Default alt text

Conserve Environmentally Sensitive Areas

Conserve environmentally sensitive areas, including significant natural habitats, wetlands and water bodies.

Protecting significant natural habitats, within the Rural Service Area and within the Urban Service Area where feasible, maintains biodiversity and protects habitat, native biota, and wildlife corridors. Linking greenways, tree protection areas, stream corridors, stream conservation greenways, and/or significant tree canopies allows wildlife and flora to travel and thrive in a more ecologically diverse environment in both the Rural Service Area and the Urban Service Area, where feasible. Seeing flora (plant life) and fauna (animals) are good for reducing stress, and ecological diversity plays a part in providing places where bees can feed. As of August 2017, Lexington has 28,953 acres of Rural Service Area farmland conserved with PDR easements. The purpose of the PDR easements is to preserve farmland and environmentally sensitive land in the Rural Service Area. The farmland preserved provides food security for Lexington and surrounding areas, since the valuable agricultural soil is protected from development. If land is preserved for farming but bee populations are not sufficient to pollinate plants, then production of food could be very limited. Therefore, safe places for bees is another reason for protecting natural habitats and flora. In 1999, the Land Capability Analysis defined the boundaries of environmentally sensitive areas, which equaled about 30% of the Rural Service Area.

The Natural Area (NAT) identified on page 51 of the 2017 Rural Land Management Plan, contains about 8,500 acres and is located in the extreme southeastern part of the county. It includes floodplains, riparian vegetation, steep slopes, and canopy coverage, and is home to a wide variety of aquatic and wildlife. Agriculture does occur in portions of the NAT. Echoing the 2017 Rural Land Management Plan, “…the preservation and enhancement of the land, vegetation and water in a natural state with a minimum of intrusions” is a policy emphasized.

The Rural Land Management Plan lists “Special Natural Protection Areas”, which are located all over the RSA, not just in the NAT. The lists describe mapped areas of high priority and slightly lower priority for preservation, and include sites with rare species of plants, large blue ash trees, rare bird sites, river slopes, and natural bodies of water. The Rural Land Management Plan identified special natural protection areas; the “A” sites are those with the highest priority for preservation, and the “B” sites are those with a slightly lower priority for preservation.

For development applications inside the USA, a process should be established to identify and quantify endangered species on a proposed development site. New developments are suggested to avoid dividing floodplains into private ownership with flood insurance. Care should be taken during the development process to provide additional protection areas around floodplains and to incorporate them into accessible greenspace. Single-loaded streets could provide more open accessibility to the residents in the vicinity, and are recommended to be utilized.

Action Item(s)

  • Develop an inventory of Special Natural Protection Areas within the Urban Service Area.

Goals and Objectives

GOAL B3: Apply environmentally sustainable practices to protect, conserve and restore landscapes and natural resources.

Objective: B3b

Identify and protect natural resources and landscapes before development occurs.

GOAL D3: Protect and enhance the natural and cultural landscapes that give Lexington-Fayette County its unique identity and image.

There are no objectives related to this policy that further this particular goal.

GOAL E2: Support the agricultural economy, horse farms, general agricultural farms and the rural character of the Rural Service Area.

Objective: E2a

Protect and enhance the natural, cultural, historic and environmental resources of Lexington-Fayette County's Rural Service Area and Bluegrass farmland to help promote the general agricultural brand and ensure Lexington-Fayette County remains the Horse Capital of the World.

Objective: E2b

Support the Purchase of Development Rights and private sector farmland conservation programs to protect, preserve and enhance our signature agricultural industries, historic structures, cultural landscapes, natural environments and community welfare.