Lack of access to the wetland, located off State Highway 81, has been problematic for Kentucky State Nature Preserve Commission staff, State Rep. Brent Yonts was told by Commission Director Don Dott and State Nature Preserve Branch Manager Joyce Bender on the tour. It has also prohibited the public from entering the preserve and viewing the rare species that live there, including the state threatened bird-voiced tree frog and special-concern copperbelly water snake, said Dott.
Dott said the preserve has no parking, and the layout of the preserve boundaries prohibits any public access.
Yonts, D-Greenville, said he would like to see improved legal access to the preserve for all who would like to tour the wetland which is home to Cypress Creek, a stream that feeds into Kentucky’s drinking water supply.
“The preserve is really a natural gem,” said Yonts. “It has been part of the state nature preserve system since 1986, but so few local folks know it exists. Adequate legal access to the grounds would be helpful for everyone, I think.”
The Cypress Creek State Nature Preserve is a mix of natural lands with cypress/tupelo swamp, bottomland hardwood forest, and other swamp land. Its location is at the northern limits of bald cypress growth in the U.S. south. Prior to 1982, Cypress Creek was impacted by acid mine waters, but conditions there have improved with the passage of time, said Dott. Bender noted that the mud at the preserve is no longer orange when walked upon, which she said demonstrates the ability of wetlands to filter surface water runoff before it enters streams, protecting drinking water.
Yonts, Dott, and Bender viewed several wetland plants on the tour including Lizard’s tail, a plant with a drooping stem of flowers that resembles a lizard tail. Wetland animals, including great blue herons and a large turtle which appeared to be looking for a place to lay its eggs, were seen, and three barred owls were heard calling back and forth to each other. Wood ducks and snakes also call the preserve home, said Dott.
“It is good to know about this little gem in the neighborhood,” he said.
Information provided by Rebecca Hanchett
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