Springs are an important part of Kentucky’s history, with most early settlements locating near to major springs and licks. Unfortunately, many of our best examples of spring habitats have been altered and no longer function for wildlife and native plant communities.
At Bernheim, our springs have also been altered, some substantially from their natural form. The spring just below the Education Center is a great example of this. Preliminary studies have shown this is more than just a trickle of water from the hillside. Species such as Barr’s cave amphipod and karst limestone boulders suggest that this spring is the exit for a larger cave system.
With a grant from the Louisville Water Foundation, we will begin to restore the spring just below the Education Center. This spring was modified years ago by digging drainage ditches and installing pipes to quickly move water into the ponds below. Working with renowned wetland engineer Tom Biebighauser, we will improve three-naturally appearing spring-fed wetlands to provide habitat for a diversity of animal and plant species.
After the restoration, we will introduce a plant community that will represent natural limestone springs and seeps in the Bernheim region. Using materials salvaged from Bernheim, we will naturalize the site using limestone boulders, large diameter logs, native ferns, mosses, liverworts, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. The Springhouse, moved to the site in 1971, will stay on site and be enhanced with a living roof and mosses. This project will reduce runoff and sediment washing into the Olmsted Ponds, establish a unique interpretive site that is open to the public, and provide yet another water themed field trip destination for students.
This project will be completed with support from