These non-adjoining properties in the northwestern corner of Livingston County provide habitats ranging from mature oak forest, to cypress swamps, and steep forested bluffs. The sites include Bissel Bluff and Newman’s Bluff Nature Preserves as well as the Wildlife Management Area tracts. Part of the wildlife management area adjoins Mantle Rock, an important site not only biologically, but also culturally and archeologically as part of the "Trail of Tears." The original properties were purchased by Livingston County and they are jointly managed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the KNP, along with Livingston County. One of the locations has almost 400' limestone bluffs overlooking a forested valley. There is a stream fed lake at the base of the valley adjacent to the parking area. The majority forest type on this tract is dry to mesic upland acidic forest on southern and west facing upper and mid slopes. The canopy is dominated by white, black, post and southern red oak and pignut hickory. The understory has hop hornbeam, flowering dogwood, Juneberry, and farkleberry. There are small glade like openings interspersed throughout the forest with a more open canopy with scattered black jack and post oak and farkleberry and typical flowers including goat’s rue, Bradbury's bee balm, hairy skullcap, three lobed violet, flax, dwarf blazing star, orange grass and poverty grass. On top of the bluffs are sandstone cliffs and detached boulders with white, black, and post oak, winged elm, red cedar and pignut hickory and a ground layer of poverty oak grass, prickly pear cactus, dittany, and various ferns including marginal shield fern, polpody fern,and pinnatifid spleenwort. There is a small amount of calcareous forest dominated by chinquapin, Shumard's, and red oak, sugar maple, and white ash on more mesic sites whereas upland forests are dominated by chinquapin and post oak, red bud, hop hornbeam, and rusty black haw. Along the stream the forests are dominated by sycamore, sugar maple, chinquapin oak, sweet gum, shagbark hickory, black cherry, and black walnut, with giant cane, spicebush wood mint, and honeywort in the understory.
At another location, high limestone and sandstone bluffs overlook mostly second growth forest above Bissell Creek and it is more diverse biologically although some of the habitats are similar. For example, there are dry to moist acidic forests dominated by the same species and the species found along the sandstone cliffs are similar. The herb layer in these forests have greater diversity of species including shooting star, upland boneset, smooth wild licorice, shining bedstraw, woodland sunflower, dwarf dandelion, violet bush clover, wild yam, violet wood sorrel, Virginia creeper, dittany, elm-leaf goldenrod, small-lowered buttercup and summer grape. There is one small glade like opening dominated by farkleberry, Indiangrass, little bluestem, big bluestem, purple daisy, goat’s rue and bird’s foot violet. In addition to the dry acidic forests there are also mesic acidic forests dominated by northern red, white oak, sugar maple, American beech and tulip tree. The more level terrain houses black walnut, sweet gum, bitternut hickory, and sycamore. The other dominant forest type found at this location is the cry to mesic calcareous upland forest dominated by chinquapin, Shumard's, and white oak, white ash, sugar maple, pignut and shagbark hickory with a diverse herb layer of Canadian milk vetch, horse mint, goldenseal, southern buckthorn, pale indian plantain, pink thoroughwort, crested coralroot orchid, green violet, American columbo, small horse gentian, and several sedges. Floodplain forest dominated by silver maple, box elder, sycamore, and sweet gum grading into pin, cherrybark, and swamp chestnut oak, kingnut and bitternut hickory, sweet gum, American elm, and green ash with an understory of giant cane, beggar’s tick, false nettle, cupseed, sedges, spider lily, Indian pink, few-flowered tick trefoil and a rare vine (Cayaponia), which was discovered during the inventory process, dominates the plant community. The stream ultimately flows into a cypress swamp and associated forest dominated by cypress in permanent water and pecan, overcup and pin oak, bald cypress, swamp privet, American snowbell, buttonwush, bracted water willow, rice cut grass, buckwheat vine, large buttonweed, and climbing dogbane in more seasonally flooded forest. The final tract is a mostly forested tract dominated by acidic dry to moist forest with a substantial amount of mature to approaching old growth white oak. More than 500 species of plants have been documented on these properties including the state including Price's potato bean, a federally threatened species, state endangered eastern blue star and five lobed cucumber, stalked wild petunia, state threatened Appalachian bugbane, and special concern Buckley's goldenrod.
Livingston County Fiscal Court was awarded a KHLCF Stewardship Award in 2012 for their management of these sites.
Open daily dawn to dusk for hunting, fishing in pond, wildlife viewing, photography, hiking via foot traffic only. No ATV, off-road vehicles or mountain bikes are allowed. Parking areas are located off KY Highway 1436 and Good Hope Cemetery road off of KY highway 1433.
Newman's Bluff State Nature Preserve
Dedicated into the preserve system on Dec. 8, 2004, the Livingston County Fiscal Court agreed to dedicate the 169-acre property that is part of the larger KHLCF tract they own along Sugarcamp Creek and Newman’s Bluff. The tract protects Price’s potato bean (Apios priceana), a federally threatened species, as well as habitat along the forested slope of Newman’s Bluff and the creek. The area is open for hiking, nature study and wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing in accordance with regulations established by KDFWR.
Bissell Bluff State Nature Preserve
Dedicated into the preserve system on Dec. 8, 2004,
this property is not contiguous with the Newman's Bluff track, but is along the
Cumberland River. It contains at least
seven natural communities, including steep forested bluffs on both
limestone and sandstone, mesic ravine forest, bottomland hardwood
forest, bald cypress slough and riparian forest. Although most of the
forested areas are second growth, a small area of very mature mesic
forest occurs in one of the ravines within the site, and a portion of
the bottomland hardwood forest is also quite mature. A great blue heron
(Ardea herodias) rookery is located within the bottomlands along Bissell
Creek, which is a slow, meandering tributary of the lower Cumberland
River. Once facilities are completed, the area will be open for hiking,
nature study and wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and
fishing in accordance with regulations established by KDFWR.