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Lexington-Fayette County

Preserving Rural Qualities and Ecosystems

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Image Credit: Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government

With gorgeous farmlands and rural woods, Lexington-Fayette County is undoubtedly picturesque. The county highlights these lands through its strong agriculture and tourism industries, which provides outlets for the public to enjoy these scenic views.

Long known for its equestrian traditions, Lexington-Fayette County is particularly dependent on rural lands and the agricultural industry.  As a result, open space protection and several innovative programs have been implemented to conserve these lands.

One major initiative in Kentucky is the Urban Growth Boundary, or UGB. The first of its kind in the US, this boundary was established in 1958. It identifies certain areas of the county for urban or rural growth and restricts growth in other areas. Consequently, population growth remains in the urban areas, protecting rural lands from suburban sprawl and fragmentation.

The Rural Service Area Land Management plan also works to protect rural lands. This plan classifies Environmentally Sensitive Areas, or ESAs, such as animal habitats, wetlands, and flood plains.  These ESAs create an interconnected network of protected areas, which then protects the larger rural landscape.

Lexington-Fayette County is also recognized for using a “purchase of development rights” program, or PDR. This program obtains land easements through state and federal grants, such as those provided by the Forest Service. Through this PDR, the county has reached half of its 50,000 acre conservation goal in the first ten years alone.

Additional Information:
Growth Management in Lexington-Fayette

Contact: Christopher King, Director of Planning, chrisk “at” lexingtonky.gov, (859) 258-3262

Reference: Pruetz, Rick. 2012. Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes.  Planners Press. 232 pp.