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Upland burrowing crayfish photo by Guenter A. Schuster

About Us

The Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves (KNP) is a state agency created in 1976.

To protect Kentucky's natural heritage by (1) identifying, acquiring and managing natural areas that represent the best known occurrences of rare native species, natural communities and significant natural features in a statewide nature preserve system; (2) working with others to protect biological diversity; and (3) educating Kentuckians as to the value and purpose of nature preserves and biodiversity conservation.

The people of Kentucky recognize, appreciate, endorse and actively support biodiversity conservation, including the acquisition and maintenance of a state nature preserves system that represents the best possible examples of native biological diversity and significant natural features within the Commonwealth.

KNP serves other agencies by providing biological inventory data and services needed to meet various requirements. KNP's staff botanists, zoologists, ecologists, land managers and data managers work with others to protect our natural heritage and educate Kentuckians about its importance. The agency is conducting a systematic inventory of Kentucky's natural areas using aerial photo interpretation and on-ground visits to natural areas with landowner permission. This inventory process has documented the loss of many natural areas, but also has enabled staff to work with many landowners to achieve permanent protection for high-quality sites.

KNP works closely with private conservation organizations and with other natural resource agencies to promote biological diversity protection and management. KNP receives land acquisition money from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund. Additionally, the Kentucky Nature License Plate and the Nature and Wildlife Fund (state income tax refund checkoff program) both support KNP activities. Operating funds are provided by the state's general fund and from grants and contracts from other agencies.