"This preserve was named in honor of the man who discovered the site's significance as a natural area. Raymond Athey, a self-taught botanist, freely gave of his extensive knowledge to help in the protection of Kentucky's unique natural areas. Initially, 63 acres of land in Logan County were acquired with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy and dedicated October 24, 1990. Additional tracts were dedicated February 20, 1991 and March 11, 1994. Today the 156-acre preserve supports several plant communities with a high diversity of associated species. The barrens are typified by open-grown post (Quercus stellata) and black jack (Quercus marlandica) oaks that dominate the woodland canopy. Glades occur as small openings within the woods. The soils are characteristically thin with bedrock at or near the surface. Several rare species are known from this preserve, including the prairie gentian (Gentiana puberulenta), a wildflower with vibrant deep blue petals. Access is by written permission only." (naturepreserves.ky.gov)
Unlike the National Park the Nature Preserves rarely see visitors and thus exotic invasives are much rarer. This created a much different management style for our team and sparked a lot of great discussions about what the term "invasive" really means.
We began working on Johnson Grass (Sorghum halepense) along the roadside. This grass has become an established invasive on almost every continent in the world. In this area it is very common on roadsides and field edges and so the crew strapped on their backpack sprayers to make some Kentucky "blue" grass of our own.
After knocking back the Johnson Grass we moved on to controlling re-sprouting hardwoods in an area treated this past spring with a prescribed fire. Prescribed fires had been used by the Native Americans in this area long before European’s arrived to provide better access, improve hunting, and to rid the land of undesirable species so they could farm. Today, it is used for many of the same reasons, and in this case is also a means of maintaining a glimpse of the biological history of this area as it was seen by the Native Americans years ago. There are several species that excel at colonizing disturbed areas and pushing forest boundaries into the grasslands. So while sumac, eastern red cedar, and other vigorous hardwoods are native and should not be eliminated altogether; these species are still considered invasive when considering the desired outcome of maintaining native grasslands. Our team assisted the KSNPC in this task by treating these undesired species before they became established.