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Shelby Trails Park, Shelby County’s equestrian facility in Todds Point is growing to 465 acres, thanks to the acquisition via state grant of an adjacent 75-acre parcel.
“We closed on it last Tuesday, and we have possession of the land,” Parks and Recreation Chair Hubie Pollett said.
The county was able to purchase the land, which lies on the west side of the park on Aiken Road, with a Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund grant of $591,097, a grant that outgoing Parks Director Clay Cottongim said he was glad to have acquired before he retires this month.
“I am very excited about it; it’s just one of the last projects I was working on,” Cottingim said. “It will be for conservation and green space and hiking and stuff like that.”
Officials from KHLCF said when the addition opens to the public, it will be used for hiking, bird watching and educational programs, as a compliment to the equestrian facilities already established.
Staff biologist Zeb Weese said the KHLCF Board was interested in the site because of the opportunity to protect a natural area in one of the state’s most rapidly developing areas.
“Although the KHLCF focuses on protecting properties with ecological significance or rare species,
it is also important to protect green space near developing areas,” he said. “Not only will this property provide habitat for wildlife, it will also create opportunities for environmental education.”
Cottongim said the price for the property, purchased from John Spaulding and Jeanette D. Hase-Spaulding on Dec. 4, was set by a state appraisal and it was paid for 100 percent with the grant.
“It’s [land] been for sale for a long time,” he said.
Cottongim said the parks board and Shelby County Fiscal Court appreciate being able to partner with the KHLCF board on this and other land purchases.
Pollett, who also is a magistrate, said before the property officially can be added to Shelby Trails, certain steps have to be taken.
“We have to get a management plan together and get back with the state to get that approved, and we have to do that within thirty days,” he said. “It’s ours now, but we have to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s as far as the state is concerned.
“It will be attached to Shelby Trails, so we will just have to wait to see what the management plan says we can do. River Fields is the one [agency] that oversees Shelby Trails. Any type of improvements we do will have to be OKd by them; that was a request from the Shotts.”
Dianne and Roger Shott of Anchorage donated their horse farm to the parks board in October 2010. They wanted the property, which already had a 22-mile riding trail, to be an equestrian park and nature preserve, and their donation stipulated it be used as such, which is why River Fields, a conservation agency, was designated to set guidelines on how the property can be used to ensure it complies with the Shotts’ wishes.
Money that the KHLCF uses for land grants is furnished in part by the sale of “Nature’s Finest” license plates, Weese said.
With this acquisition, the fund has now protected and conserved over 76,000 acres in 63 counties.