Floyds Fork is a 62-mile tributary of the Salt River with headwaters in Henry County, flowing through Oldham, Shelby, and Jefferson Counties and ultimately connecting to the Salt River in Bullitt County. Floyds Fork was named after John Floyd who was an early surveyor of the area in 1774.
Jefferson County is responsible for the health and maintenance of 31 miles of this natural, living resource.
In 1993, seeing the value of protecting Floyds Fork, Louisville created its first special district, designing it to be an additional layer of protection for the area. They called it the Floyds Fork Special District Development Review Overlay (a.k.a. DRO) which encompasses ~15,000 acres. The Floyds Fork protections have been included in every Land Development Code since 1993 and were included in the 2020 Comprehensive Plan and the current 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Louisville has declared “Floyds Fork watershed is a natural treasure” (SFFAS 17).
There have been three area studies completed on Floyds Fork:
1981: Judge Executive McConnell had the Floyds Fork Management Plan completed (eventually led to the Floyds Fork Development Review Overlay (DRO)).
2006-2010: The first Floyds Fork Area Study is completed
2019-2022: The second Floyds Fork Area Study is completed (South Floyds Fork Area Study - SFFAS); oddly, this study did not include Floyds Fork North of Shelbyville Rd.
All three studies concluded that Floyds Fork is unique and needs special protections to preserve its existing character, uses, and high quality environmental assets, and that Jefferson County should avoid developing this portion of the county.
Ultimately, these studies call for a Conservation Form District of 45,000 acres with Low Impact Development regulations.
- 82% of participants polled strongly agree that maintaining the water quality of Floyds Fork should be a top priority.
- 60% of participants strongly agree with expanding stream buffers.
- Trees currently fill 53% of the South Floyds Fork watershed.
- 67% of participants strongly agree with increasing the tree canopy along Floyds Fork.
- Efforts to protect and expand the the Floyds Fork watershed have profound impacts on Metro-wide goals to increase tree canopy. More trees means cleaner air for everyone!
- Recommendations for MSD to create more stringent regulations for capturing and treating stormwater runoff, raising to the established standard in most cities This would ensure cleaner water quality.
- Overwhelming public support for a different approach to the way we build on or around our streams.
- Innovative water treatment
- Post-construction stormwater quality practices
Floyds Fork is home to the award-winning The Parklands of Floyds Fork, a $150M investment. It boasts 100s of species of birds including the migratory patterns of Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes, Bald Eagles and Osprey. It is home to more than 40 species of fish. It also is habitat for an abundant variety of freshwater aquatic life like mussels, turtles, and crayfish. Additionally, the Fork is native to many mammals including beaver, mink, river otter and bobcat. Floyds Fork is known as an outdoor recreational destination for kayaking, biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and sports of all kinds. It is also a source of inspiration for painters, writers, and even movie makers.
How to kill a Louisville Stream?
In 2017, James Bruggers of the Courier Journal, wrote a fabulous article on the effect of dense development around Floyds Fork.
"One of the surest ways to kill a stream is to build a city around it. Replacing forests and fields with asphalt and roofing prevents rain from naturally filtering into the ground."
The City of Louisville has done this before with Beargrass Creek as it flows through concrete channels.
Floyds Fork isn't just "moving water", it's teaming with LIFE. Which generation wants the responsibility for the death of this natural treasure?
South Floyds Fork Vision
The South Floyds Fork Vision is an area plan for a developing portion of southeastern Louisville Metro, Kentucky, which is one of the more significant natural and rural parts of the county remaining. The area is facing tremendous growth pressures and this plan will provide guidance for healthy, sustainable, equitable, well-connected and authentic growth in the South Floyds Fork area over the next 20 years, covering topics such as land use and community form, transportation and connectivity, sustainability and infrastructure.
The 28 recommendations start on page 91.
The very first recommendation of this multi-million dollar study is:
Apply the Conservation Form District to the current Floyds Fork Development Review Overlay District