The Davis Bend Nature Preserve – A Diamond in the Rough

Written By: Mike Hensley, Green River Project Director

Diamond in the Rough.  It’s a great way to describe the Conservancy’s Davis Bend Preserve in Hart County, Kentucky.   Boasting over a mile of frontage along the south bank of the Green River, this 275 acre property consists of a mix of moist bottomlands and relatively dry uplands.  Within this area, wooded areas intersect with old agricultural fields and relics of the human history of this place…old barns, a two-story farmhouse, a Civil War era family cemetery.  A landmark along this stretch of the Green River (the 300 Springs waterfalls) is close-by. 

Davis Bend Nature Preserve Entrance

The Davis Bend Preserve will become the Conservancy’s base of operations for our Green River project area.  In time, the property will come alive with new activity; a historic barn will be converted into an outdoor classroom…fields that once grew corn and soybeans will undergo intense restoration work as they are transformed into examples of what native prairies in this area once looked like…bottomland fields that were timbered out many decades ago will be planted to native trees once again. 

Arboretum Field, Davis Bend Nature Preserve

My own work here over the past year has begun to lay the groundwork for these actions.  A small two-acre field that may have been used for cattle grazing in the past has been prepped for the planting of a wide-variety of native trees, with the idea that visitors will be able to visit this area to see how native Kentucky trees may be used in their own landscaping.  Much work has been done to reduce unwanted vegetation around some of the historic buildings that are found on the property.  The framework for a future trail system has been created using a tractor, bush-hog, and a lot of volunteer help! 

Mike Hensley Hard at Work at the Davis Bend Nature Preserve

Beginning as early as September 2011, work will begin on restoring approximately 40 acres of old upland agricultural fields with native seed blends that will include many species of grasses, wildflowers, and forbs. 

It’s definitely an exciting time at the Davis Bend Nature Preserve.  If you are interested in learning more about this project, including ways you can help, contact The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky at kentucky@tnc.org.