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Ky.gov An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Energy and Environment Cabinet

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some frequently asked questions about your state nature preserves.

Question:  What is a state nature preserve?

Answer: A state nature preserve (SNP) is a legally dedicated area that has been recognized for its natural significance and protected by law for scientific and educational purposes.  Dedicated state nature preserves are established to protect and preserve rare species and the natural environment. Public visitation is encouraged but closely regulated to protect the natural integrity of the preserves so that they may be passed on unimpaired to future generations.

Question:  What is a state natural area?

Answer: A state natural area (SNA) is a site jointly managed as a wildlife management area with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). These areas are also dedicated to permanently protect them. They are protected for the same purposes as state nature preserves, but a rule allowing hunting differentiates them from state nature preserves. 

Question:  So public hunting is allowed on state natural areas? 

Answer: Yes, but only those properties that the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC) jointly manages with KDFWR are open to hunting. The state nature preserves are closed to public hunting.

Question:  Does KSNPC hold any conservation easements?

Answer: Yes. KSNPC has accepted several donated conservation easements and also purchased some of them from private landowners who voluntarily agreed to put permanent deed restrictions on their properties to preclude development or other activities that would harm or impair the land’s natural condition. KSNPC provides oversight and management to these areas.

Question:  How much land does KSNPC manage in Kentucky?

Answer:  KSNPC manages 53 dedicated state nature preserves. KSNPC owns the majority of preserves, but several are owned by other government agencies, private nonprofit organizations and private individuals. KSNPC jointly manages four SNA's with KDFWR. KSNPC also manages four conservation easements. These areas encompass 27,121 acres of ecological communities and natural habitat for rare species across the state. Negotiations for protection of additional natural areas are ongoing.

Question:  When are the preserves open?

Answer: The majority of the preserves are open to the public throughout the year (unless otherwise noted) from sunrise to sunset for nonconsumptive recreation such as hiking, birding, photography and nature study. Conservation easements managed by KSNPC are privately owned and are not open to the public. Please see the online directory of your state nature preserves for details such as public access, preserve features and directions, or call 502-573-2886 for more information.

Question:  Are the preserve trails open for horse back riding or bike riding?

Answer:  Trails on state nature preserves are open to foot traffic only.  Horseback riding and bike riding are not permitted because of their impacts to the trails and natural features of the preserves. Rock climbing, rappelling and motorized vehicles (ATV's) are also prohibited.

Question:  Are there picnic facilities or campgrounds?

Answer: To ensure the natural beauty of each preserve and to promote visitor safety and enjoyment, picnicking and camping as well as building fires and audio equipment are not allowed. Please carry out anything that you bring in to the preserve. The primary function of a nature preserve is to protect rare biological resources and natural communities. For this reason, only passive recreation is appropriate on a state nature preserve.

Question:  Can I bring my dog?

Answer: To ensure that native wildlife is not disturbed and to promote visitor safety and enjoyment, no pets are allowed on state nature preserves.


These rules are established by 400 KAR 2:090. Any person in violation of this regulation may be liable for a civil penalty of $1,000 per day and possible criminal prosecution as provided for in KRS 224.