Countless outdoor adventures wait inside the forests of Young Conservation Area (CA) in Jefferson County. Of the area’s 1,145 acres, about 93 percent are forested with oak, hickory, and other species native to the region.
Bountiful sandstone and limestone forests, woodlands, and glades provide plenty of habitat for wildlife, but Young CA’s diversity goes beyond upland communities to include one of the highest quality streams in the state. LaBarque Creek, a permanent stream that flows through the area’s northern portion, supports a diverse aquatic ecosystem that features more than 50 documented species of fish. The creek, along with riparian tree plantings, open fields, and restored woodlands and glades, demonstrates how healthy watersheds provide diverse wildlife habitat.
Due to this diversity, Young CA is a great destination for nature and wildlife viewing. Deer, turkeys, and squirrels are abundant, as are spring wildflowers and native birds. Bird watching is especially good for forest interior and riparian species.
LaBarque Creek and two additional lakes offer fishing opportunities for bass and sunfish. Hunting options include deer, rabbit, turkey, and squirrel during the appropriate seasons.
The beauty and diversity of Young CA is perhaps best viewed on foot; visitors can do this from one of two hiking trails. The 2.5-mile Taconic Loop Trail and 3.5-mile LaBarque Hills Trail travel past some of the area’s most stunning natural features including its various forests, glades, and streams, as well as projects such as restoration of riparian trees that protect LaBarque Creek from soil erosion and upland forest-improvement sites that have been thinned and prescribed burned to improve forest health and diversity as well as benefit wildlife.
Area managers use other wildlife-management techniques including controlling invasive species, managing for native vegetation in the fields, edge feathering, and building brush piles, all of which provide habitat for animals. Fish-habitat improvement at Young CA involves watershed conservation, protecting stream banks, and planting trees along the stream corridor of LaBarque Creek. Further explanations of these improvement efforts can be found on educational signs located along trails.
To reach Young CA, go south on Highway 109 off Interstate 44, then drive about 1.5 miles and turn right on Route FF. For more information about Young CA including an area map and brochure, visit the website listed below.
—Rebecca Martin, photo by Noppadol Paothong
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