Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Kentucky's largest, best cypress swamp added to state nature preserves system

Press Release Date:  Thursday, October 13, 2005  
Contact Information:  Joyce Bender (502) 573-2886; or Sherry McClain, MSU, (270) 762-3156  

MURRAY, Ky.  (Oct. 13, 2005) – Murphy’s Pond, a wetlands complex containing the largest and best bald cypress swamp remaining in Kentucky, today was formally dedicated as an addition to the Obion Creek State Nature Preserve.

The 175-acre preserve portion of the property in Hickman County was acquired along with 104 acres of adjoining uplands by Murray State University in 1975 with assistance from The Nature Conservancy. It is considered one of the most ecologically significant natural areas in Kentucky.

The university will continue to own the property, but it will receive the permanent legal protections afforded state nature preserves, along with valuable land management assistance provided by staff of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC).

“The partnership that we have entered into today with the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission will not only help ensure that Murphy’s Pond will continue to serve as a valuable living classroom and research facility, but will also assure that the ecological integrity of the site will be forever protected,” university President Dr. F. King Alexander said.

“Murphy’s Pond continues to offer our students and faculty a tremendous educational environment,” Alexander said. “This new designation as a state preserve grants many protections for decades to come for future students.”

A state nature preserve is a legally dedicated area recognized for its natural significance. It is established to protect rare native species and ecological communities, managed to enhance and perpetuate these elements of biodiversity, and accorded the highest form of land protection available under Kentucky law.  

With the addition of Murphy’s Pond, the Obion Creek State Nature Preserve now encompasses a 1,577-acre mosaic of upland slopes and wetland communities, including shrub swamp, marsh, and bottomland hardwood forest.  In addition to the high quality natural communities and flora associated with the site, Murphy’s Pond also is thought to have the highest concentration of cottonmouth snakes in the commonwealth.  To visit Murphy’s Pond, contact the university.  Access to the rest of Obion Creek SNP requires written permission from the Commission.

“The commission has long recognized Murphy’s Pond as an incredibly important part of Kentucky’s natural heritage,” said Donald S. Dott, Jr., director of the commission. “We are delighted that the faculty and administration of Murray State, who have exercised careful stewardship of the area for the past 30 years, have demonstrated a commitment today to guarantee that this unique natural resource will be preserved for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

The KSNPC was established by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1976. With the assistance of other state and county government agencies, private organizations, foundations, academic institutions and individuals, the agency has preserved in perpetuity 21,462 acres of ecological communities and natural habitat for rare species at 51 preserves. For additional information on Murphy’s Pond, the Obion Creek State Nature Preserve or the KSNPC, contact Joyce Bender at 801 Schenkel Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601 or call (502) 573-2886. 

Murray State University has an enrollment of 10,200 students representing all 50 states and several foreign countries. The university has five colleges — business and public affairs, education, health sciences and human services, humanities and fine arts, and science, engineering and technology — and a school of agriculture.

MSU was recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report for the 15th consecutive year as one of the nation’s top universities. Murray State University is the only Kentucky school ranked as a “Great School at a Great Price” by U.S. News. For information regarding Murphy’s Pond or Murray State University, contact the News Bureau at (270) 762-3156.