The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund purchased 534 acres of a total of 2620 acres in two tracts.
This management area is border by the Kentucky River and is reverting farmland, pastures, and woodland. The total property is 76% forested and 22% open land with wetland making up the remaining habitat types. The land purchased with Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation funds is approximately 28% forested with riparian forest and bottomland hardwood forest in the low lying areas and calcareous mesophytic forest on the uplands. There is one open marsh dominated by marsh cut grass, common rush, Carolina willow and Uruguayan water primrose. The Riparian forests are dominated by silver maple, black walnut, sycamore, box elder, hydrangea and coralberry, marsh blue violet, stinging nettle, stream bank wild rye, wild oats, poison-ivy, and hog-peanut. The bottomland forest is made up of American elm, box elder, sliver maple and lizard tail which is somewhat rare in the Bluegrass Region. The upland calcareous forests are dominated by sugar maple, yellow oak, mockernut hickory, and northern hackberry. The understory has been heavily grazed and is dominated by exotic organisms including garlic mustard, henbit and chickweed. The woodlands have been invaded by bush honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, privet, and Japanese stilt grass. The open fields are reverting agricultural land and poison hemlock, nodding thistle, bull thistle, amaranth, burdock, fescue and johnsongrass and Japanese hops are some of the dominant species. No rare species have been found although northern leopard frogs, which are uncommon, have been found breeding here. More than 226 plant species, 40 fish, 88 birds, 12 mammals, 17 amphibians, and 12 reptiles have been documented on this management area. The Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is working on converting the old fescue fields to native warm season grasses and expanding the riparian forests by planting trees. Several sunflower fields are located on the area to promote dove hunting.
Open to the public daily according to statewide wildlife management area regulations. Public hunting is available under statewide regulations for all hunting and trapping seasons, except no firearms are permitted for deer hunting. To get to the Welch bottomland tract that is disabled accessible, travel one mile southwest of Gest on KY 561. Look for the parking area on the east side of the road. To get to the Owen county tract, go one mile south of Gratz on Brown’s Bottom Road and look for the parking area on the left side of the road. Please visit the Kentucky Department of fish and Wildlife Resources website for maps and more information.