Green River Basin

The Green River is an incredibly valuable natural resource, and KWA puts a lot of resources in the Green River Basin to protect and restore this national treasure.

What makes the Green River so special?

It is considered the forth most biologically diverse river system in the United States. The river supports 150+ known species of fish and over 70 mussels. This is largely due to the slow natural meander of the Green River creating diverse habitats.

Proof of its unique biodiversity, there are 43 species found in the Green River that are found nowhere else in the world. Take a look at the list here.

The Green holds claim to “Kentucky’s longest river” because its entire 384 mile course flows within the boundaries of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as opposed to longer rivers which dip into other states. Fifteen miles of the river flows through and drains Mammoth Cave in Edmonson County – the longest known cave system in the world.

Those are just a few of the reasons KWA works to protect and preserve this unique ecosystem.

What is KWA doing to protect and restore the Green River?

Permit review – KWA is a watchdog for requested permits in the 9,230 square-mile watershed, fighting unjust pollution before it happens.

KWA, and multiple partner organizations host annual cleanups to rid the Green of trash and educate volunteers on the importance of this resource.  Attendees are given a canoe rental, a tee-shirt, a water bottle, lunch and an amazing experience just for helping.  Green River Fest is held in June in Munfordville, KY.  You can look at some of the past events here, here and here.  Clean the Green is held every August in Greensburg, KY.  Sound like an event you want to be a part of? Sign up for our e-notifications to receive alerts for early event registration.

The Bacon Creek Watershed Council began in 2001.  Bacon Creek flows over 30 miles through Larue and Hart counties before draining into the upper Green River.  This award winning community group has successfully hosted dozens of cleanups, cost-shared the replacement or repair of residential septic systems and agricultural best management practices, and eliminated over 100 straight pipes by installing a sewer line.  The Council has made Bacon Creek, and therefore the Green River, a cleaner and safer creek.  Learn more about their past successes and current projects to improve the quality of this key Green River tributary.

The Upper Green River Watershed Watch Project is a cooperative nonprofit umbrella organization covering volunteer samplers from the project area of 18 counties. The mission of the project, which began in 2001, is to recruit and train volunteers to monitor water quality in the community.  Visit the website here.

Lower Green River Watershed Watch

Green River Summit, on February 20-21, 2014, peers, government agencies and experts shared ideas and built synergy around protecting this incredibly biodiverse treasure to Kentucky and the nation.

Partner organizations working in the Green River Basin

Disposing of Green River Lock and Dams

KWA has been involved in a large partnership effort that has made major strides in disposing of several locks and dams on the Green River.  In spring of 2017, Green River Lock and Dam 6 was removed!




Others instrumental in this collective effort include: US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA-Farm Services Agency, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Geological Survey, National Park Service, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Division of Conservation, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky Division of Water, Campbellsville University, Eastern Kentucky University, Tennessee Technical University, Western Kentucky University


Green River Watershed Section 729 Initial Watershed Assessment

Review plan posted for the Green and Barren Disposition Study –   Green River Locks and Dams 3 4 5 and 6 And Barren River Lock and Dam 1 Disposition Study- Final Web version 24 October 2013

Link to full US Army Corps of Engineers Disposition Study Draft Report

DOI Comments on USACE Chief’s Report Green River LDs & Barren River LD, KY


The Nature Conservancy has been working in the Green River watershed for some time as well.  You can read all about their efforts on their webpage, but while you’re here, take a minute to watch this video TNC produced about the Green River.


WKU Upper Green River Biological Preserve – comprises 1,520 acres of land, and stretches across both banks of the Green River in Hart County, Kentucky. The mission of the WKU Green River Preserve is to foster knowledge and protection of this highly diverse region and our natural heritage through research, education, and conservation.UGRBP_GeneralUseMap2013_canoeramp





Green River Maps

Map – Upper Green Watershed

Map – Lower & Middle Green, Pond, & Rough Watersheds

Map – Barren Watershed

What opportunities are there in the future?

We are on the verge of a massive opportunity to reclaim several critical miles of this rare and diverse biological treasure back to its natural state. Stayed tuned for additional information about the Green River Disposition Study, restoring natural habitat, allowing free movement of aquatic species through the river channel, and more.