In the upcoming months we will be featuring different organizations who are helping to preserve and maintain some of our valuable wild places in Kentucky. To kick off the series I would like to introduce you to the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust. Founded in 1995, the KNLT is a state-wide land trust committed to preserving and protecting the rich biodiversity of Kentucky. Even though they are involved in various preservation projects around the state the area where they have had the greatest impact is the Pine Mountain area in eastern Kentucky. KNLT initially formed out of the need to preserve Blanton Forest on Pine Mountain, the largest remaining old growth forest in Kentucky. Since then their efforts have expanded to include over 7,000 acres directly purchased and another 25,000+ acres secured with their assistance. In 2016 alone they managed to secure 2,050 acres outside Pineville establishing The Narrows Preserve, a key link in extending the Pine Mountain Scenic Trail and Great Eastern Trail through Kentucky. KNLT continues their work on the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor, the largest conservation effort in the state’s history which intends to protect the entire 125 mile length of Pine Mountain stretching from Virginia through southeastern Kentucky to Tennessee.
For those looking for outdoor recreation opportunities the Pine Mountain Corridor offers many options. The Pine Mountain Scenic Trail currently runs approximately 42 miles from the Breaks Interstate Park in the north to US 119 in the south with more distance planned in the future. Other hiking opportunities in the area include Breaks Interstate Park, Bad Branch State Nature Preserve, Blanton Forest, Pine Mountain State Resort Park, and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Pine Mountain Zipline Canopy Tours offers zipline tours in Pine Mountain State Resort Park spring through fall. This past summer climbing routes were opened in Breaks Interstate Park thanks to efforts of Access Fund and local climbing supporters.
Organizations like Kentucky Natural Lands Trust are crucial to preserving and protecting the wild areas of Kentucky we so dearly love. For more information on their group and their work go to www.knlt.org.