The Lower Howard’s Creek valley in Clark County, Kentucky is home to a landscape of national cultural significance and regional biological importance. The valley’s importance was recognized by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and resulted in the awarding of a grant to the Clark County Fiscal Court to develop a corridor management plan for the Lower Howard’s Creek area. In 2004, the Court contracted with the consulting team of Parsons Brinckerhoff, Ned Crankshaw, ASLA, and Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc (CRA).
The team was charged to build on previous documentation to thoroughly explore and describe the relationships between cultural and natural resource features of the valley, to analyze their significance, and to propose long-term plans for preservation and public access. The project uncovered the multi-layered stories of the Lower Howard’s Creek landscape, and developed protection and interpretive strategies to allow the landscape to continue to depict those stories in the future.
In 2007, The Lower Howard’s Creek Corridor Management Plan received an Analysis and Planning Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The award statement noted that the Lower Howard’s Creek Corridor Management Plan was the first comprehensive management plan of its type in the region; that the plan and accompanying report communicated effectively with a lay audience of citizens, property owners, and local public officials; and makes a defensible case for funding to state and federal environmental agencies.
CRA’s report described in detail the landscape components documented and treatment options for these features as well as addressed the immediate preservation needs of individual components. It also provided an historical context for interpreting the area and identifying historical themes specific to the industrial and residential community. In late 2007 and early 2008, CRA conducted a phase I cultural historic and archaeological survey of 297 acres in the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve at the request of the Clark County Fiscal Court.
As a result of the survey, 11 distinct cultural historic resources and 8 archaeological sites were documented, and 2 previously documented sites were expanded. The cultural historic resources were evaluated as a whole under Criteria A, B, and C and recommended under Criterion A for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places as a rural historic landscape. The archaeological sites were evaluated separately but recommendations were made for treating the sites as contributing components to the eligibility of the Preserve as a rural historic landscape under Criteria A and D. In May 2008, further testing was conducted at one of the archaeological sites (15Ck478), which resulted in new information regarding one of the earliest residents of Lower Howard’s Creek, Jonathan Bush, and his family. Since that time, CRA has continued to work with the Preserve with regard to exploring the past lifeways of the Lower Howard’s Creek community, most recently conducting a geophysical survey (specifically, magnetometer and ground penetrating radar) of a possible mound and two cemetery clusters in 2011.