residing in urban areas like nearby Lexington.
More and more, research reveals detrimental effects on human health and well-being related to a lack of connecting with nature. For example, Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, argues that lack of time outdoors compromises mental and physical health. Louv’s work is supported by a growing amount of data illustrating that cognitive processes such as planning, memorizing, paying attention and problem solving are impaired when outdoor recreation and exercise is limited.
As a result, with people in mind, TNC has made the Dupree Nature Preserve a showcase for getting people outside in order to deepen their understanding, appreciation and support for Kentucky’s lands and waters. Through hands-on, place-based environmental outreach and education, TNC engages rural and urban, young and old, through an infrastructure and activities that do not exist at any other nature preserve in Kentucky. Along the way, visitors have an opportunity to learn about the important role nature plays in protecting water quality, cleaning the air, and providing recreation opportunities that enhance local communities and economies.
Urban sprawl due to proximity near the U.S. 27 corridor and lower land prices than in areas closer to Lexington.
Secured funding to launch the project from the following resources from the late Tom Dupree, Sr., James Graham Brown, Kentucky River Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, KY, Inc., Ashland Inc., Kentucky American Water, L.G. & E and KU Plant for the Planet, Warren Rosenthal, Garrard County Fiscal Court, Hinkle Family Foundation, Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, Lexmark International, Sterling Ventures, ADEX International, Caldwell Stone, and numerous volunteers and private individuals.
Implement management on-the-ground, including invasive species removal and planting trees in strategic locations. Enhance educational offerings through interpretative materials, signage and educational curriculum for school groups, youth groups and home schooling families visiting the nature preserve. Maintain a safe and engaging infrastructure including a riverside dock, education pavilion and restrooms. Continue to strategize about additional actions to increase visitation, engage youth, recruit volunteers and further promote environmental awareness.