Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts have new destinations to consider this fall with two parcels in Bath and Owen counties now open for public use.
The new tracts, acquired by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, expand Clay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) by 467 acres and Dr. James R. Rich WMA by 601 acres. Each is open to hunting under the regulations currently in place for their respective WMAs.
Both new areas will be open for this weekend’s youth-only deer season, as well as archery deer season. The areas will only be open under quota hunts for the modern gun seasons. In addition, the Clay WMA property will be open for quota hunts only for quail and grouse.
Rich WMA is not open for muzzleloader hunting while Clay WMA is open to muzzleloader hunting.
The properties were purchased with funding from the Kentucky Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program. The Wildlife Restoration Program, a matching grant program funded by the federal excise taxes on guns and ammunition, also provided money for the purchase of the Rich WMA addition. No general fund tax dollars or department license dollars were used in either land acquisition.
“The department utilizes different funding sources to help expand the amount of public land available to hunters and anglers in Kentucky,” said Chris Garland, assistant Wildlife Division director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “About 95 percent of the state is privately owned. By adding these properties, the public has more than 1,000 additional acres to enjoy. The new tracts offer a lot of opportunity and potential.”
The Indian Creek tract of Clay WMA borders the Licking River in Bath County and is approximately 60 percent open ground and 40 percent forested.
“Most of the open land has had a history of row cropping and will be managed for quality early successional habitat, including native grasslands, to improve habitat for a variety of species,” said Nathan Gregory, Northeast Wildlife Region Coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The forested areas will be treated for invasive species and managed for beneficial shrub communities and mast production along with quality riparian habitat along the Licking River.”
Mitigation funds will be used for the restoration of riparian forests and aquatic habitat along small headwater streams, Indian Creek and the Licking River. Stream restoration work is anticipated to start next year and continue into 2017.
Hunters can expect to encounter deer and turkey with opportunities for small game and furbearers, as well.
More than a mile of the river will be accessible on the property. The department is exploring the potential to add a boat ramp that would improve river access. The property is 40 river miles downstream of Cave Run Lake and 20 miles upstream from the main tract of Clay WMA.
To access the Indian Creek tract of Clay WMA from Mt. Sterling, take KY 11 north toward Flemingsburg for about 17 miles to KY 1325, turn right onto KY 1325 and travel about 1.5 miles to KY 1602/Oakley Pebble Road. Turn left on KY 1602/Oakley Pebble Road and the property entrance will be about 4.5 miles down the road on the left. From Owingsville, take KY 111 north for about 6.5 miles to KY 1602/Oakley Pebble road. Turn left onto KY 1602/Oakley Pebble Road and continue about 2.5 miles. The property entrance will be on the right.
The new property added to Rich WMA is informally known as the “Red Oak” tract and makes a total of 2,273 acres available on the WMA for public hunting, fishing, hiking and sightseeing opportunities in the populous Bluegrass Region.
Located in southern Owen County, the new property is expected to receive a fair amount of hunting pressure because of its reputation and location. Owen County has the highest concentration of deer in the state and last year led all counties with more than 3,400 deer harvested.
“Most of the newly acquired acreage consists of forest that will provide visitors with expectations to encounter not only deer but good populations of squirrels and turkeys,” said Derek Beard, Bluegrass Wildlife Region Coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Future management plans include stream rehabilitation and the enhancement of riparian habitats on approximately 41,000 feet of streams, mostly intermittent channels that run throughout the property. Additionally, future activities may include forest stand improvement in the oak and hickory forest to improve wildlife habitat, tree or shrub plantings in openings to reduce forest fragmentation, and invasive species removal as needed. Sites may also be identified for development of vernal pools, a type of wetland that contains water for part of the year.
To access the newly acquired property from Frankfort, travel on US 127 north to KY 607. Turn right on KY 607 and travel 10 miles. Turn right onto Old Owenton-Georgetown Road. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife staff recently built two new parking areas. Boundaries are identified with signs and blazed with yellow paint.
An information kiosk for the WMA also is located off KY 227 on the right, past the intersection with KY 1474.
Maps for these and all WMAs in Kentucky are available online at: http://fw.ky.gov
The Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide also is available on the website and wherever hunting licenses are sold.
(story provided by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife)