Land Cover and Forests

Map of the land cover of the Bluegrass
Land Cover of the Bluegrass. Green=forest, yellow=pasture, brown=crops, red=urban. Click for more.

The Bluegrass has been a premier agricultural area of the eastern US since it was first settled in the late 1700s. The wide-open groves of trees interspersed with cane and forest were immensely attractive to settlers because they could begin farming with minimal land clearance. The land cover of the Bluegrass today reflects its importance for agriculture and its increasing urbanization.  The Inner Bluegrass is predominantly urban and pasture, with limited row and field crops.  The predominant pasture use is grazing for horses and cattle.  Substantial groves of Venerable Trees are found in the Inner Bluegrass around farm homes and in pastures.  In the urbanized Inner Bluegrass, Venerable Trees occur mostly as scattered individuals.

Map of forest density in the Bluegrass
Forest density of the Bluegrass. The Hills of the Bluegrass is the most forested region and the inner Bluegrass the least. Click for more.

The Hills of the Bluegrass are less fertile than the Inner Bluegrass and this is reflected in the greater forest coverage. This forest cover is entirely early-successional forest that has become established after the abandonment of less desirable farmland over the last 100 years.  Very few Venerable Trees are found in the forest areas, but there are scattered individuals, some of them of great age.

The Outer Bluegrass is heavily forested in the northeast, with second growth similar to the Hills of the Bluegrass and more mature forest along rivers leading to the Ohio River.  East of the Inner Bluegrass there are substantial groves of Venerable Trees on farms and along creeks and rivers.