Department of Parks
Big Bone Lick Joins Exclusive Group Of National Natural Landmarks
UNION, Ky. -- Big Bone Lick State Park in Northern Kentucky has been named by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark, one of only 582 in the nation.
Big Bone Lick, which joins an elite group of geological sites around the country, is significant for its combination of salt springs and late Pleistocene bone beds. Ancient creatures like the mammoth, mastodon, ground sloth and bison once roamed through mineral springs and swamps, now grassy plains covered with trees and shrubs.
The site is recognized as the birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology. The area played a significant role in the development of scientific thought regarding extinction and the relationship of geology and paleontology the world over.
The National Park Service program, which began in 1962, recognizes significant natural history sites and helps support their conservation.
"We're very excited about Big Bone Lick’s selection and we’re looking forward to utilizing this prestigious recognition towards greater attention and visibility of the park’s unique place in history," said Gerry van der Meer, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Parks.
The 512 acre state park in southwestern Boone County is famous for its unique fossil beds, which date to the Pleistocene era about 20,000 years ago.
Jeannine Kreinbrink of Union, an archaeologist who co-authored the nomination paper with Dr. John Rockaway, said the park underwent a rigorous four-year review by the park service and the scientific community to achieve its new status. Kreinbrink and Rockaway both teach at Northern Kentucky University.
The park will receive a certificate and a plaque, and a ceremony will likely be held in the spring. Letters of support came from several people. Park supporters also hope it helps boost the park's profile.
Prehistoric animals who visited the salt licks there often got stuck in the swampy land around the licks, were trampled, drowned or hunted.
Big Bone Lick is already on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only site in Northern Kentucky to achieve natural landmark status.
The park features a bison herd, a campground, a museum and gift shop, and a lake for bank fishing. For more information, contact naturalist/anthropologist Todd Young at 859-384-3522.
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 52 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit our Web site at http://www.parks.ky.gov