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There’s an old saying about land: They’re not making it anymore.

In its 2012 Census of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted Kentucky lost more of its farmland between 2007 and 2012 than any state in the country. The agency’s 2010 National Resources Inventory shows Kentucky developed 970,000 acres of land from 1982 through 2010.

The loss of rural area makes it more difficult to find places to hunt and fish. That’s why the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is working to create more public access to land through outright purchases, partnerships with other agencies, and agreements with private owners.

While the amount of newly opened property is small in comparison—just short of 47,000 acres since 2010—it does create new opportunities for hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers.

“The biggest thing we’ve done is added more public land where the greatest concentration of people are—the Golden Triangle of Lexington, Louisville, and northern Kentucky,” says Chris Garland, Wildlife Division assistant director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The value of these properties is they give people a place to go to enjoy hunting, wildlife viewing, and nature.”

Veterans Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Scott County, for example, is just off Interstate 75 and minutes from Lexington. Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area in Meade County likewise is within minutes of Louisville. Griffith Woods in Harrison County, with its 300-year-old trees and world’s largest chinquapin oak, lies just to the east of the Golden Triangle’s edge.

New areas extend far beyond the central part of the state. Agreements with private landowners in eastern Kentucky have opened nearly 30,000 acres to public access in Bell, Breathitt, Knott, Leslie, and Perry counties.

To the west, the acquisition of 6,700 acres in Crittenden and Union counties led to the creation of Big Rivers WMA and State Forest.

Some of the new areas offer more than just hunting opportunities. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife recently added nearly 1,000 acres in Henry County to the Kentucky River WMA. This former farm includes numerous fishing ponds and an 88-acre lake. A new addition to Clay WMA in Bath and Nicholas counties improves access to Licking River and protects the mussels and stream quality.

More information and maps of these areas, both new and old, are available online at under the “Maps” tab. With the weather cooling down, it’s a great time to explore Kentucky’s great outdoors.

Register for quota hunts on public lands during September. Go to to apply for the area of your choice. Type “quota hunts” in the search box to locate applications and more information.

Obie Williams

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