An open prairie surrounded by thick stands of green trees.
Hazeldell Meadow The Nature Conservancy manages an open prairie and surrounding forest at Hazeldell Meadow. © Mike Wilkinson

Places We Protect

Hazeldell Meadow

Kentucky

Hazeldell Meadow represents the only highland rim wet barrens community in Kentucky.

After acquiring Hazeldell Meadow in 1997, The Nature Conservancy went to work restoring one of Kentucky’s few examples of a highland rim wet barren, a unique type of prairie that boasts characteristics of both a grassland and wetland. Using prescribed burning to keep the habitat open created ideal conditions for rare plants including bushy bluestem and the carnivorous sundew uncommon to Kentucky.

TNC also utilized funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetland Reserve Program to plug a 1,400’ drainage ditch at the property. The action helped to restore a natural hydrology so that these plants could settle in for the long-term.

What’s At Stake

In addition to Kentucky’s only protected highland rim wet barrens natural community. and sundew plant—Kentucky’s only carnivorous plant species—the property hosts several varieties of orchids as well as St. John’s and St. Peter’s worts, beard-grass, hairy water primrose, narrow-leaved sundrops, long-leaved fall-panic grass and Southern big clubmoss. Skinks, salamanders, frogs, several varieties of snakes and a colorful array of birds can also be found here.

Threats

Wetlands such as Hazeldell Meadow are extremely rare. At one time, there might have been thousands of such wet meadows in the state, but most were drained so they could be farmed or developed.

Milestones

TNC purchased the tract in 1997 with the help from generous donations made by Dr. Julian Campbell, Randy Seymour and the East Kentucky Power Cooperative. TNC sold the property to Pulaski County in 2009 with a conservation easement to ensure it would remain permanently protected.

Action

TNC provides technical assistance to Pulaski County on the management of the area and assists with prescribed burning and mowing to maintain this rare, open community type.

Partners

Natural Resources and Conservation Service, Pulaski County Conservation District, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, University of Kentucky, Dr. Julian Campbell, Randy Seymour, Pulaski County, Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund

For many years, visitors had limited access to Hazeldell Meadow due to the fragile nature of the landscape during active restoration. However, in 2009, Pulaski County acquired the property with funds from Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Board. Now an easy trail takes visitors around the meadow where to showcase uncommon plants and a variety of animal species.

Smoke and fire dominate an open prairie, dominated by trees, where conservation professionals implement a burn.
Prescribe Fire Conservation staff from TNC and USFS implement a controlled burn at a prairie in Kentucky. © Mike Wilkinson