Mantle Rock Preserve
Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 03:08 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
Just as its name implies, the centerpiece of the Mantle Rock Nature Preserve is a 30-foot high natural sandstone bridge spanning 188 feet. Numerous bluffs, shelters, and honeycomb formations embellish this area, which is also known for its extensive faulting and abundant fluorite deposits.
Mantle Rock and the surrounding property making up the preserve contains extraordinary biological diversity, including cliffs that become carpeted with wildflowers during springtime and a small babbling stream. Fragile sandstone glades interspersed throughout the surrounding upland forest provide the best examples of this rare habitat community type in all of Kentucky.
In addition to the preserve’s biological diversity, Mantle Rock also has archaeological significance, serving as a Native American Historical Landmark. For the Cherokee Nation, Mantle Rock serves as an emblem of resistance, survival and spirituality – a reminder of the harsh winter of 1838-39 when the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma. During this time, approximately 1766 persons from the Peter Hildebrand Detachment were forced to spend about two weeks among Mantle Rock and other formations while waiting for the Ohio River to thaw and become passable. Many Cherokees return each year to pay homage to their ancestors on the "Trail of Tears."
What's At Stake
Kentucky's only known occurrence of June grass thrives here along with other characteristic glade species such as prickly pear cactus, rush foil, hairy lipfern, little bluestem, pinweed and poverty grass. Scattered deep soil pockets are dominated by gnarled and stunted post oak, Blackjack oak, farkleberry, and red cedar. Mantle Rock also hosts plentiful forest and grassland wildlife species that include songbirds, deer, turkey and squirrels.
The Reynolds Metals Company donated 190 acres in 1988, which established the preserve. The acquisition of the adjacent 175-acre Calendar tract in 1995, and donation of two acres by the Felburn Foundation grew the preserve to its current size. While not part of the preserve’s boundaries, the Conservancy acquired the 900-acre Reynolds tract in 2001, which is connected to the southern edge of the preserve. In 2004, the preserve was recognized as a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail and added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Protect the sandstone glade community, especially the rare populations of June grass and Buckley's goldenrod. Other priorities include protecting archeological sites, preventing succession of the glade openings through fire management, restoring adjacent fields to native vegetation and developing the site for public access. .
National Park Service, the Cherokee Nation, the Trail of Tears Association, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Livingston County Government, Boy Scouts of America, other local private landowners .
From the Western Kentucky Parkway, exit either north on Hwy 641 to Marion then continue southwest on Hwy 60 to Salem, or exit north on Hwy 60 to Salem. From Salem, take Hwy 133 north two miles past Joy. On the south side of Hwy 133 is a large sign and gravel road marking the entrance to the parking lot.
Preserve trails are open to the people of all ages from sunrise to sunset. Approximately 2.75 miles of an easy rated loop trail extends around the interior of the preserve. To protect fragile habitats, please stay on maintained trails. Activities such as rock climbing, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking and all-terrain vehicles are strictly prohibited.
For more information on visiting this and other Nature Conservancy sites in Kentucky, see our Preserve Visitation Guidelines page.
MNN is working with The Nature Conservancy to bring you state-by-state environmental information.
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