New community fund will help preserve and protect the Licking River

The Licking River is a historic and natural treasure for Northern Kentucky and all of Kentucky.

The 303-mile long tributary is used extensively for recreation, including boating, canoeing and fishing.

And the river is a haven for biodiversity. It is habitat for many species of fish, including several that are considered relatively rare, more than 50 species of freshwater mussels, including some that are endangered, and its watershed provides habitat for hundreds of species of migratory birds.

Now, this important waterway is getting help. Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky has joined with community partners to establish the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund, a fund that is meant to support land and water conservation and greenway initiatives in the Licking River watershed.

“This is an exciting, and critical, fund for us to offer Northern Kentucky,” says Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson. “It shows the breadth of partnerships we’re able to create as a community foundation serving Northern Kentucky. Together, we can better address the many diverse needs of our community, including helping to preserve the natural and historical heritage of the Licking River.”

Through the new fund, Horizon Community Funds and supporting donors will gather financial resources to invest in the conservation and stewardship of the river, while helping to raise awareness of its value as a natural, historical, and economic resource.

Within Northern Kentucky, most of the Licking River watershed exists in Campbell and Kenton counties. Several creeks in the area act as tributaries to the river.

The Licking is believed to be named for the many prehistoric salt springs and licks in the region. It has ties to Native American history, as many tribes, including the Shawnee and the Cherokee, inhabited the watershed for thousands of years. It is also linked to the Revolutionary War, the Underground Railroad, and the state’s original bourbon journey.

“The Licking River is central to the story of Northern Kentucky,” says Steve Pendery, Campbell County judge executive. “The streams of 23 Kentucky counties lead to this place, and hundreds of years of the Commonwealth’s history flow along with it. The Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund fills a gap in the tools available to our community to conserve and activate this natural asset.”

“The Licking River brings the people of Northern Kentucky together,” says Chris Kaeff of the Kenton County Soil and Water Conservation District. “It is an essential feature of our shared landscape, our shared heritage, and our shared future.”

He says the new fund will provide critical resources to the public agencies and nonprofits that are dedicated to improving the health of the waterway.

For more information or to make a gift to the Licking River Conservation and Greenway Fund at Horizon Community Funds, visit or call 859-757-1552.



Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, an award-winning journalist, and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.