Conservation Buyers Club

by Matt Lloyd

Two years in the making, it became official last fall. I became a conservation buyer—a club of sorts that I had not previously known about. I am glad I joined.

One becomes a conservation buyer upon acquiring land from The Nature Conservancy. Often, these parcels represent a buffer to a nature preserve or other conservation area. While rich with natural diversity, these properties go up for sale when the Conservancy determines that they will be adequately protected in the hands of a conservation-minded buyer who is dedicated to preserving the land’s natural features while retaining private ownership.

Sawmill Branch Waterfall © Courtesy/Matt Lloyd

In the case of the property I acquired, this was a win-win. Once owned by a University of Kentucky Zoology professor who studied cave beetles, the 30.6-acre property is located on the Dix River, a tributary to the Kentucky River in the state’s Palisades region. The property is also bounded by a creek—Sawmill Branch—and, of course, the cliffs that define this breathtaking part of Kentucky.

Located off the beaten path, the property lies at the end of a cobbled, former stagecoach road. In fact, the property once served as one of only a few river crossings for stagecoaches back in the day. This road can only be accessed from a dirt path that passes through an adjacent farm. While not easy to get to, it’s worth the trip.

Stagecoach Road at the Dix Property © Courtesy/Matt Lloyd

Reaching the property—which I refer to as “my personal campsite”—lands you at some of the best trout fishing on the Dix River. In fact, this stretch of the Dix is designated as a trophy trout stream where only artificial baits are allowed, a distinction appreciated by anglers like myself. It is on this river where I became a fly fisherman thanks to the hospitality of my Centre College economics professor, Harry Landreth, who used to own a house downstream. That is when I fell in love with the area and on more than one occasion thought to myself, “Man it would be cool to have my own spot on this river.”

Now a proud member of the conservation buyers club, I have secured an easement (to be monitored by The Nature Conservancy) that limits commercial development, farming, logging and other uses that are incompatible with the natural features we are aiming to protect through this arrangement. In the future, I have the option to build a home or weekend fishing cabin, clear some land for campsites, build a dock and create a network of trails to better access the many natural features found on the property.

Children explore the Dix property. © Courtesy/Matt Lloyd

Hidden among a patchwork of majestic cliffs and bucolic farms, this property is now forever protected from being extensively developed. Located three hours from my home in Indiana, I plan for it to be a place where my wife and I take our three young sons to connect with nature. It is a section of the Dix River that needed to be owned by someone who appreciates its conservation value. It is also perfectly suited to a fly fisher in search of trout. I am proud to be that person.

Matt Lloyd was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana and graduated from Centre College in 1998 with a degree in Economics. He obtained his law and MBA degrees from Indiana University and is now a practicing attorney at Lloyd Law LLC in Bloomington, where he resides with his wife and three boys. Besides work and the rigors of raising three children, Matt is fully immersed in youth baseball and currently coaches three teams. When time permits, he enjoys the outdoors with his family whether through camping, hunting or pursuing Kentucky trout with a fly rod. 

Support Kentucky nature with a donation today. Want to learn more about becoming a conservation buyer? Contact Dian Osbourne, Director of Protection, at (859) 576-5283 or