New Bernheim land to help protect wildlife, environment

By Amy Joseph Landon

Source: Kentucky Standard
By Kacie Goode
October 23, 2018

Forest welcomes fall with family fun, exciting news

Bernheim welcomed hundreds of guests this past weekend for its annual ColorFest fall celebration, but visitors to the arboretum and research forest see only a small portion of the land it protects.

<div class="source">KACIE GOODE/The Kentucky Standard</div><div class="image-desc">3-year-old Lyla finds the perfect place to sit her mudpie Sunday during Bernheim&#039;s ColorFest.</div><div class="buy-pic"></div>

KACIE GOODE/The Kentucky Standard
3-year-old Lyla finds the perfect place to sit her mudpie Sunday during Bernheim’s ColorFest.
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Two days before the ColorFest kickoff, Bernheim officials announced the acquisition of a 494-acre tract of land near Cedar Grove in Bullitt County.

The addition of the land brings Bernheim’s total acreage to 16,137, signifying the forest’s vast expansion since its establishment in 1929 and making it the largest privately held forest dedicated to education and conservation in the eastern United States, according to a press release. The land assists 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, in an announcement released to media late last week. “We are grateful to the partnerships that helped make this purchase possible.”

The land was purchased from the Simon family, former owners of Publishers Printing, from whom Bernheim purchased 954 acres last spring. The tract is the third land acquisition for Bernheim in the last three years. In 2016, the forest also acquired the 162-acre Thurman Tract.

Of the nearly 500 acres of the newest acquisition, 454 is forest and 40 is an open field with upper sections of Cedar Creek flowing into the Salt River, according to the release. The area provides a habitat for several rare and threatened plants and animals, such as the Indiana and northern long-eared bats.

Purchasing the plot of land was a $1.4 million-dollar project, for which funding came from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation, the Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund 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, which administers the fund. “This corridor will become a very important resource for wildlife in the future and will certainly help support Bernheim’s education mission.”

As part of Bernheim’s ownership of the land, a conservation easement has been granted to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Board to restrict development and subdivision of the land, and requires the area to be managed as habitat for imperiled species, according to the release.

Public access to the land will be limited to nature-based education programs and researchers. Bernheim’s forest manager, Andrew Berry, said land stewardship work will begin immediately.

“This land has some spectacular mature forest, with more large trees than I have seen elsewhere in the Bernheim region,” Berry said.

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