Land acquisition helps build a valuable wildlife corridor, provides clean air and water
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest announced today the purchase of a 494-acre tract of land adjacent to the Bullitt County community of Cedar Grove, bringing the total acreage of land that Bernheim protects to 16,137. This purchase marks the third land acquisition in as many years for the largest privately held forest dedicated to education and conservation in the eastern United States.
Bernheim officials are calling the acquisition another positive step in the creation of the Cedar Grove wildlife corridor.
“Amidst the rapid pace of development, providing natural corridors where plant and wildlife habitat are protected is critical,” said Dr. Mark Wourms, Bernheim’s Executive Director. “We are grateful to the partnerships that helped make this purchase possible.”
Wourms said the newly acquired land, which features 454 acres of forest, a 40-acre open field and upper sections of Cedar Creek that flows into the Salt River, provides habitat for a multitude of rare and threatened plants and animals, including the Indiana and Northern long-eared bats.
Funding for the $1.4 million-dollar project came from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, administered by the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves and the Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund, administered by US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust.
“We’re happy to play a small role in helping Bernheim achieve this work,” said Lee Andrews, State Field Office Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This corridor will become a very important resource for wildlife in the future and will certainly help support Bernheim’s education mission.”
In addition to purchasing the property, Bernheim granted a conservation easement to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Board that restricts development and subdivision of the land and requires the area to be managed as habitat for imperiled species.
The Simon family, former owners of Publishers Printing, sold the property to Bernheim. Bernheim previously purchased the 954-acre Big Level from the Simon Family in spring of 2017.
Wourms praised the Simon family’s legacy of conservation and emphasized that protected lands have a positive impact on humankind too.
“Not only does this beautiful diverse land provide critical habitat for endangered plants and wildlife, it also benefits the people of this region providing clean air, clean water and natural spaces to enjoy,” said Wourms.
Bernheim’s Forest Manager Andrew Berry called the purchase a great opportunity to fulfill Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature.
“With this acquisition we have connected the community of Cedar Grove to Bernheim,” said Berry. “We look forward to contributing positively to the Cedar Grove community for many generations to come.”
Berry said the Bernheim team will begin land stewardship work immediately. “This land has some spectacular mature forest, with more large trees than I have seen elsewhere in the Bernheim region,” said Berry.
Executive Director of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves Zeb Weese expressed enthusiasm for the restoration potential the newly protected land offers for the Kentucky glade cress – a small endangered plant found in the nearby Apple Valley Glades State Nature Preserve.
“Another long-term vision is a public hiking trail connecting Apple Valley with Bernheim and on to Knobs State Forest,” said Weese. “This property takes us one step closer to making that happen.”
Weese thanked Kentuckians who help make land conservation possible.
“As always, we are grateful to the thousands of Kentuckians who purchase nature license plates and help make the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund possible,” said Weese.
Wourms said that public access to the land will be limited to nature-based education programs and researchers.
For more information about scheduled programs visit bernheim.org.