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Western Kentucky University

WKU Green River Preserve

Montage of GRP images - graphic work by Tom MeachamGreen River on a summer dayPipevine swallowtail butterflyTwo students in a canoe at McCoy Blue HoleBarrens restoration - purple coneflowers in bloomWordcloud from titles of GRP research papers

WKU Green River Preserve: Mission

The Green River Preserve (GRP) comprises 1,520 acres of land, and stretches across both banks of the Green River in Hart County, Kentucky. The mission of the WKU Green River Preserve is to foster knowledge and protection of this highly diverse region and our natural heritage through research, education, and conservation.


Habitats and Species: Land and Water

The habitats of the Preserve include bottomlands, uplands, barrens, caves, limestone glades, and of course, the river itself. The Green River and its tributaries are centers of biological diversity for freshwater mussels and fish, hosting over 150 fish species and 71 mussel species. GRP lands surround several mussel beds, including one where nine federally listed endangered mussels have been documented. A large spring known as McCoy Blue Hole is located on the tract north of the river; it empties an underground karst drainage of 34 square miles, and an endangered cave shrimp has been recorded from the  groundwater basin that feeds this spring. Two federally endangered bat species have been recorded from caves on the Preserve property, and the land serves as swarming habitat for bats. The Preserve also provides critical breeding and migratory habitat for neotropical songbirds along the Green River corridor.

 Download this summary and presentation for additional details about the breadth and depth of education, research, and conservation at the GRP, including cultural conservation and restoration of the historic Gardner House. We're excited about the students, researchers, and citizens that have made the Preserve the special place it has come to be. We invite you to become a Friend of the Green River Preserve and grow along with us!

News and Events  -  keep up to date with us on Facebook and Tumblr!     facebook icon  tumblr

It's definitely summer at the WKU Green River Preserve! After glorious spring, with amazing wildflower blooming, great blue herons nesting, and a record number of bald eagle sightings on the river (which we're still seeing on many canoe trips), summer wildflowers are in full bloom and native grasses are tall. Look for fresh GRP photos on our Facebook page - and please LIKE us to see our postings! You'll find photos on our Tumblr blog as well.

Thanks to volunteers who joined the Green River Fest and cleanup on June 13th! The GRP is proud to co-sponsor this event along with KWA, TNC and others. This year, dedicated volunteers on one segment ending at the Preserve hauled 7 large bags of trash, 19.5 tires, and a full can of gasoline out of the Green River! If you missed it, you can participate in another cleanup on August 8, and we're also planning a Green River cleanup running from the Preserve to Mammoth Cave National Park this fall.

In research news, we've recently approved a local research advisory committee and a national research advisory committee to have more voices and perspective guiding our research work; thanks very much to all of the scientists who have agreed to serve in this capacity.

Recent or current research work at the GRP includes:

-visiting professors: Dr. John Pickering (Univ. of Georgia), phenology of moths in the southeastern U.S; Dr. Thomas Brackman (Northern Kentucky Univ.) and Dr. Mike May, applied geophysics;

-graduate students: Greg Barren, diatom community structure in the Green River as a karst system; Megan Grandinetti, leaf decay processes in streams; Matt Buchholz, parasites of mammals and disease vectors; Steven Micheletti (Washington State Univ.), salamander genetics; Carina Baskett (Michigan State Univ.), pollination and herbivory of herbaceous plant species in Kentucky and Costa Rica;

-undergraduate honors students: Autumn Smith, food web aquatic ecology using Corbicula transplants; Victoria Peters, soil moisture and geologic influences on riparian tree growth; Janis Lemaster; fire ecology of forest herbs in long-term plots; Anthony Steiner, influences of switch cane on exotic plants.

If you'd like to get involved, consider helping out with one of the monitoring projects at the GRP! We're very grateful for students like Torey Gilkison, recently graduated, who have helped manage the GRP’s data loggers.

If you’d like to get involved in other ways at the GRP, email us at! This summer we’re supporting river cleanups (check out the calendar for dates), more surveys and restoration projects, and visits by prospective students and by wounded veterans and their families – we’d love to have your participation and your help!

Thanks for being our partner in this work.

Dr Ouida W Meier, WKU GRP Director for Management, Education and Outreach

Click here to read some of our past News and Events postings.

Want to receive occasional Green River Preserve news? Email . Thanks for your interest!

Donation buttonYou can support the work of the WKU Green River Preserve!

Logo showing river flowing between landforms shaped like two mussel shells

This symbol of the Preserve uses the shapes of mussel shells as landforms on either side of the Green River. Created by Mina Doerner.

This land was purchased with Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Funds


GRP Field House Library


More calendar dates

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 Last Modified 6/23/15