Horse Lick Creek

Achievement through Partnership

A partnership of mutual interest is bringing forth environmental achievements in the Horse Lick Creek Bioreserve. The Daniel Boone National Forest and the Kentucky Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has worked cooperatively for over a decade to preserve and restore biological diversity in one of America's Last Great Places, formally designated by TNC in 1992.

Horse Lick CreekCooperative efforts continue in a wide range of activities that support and involve the local community through educational opportunities. Other significant partners include the Jackson County government, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.

The water of Horse Lick Creek begins its 16-mile journey in western Jackson County, flowing below steeply rugged slopes before gradually descending into the Rockcastle River.

Vegetative and structural evidence indicates heavy settlement and farming occurred along Horse Lick Creek until the early 1900s. These shadows from the past remind us of Kentucky's rich cultural heritage, another important aspect of ongoing partnership efforts.

In spite of human influence, this 40,000-acre bioreserve remains abundant in native flora and fauna. Today, approximately 1,000 residents live within the ridgetop boundaries of the bioreserve. It remains a place where people come to enjoy Mother Nature, to fish, hunt or hike in one of Kentucky's remotely hidden treasures.

The Nature Conservancy, Forest Service and private landholders share ownership within the boundaries of the Horse Lick Creek Bioreserve. More than 15,000 acres are owned and managed by the Daniel Boone National Forest, with the majority of ownership in private. In addition to shared ownership, cooperators share a sense of responsibility in the protection and management of this rare and special place. Some of the following activities define our shared purpose.

Land Acquisition

Through a common management goal of watershed protection, the Forest Service has acquired acreage from the Nature Conservancy. As a result, more lands within this important watershed have been made available for protection and restoration.

Erosion Control

Stream crossing surfaces have been hardened by the installation of concrete slabs. The flow of silt from vehicle traffic into Horse Lick Creek has been significantly reduced. This successful project was accomplished through challenge cost share agreement.

Horse Lick Creek Crossing

Road Improvement

The Jackson County government has provided outstanding service in road maintenance and improvements throughout the Horse Lick Creek watershed. Their contribution of road grading and depositing gravel provides further protection from soil runoff on steeply inclined road surfaces.

Horse Lick Road

OHV Control

The Forest Service Law Enforcement provides routine inspection of illegal off-highway vehicle use in Horse Lick Creek. National forest lands with this watershed and surrounding area are closed to OHV use. Road closures have been installed and signs have been posted to advise the public.

Inventory and Surveys

Various partners have participated in the inventory of rare and protected species in the Horse Lick Creek Bioreserve. Aquatic surveys are ongoing to determine the population density of endangered mussels and other aquatic wildlife.


Cooperative efforts that include personnel from all partnership agencies are required to conduct long-term monitoring of the rare and protected species known to occur within the watershed of Horse Lick Creek. Biologists from across the region are recording species occurrence and continue to monitor population density and trends.


Interpretation signs have been installed to inform the public visiting Horse Lick Creek of its ecological significance. Information expresses the importance of biological diversity, water quality and species protection.

Horse Lick Creek Interpretive Sign


The local community benefits through educational opportunities that abound in Horse Lick Creek. Whether the interest is in natural resources or cultural history, it is a place where both teachers and students can find knowledge and answers.