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Preserving Kentucky’s Largest Old Growth Forest

KY - Kentucky Natural Lands Trust recently purchased 400 acres in the old growth Blanton Forest, which provides critical habitat for the federally listed Indian bat.
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Preserving Kentucky’s Largest Old Growth Forest

Kentucky Natural Lands Trust recently purchased 400 acres in the Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve, the first addition to Kentucky’s premier old growth forest in ten years.

The land trust was able to complete the purchase by tapping transportation dollars obligated under the Endangered Species Act for replacing Indiana bat habitat disturbed when U.S. 119 was rebuilt across Pine Mountain, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The purchase connects two disjunct tracts within the nature preserve design and will add buffer to the 2,350 acres of old growth trees. Blanton Forest is Kentucky’s largest remaining old growth forest and the 14th largest uncut forest east of the Mississippi River. In partnership with the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, the land trust has helped acquire more than 3,100 acres for Blanton Forest, Kentucky’s largest nature preserve.

The 400 new acres add to the protected landscape level forested migratory corridor through the coal fields of eastern Kentucky. Through the Pine Mountain Legacy Project, KNLT is striving to preserve and protect Pine Mountain’s ecologically significant natural areas like Blanton Forest by providing an ecological corridor and contiguous forest block for plants and animals and encouraging long term environmental stewardship.

Pine Mountain spans well over 120 miles and forms the northwest border of the Cumberland Mountain Ecoregion. It is home to many species of rare plants and animals, and, because of the numerous caves, harbors federally endangered bats and even endemic animals known from nowhere else in the world. The Blanton Forest addition provides critical habitat for the federally listed Indian bat.

The land trust continues to raise funds for the stewardship of these natural areas as well as for new acquisitions. The next acquisition will be nearly 2,000 acres of forested wild lands in Whitley County which will anchor the project on the southern end of the mountain.

Kentucky Natural Lands Trust is a statewide land trust working with the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and other organizations to secure funds for the protection of natural land and its long-term stewardship and to serve as a resource and partner to other land trusts and conservation groups.

The land trust relies on private donations, grants and corporate contributions to secure funding for these efforts. To date, the land trust has raised more than $5 million for its land preservation and stewardship efforts.

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Photo by Marc Evans
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