The Preserve was created on November 27, 2000, when Clark County Fiscal Court purchased 240 acres of land located on both sides of Lower Howard’s Creek immediately upstream from the confluence of the Creek and the Kentucky River.
The purpose of the Preserve is to provide nature education, to preserve endangered and threatened species, and to preserve and interpret an important chapter in the history of Clark County and the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky.
The Preserve consists of 338 acres in Clark County, Kentucky. The site was purchased by the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund and is owned by the Clark County Fiscal Court. This property is home to populations of federally endangered plants, state rare plants and irreplaceable historical and archaeological features. As a result, a 228-acre tract was dedicated as a state nature preserve in 2001. The primary purposes of the Preserve are to protect rare species, protect and interpret historical/archaeological resources, conduct scientific research, protect and restore natural communities, and foster environmental education.
The Preserve is located in a limestone gorge formed by Lower Howard’s Creek, which has been designated as a Kentucky Exceptional Waterway. The deep, twisting gorge is one of the most scenic places in the Bluegrass Region. Lower Howard’s Creek is a unique area due to its geology, biodiversity and cultural resources.
The bedrock is mostly limestone from the Lower and Middle Ordovician period deposited between 450 and 480 million years ago. Two important building stones outcrop along the creek: one is a whitish-colored stone known as “birdseye limestone,” the other is a tan to grayish dolomite called “Kentucky River marble.”
The Preserve, now largely covered by second growth forest, is home to over 200 species of plants. From moist cliff faces to the riparian corridor of the meandering creek, ecological communities teem with diverse plant species that reflect their environmental conditions. Rare plants found in the Preserve include water stitchwort, running buffalo clover, Kentucky viburnum, white walnut and nodding rattlesnake-root. River otter, beaver, deer, coyote, bobcat, gray bat and evening bat have been identified in the Preserve. Fish include rainbow darter, scarlet shiner and logperch.