New Wildlife Management Area opens in Lee, Estill counties

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 2, 2021) — A former cattle farm recently restored as a natural area along the Kentucky River is now open to public use, including turkey hunting.

Ross Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) spans nearly 1,000 acres across a bend in the river near Lock and Dam 13 in Estill and Lee counties. The Kentucky Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program, operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, acquired the property as part of the Ross Creek restoration project.

"It had been a cattle farm, with cattle grazing near the stream and wading in the water," said project manager Jessie Boles. "It was not in good shape. The stream had been channelized and diverted from its original course. The banks were eroded."

Restoration work at the 938-acre WMA included creating new stream meanders and wetlands to imitate formerly natural conditions of the stream. Since construction on the project started in February 2019, more than 15,000 trees and shrubs have been planted in the valley along Ross Creek.

The project will help greatly reduce erosion and the amount of sediment flowing into the Kentucky River.

Most of the WMA above the Ross Creek valley consists of forested hills. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife regional supervisory biologist Mike Strunk said the area offers opportunities for turkey, squirrel and deer hunting. The WMA is currently open under statewide regulations for hunting, he said.

Strunk also noted the WMA offers anglers some walk-in fishing access to the Kentucky River.

To reach the area from Irvine, take KY 851 east and drive for approximately 25 minutes. A parking lot is available at GPS coordinates 37.6040013369688, -83.85706956104063.

The property adjoins the Kentucky River Authority's Lock and Dam 13 on the west bank. Sections of the WMA border Lock 13 Road, Spencer Ridge Road and Ross Creek Road. A map of the area is located online at


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