"So now everybody in the state owns 400 acres," said Barry Allen, owner of Cedar Creek Lake Outdoors on Main Street. "It's going to be turned into a water fowl enthusiast's dream come true ..."
The purchase was funded by Program Income Dollars from lands owned or managed by the state, such as farmlands.
"Program Income Dollars is money we've earned off properties the department owns or manages, and they are used to acquire new property. That money is dedicate to use for the state and the sportsmen," said Charles Bush, director of engineering with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources. "Usually we'll have 3-4 acquisitions (per year), and they'll vary in size. This is particularly exciting because of its proximity to Cedar Creek Lake."
Located on Ky. 39 about one mile north of Crab Orchard, the land is approximately 4 miles from Cedar Creek Lake. Crab Orchard Mayor Mike Ramey said the new wildlife management area would create an exciting prospect of growth in the town and would help counterbalance the current growing population.
"I think it's great. We need all the areas we can get around here. With all the land restrictions and privately owned lands you're limited in the areas you can hunt, so this is a good addition."
Bottoms joins about 75 others state-managed wildlife areas
The Bottoms joins about 75 additional state-managed wildlife areas. Its design is still on the drawing board, but Gray said it could be returned from drained field to its original wooded lowlands. "We just acquired the property, and we haven't developed a management plan. We may plant it back into bottomland area." This could include planting native bottomland trees, such as swamp white oak, pin oak, or swamp chestnut.
Local hunters said the land would become a popular stop for nature enthusiasts, but worry about its management.
"Any 400-acre wildlife area is going to have to be properly maintained by the state. With the limited area, it would have to be a drawing (lottery) area, like Green River," said Allen. "The best thing about this wildlife management area is that people who don't have a farm, or don't have access to a farm, can go out there and hunt without worrying about getting approval (by the owners), if they are lucky enough to be drawn."
Former owner Jim Spurlin agreed that the land was good hunting and said he hated to let it go. "When I got out of college I purchased it, and it's been a bittersweet thing to move on in my business interests," said Spurlin, owner of Lancaster's Spurlin Funeral Home. "My heart's in the funeral business now."
As a result of Spurlin's new interests, the game of Lincoln County will have more room to roam. But Ramey said he expected the new wildlife habitat would benefit more than one type of mammal.
"It's bound to bring people into the area, and any time you bring people into the area it's good for the merchants and good for the community. Along with the lake, it should be very beneficial to the people in the area, the community and the state," said Spurlin.