Rush Island Bottoms
This site protects what is reputedly the largest spring in the Commonwealth, Gorin Mill Springs, and over a mile of frontage on the Green River. As with the Davis Bend property, this section of the Green River is habitat for several rare mussel species such as fanshell, clubshell, rough pigtoe, northern riffleshell, catspaw, pink mucket, ring pink, and sheepnose. Both Indiana and gray bats are also found here; both are federally listed and threatened by White Nose Syndrome, a fungal infection that is decimating bat populations in the Eastern US. By protecting the land from development and agricultural use, it is also expected that water quality in the greater Mammoth Cave Nation Park and will benefit and therefore improve habitat for the rare Kentucky cave shrimp. In addition to the ecological signifigance of the site, the Battle of Munfordville took place here, an engagement historians have called a strategic high-water mark for the Confederacy in the Western theater of the Civil War. On September 17, 1862, Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner accepted the surrender of Union commander John T. Wilder and open up the road to Louisville for the South. However, instead of capturing Louisville, Buckner’s commander General Braxton Bragg moved his troops to the northeast with plans to combine with General Kirby Smith. Smith had just defeated the Union at the Battle of Richmond and Bragg believed their combined forces were needed to take Central Kentucky. This move resulted in the Battle of Perryville, a Confederate victory over Union Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell on which Bragg was unable to capitalize. Buckner was a native of Hart County and eventually became governor of Kentucky and pall-bearer to President Ulysses S. Grant, due partly to his success in Munfordville. The Civil War Trust, a Washington, DC, based nonprofit, has worked with the Hart County Historical Society to protect an additional 200 acres in the area.
Access: Due to limited access the site is not currently open to the public except by boat. Paddling access is available at Thelma Stovall Park in Munfordville; Rush Island is west of Munfordville.
Davis Bend is one of several sites the KHLCF protects along the Green River in Hart, Green, and Taylor Counties. The highlight for visitors can only be seen while paddling the river – Three Hundred Springs, a cliff covered in maidenhair fern which includes an 85-foot waterfall which empties into the Green River. This section of the Green River is a globally recognized hotspot for mussel diversity. Populations of several rare mussel species may be found here, including fanshell, clubshell, rough pigtoe, northern riffleshell, catspaw, pink mucket, ring pink, and sheepnose. The federally listed Indiana and gray bats are also in the area. By protecting the land from development and agricultural use, it is also expected that water quality in the greater Mammoth Cave Nation Park will benefit and therefore improve habitat for the rare Kentucky cave shrimp.
Access: Due to limited access the site is not currently open to the public except by boat. Paddling access is available at Thelma Stovall Park in Munfordville; Three Hundred Springs is approximate 15 river miles east of Munfordville - please note that Three Hundred Springs is private property so you can enjoy the view from your boat but please do not climb.
The newest unit, added to the Green River State Natural Area in 2018, is less than 0.5 miles upstream from the H.H. Wilson Park Boat Ramp. KNP is in the initial stages of improving habitat for bird species, including the sandhill crane. The long-term goal is to provide hiking trails as well and canoe access.