Clear Creek WMA
Explore a natural wetland in Hopkins County
By Lee McClellan
Hopkins County is rife with low lying wet areas that make fantastic and increasingly rare wildlife habitat. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources recently purchased 858 acres of this habitat on Clear Creek in Hopkins County for use by the public as Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
“Clear Creek is a pretty unique place,” said Don Walker, assistant director of wildlife. “It is a natural, native emergent wetland. It’s a giant swamp. This is a foothold on an important system that needs protection.”
Purchase of the Clear Creek WMA was possible in part from a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program.
The Clear Creek drainage begins just south of Madisonville and flows westward to the Tradewater River. This flow demonstrates the importance of conserving wetlands.
“It’s been heavily impacted by coal mining in the headwaters,” Walker explained. “By the time you get to the lower end of Clear Creek, the water quality is greatly improved with good aquatic life. It serves as a natural treatment system. The sediments are filtered out and the vegetation uptakes the pollutants.”
Waterfowl, especially ducks, use the area often. Clear Creek WMA area is open to statewide regulations for waterfowl hunting. The best method for duck hunting may be wading or from a canoe.
“It’s a good duck area,” Walker said. “It has deep water in it and as you get closer to the channel, it gets too deep to wade. But, you can wade out into it for a good ways. They get a variety of waterfowl in there.”
The area is also a good for birding and holds decent populations of largemouth bass and sunfish. “There is good fishing in the lower end of the Clear Creek drainage,” Walker explained. “The water is clear and you can look and down and see the fish.”
Walker has canoed and kayaked the area extensively. “It is a very pretty place to canoe,” he said. “It has some tributaries coming into it that you can explore.”
There are few natural wetlands left in Kentucky. “Our objective is to protect and restore these wetlands,” Walker said. “They are disappearing and they are so vital to maintaining water quality.”
To Get There:
From Madisonville, take KY 70 west to KY 109 north, then right onto Utley Road. Parking is located off Utley Road.