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​​Q: How much land is part of KNP programs?
A: As of July 1, 2022, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves programs include:

· 19,880 acres owned by KNP in 39 State Nature Preserves,
· 8,090 acres owned by KNP in 13 State Natural Areas,
· 7,140 acres dedicated by KNP in 18 State Nature Preserves owned by partnering agencies,
· 13,710 ac​res of conservation easements owned by local concerns in 61 KHLCF natural areas,​ ​
·​ ​71,600 acres of deed restrictions owned by other state agencies in 26 KHLCF natural areas​,
· 9,220 acres owned by private landowners and other agencies in 77 Registered Natural Areas,
· 26,960 acres owned by private landowners and other agencies in 9 Wild Rivers Corridors.

At any given time the KHLCF Board is working on 20 to 30 additional projects.

Q: What is a State Nature Preserve?

A: A state nature preserve (SNP) is a legally dedicated area that has been recognized for its natural significance and protected by law for scientific and educational purposes. Dedicated state nature preserves are established solely to protect and preserve rare species, the natural environment, or exceptional natural scenery or environmental education opportunities. They include some of Kentucky's most popular and scenic State Parks, including Natural Bridge and Cumberland Falls
Public hiking trails are available when ecologically appropriate, but they are closely regulated to protect the natural integrity of the preserve so that it may be passed on unimpaired to future generations. Some preserves are only open for scientific research at this time.
Q: What is a State Natural Area?

A: Natural areas have a greater emphasis on hiking, paddling, environmental education, and restoration than nature preserves. Typically, their habitats are not as sensitive. Some are managed in cooperation with the Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife to allow hunting. For details, see the individual area pages on our Locations page.

Q: What is a Heritage Land?

A: A Heritage Land is a natural area funded by the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Board.  KNP monitors conservation easements or deed restrictions on these sites and works with our partnering agencies to ensure they are managed appropriately for hiking, paddling, and habitat conservation. For more information, please visit the KHLCF page.

Q: What is a Wild River?

A: Kentucky has nine legally designated Wild Rivers that conserve the Commonwealth's most pristine waterways for habitat and recreation.  KNP monitors those Wild River Corridors to ensure they remain healthy ecosystems. Most of the land surrounding the Wild Rivers is privately owned; please remember to always respect private property rights and only access rivers from legal boat ramps and access points. For more information, please visit the Conserving Natural Areas page.

Q: Does KNP hold any conservation easements on privately owned property?

A: Very few, but we no longer enroll new properties. In the past, KNP has accepted several conservation easements from private landowners who agreed to put permanent deed restrictions on their properties to preclude development or other activities that would harm or impair the land’s natural condition, particularly to protect endangered species populations.

The KHLCF Board holds conservation easements on over 50 properties owned by local governments and conservation nonprofits, but private landowners are not eligible for KHLCF programs. If you are a private landowner interested in conservation easements, a good place to start is the  Kentucky Land Trust Coalition.

Q: When are the trails open?

A: The majority of KNP trails are open to the public throughout the year from sunrise to sunset for passive recreation such as hiking, birding, photography and nature study. Some nature preserves are open for scientific research only. Please visit the Locations page for details such as public access, natural features and directions.

Q: Are the trails open for horse back riding or bike riding?

A: Trails on are open to foot traffic only.  Horseback riding and bike riding are not permitted because of their impacts to the trails and natural features of the preserves. Rock climbing, rappelling and motorized vehicles (ATV's) are also prohibited.

Q: Are there picnic facilities or campgrounds?

A: To ensure the natural beauty of each nature preserve and to promote visitor safety and enjoyment, picnicking and camping as well as building fires and audio equipment are not allowed on state nature preserves. Please carry out anything that you bring in to the preserve. The primary function of a nature preserve is to protect rare biological resources and natural communities. For this reason, only passive recreation is appropriate on a state nature preserve.
However, many KHLCF natural areas do have picnic areas. Please visit the Locations page for links to a KHLCF area near you and to contact the managing agency.
Q: Can I bring my dog?

A: To ensure that native wildlife is not disturbed and to promote visitor safety and enjoyment, no pets are allowed on state nature preserves.  However, some KHLCF natural areas do allow pets. Please visit the Locations page to find a KHLCF area near you and to contact the managing agency regarding pets.

Q: What are the rules?

A: Please see the sidebar to the right of this page for rules on KNP State Nature Preserves. For rules on other KHLCF natural areas, please visit the Locations page for links to a specific KHLCF area and to contact the managing agency regarding rules.

Rules for KNP State Nature Preserves

By observing these rules you will be helping to protect Kentucky's natural heritage. 
  • Preserves are open sunrise to sunset. 
  • Trails are open to foot traffic only. The established trail system provides you with the safest and best way to travel through the preserve.  Visitors must not re-route or shortcut the existing trail system. 
  • Horses, bicycles, climbing and rappelling are not permitted because of their destructive impacts to the trails and natural features. 
  • Electronic sources of noise such as drones, music devices, or speaker phones are not permitted.
  • Motorized vehicles are not permitted. 
  • Possession of drugs or alcohol is prohibited.  
  • Collecting plants, animals, rocks, artifacts or wood reduces those things that are needed to maintain nature’s delicate balance. Therefore, collecting, hunting and trapping are prohibited on dedicated state nature preserves. 
  • Hunting is not permitted, except at Stone Mountain State Natural Area (SNA), Martin's Fork SNA, and Livingston County SNA, in accordance with regulations established by KDFWR under KRS 150 and 300 KAR chapters 1 - 3. 
  • To ensure the natural beauty of each area and to promote visitor safety and enjoyment, camping, picnicking, building fires, audio equipment and pets are not permitted. 
  • Remember to carry out your trash.
  • Rules for state nature preserves are established by 400 KAR 2:090. Any person in violation of this regulation may be liable for a civil penalty of $1,000 per day and possible criminal prosecution as provided for in KRS 224.
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