Both our rivers and forests are essential to the health and well-being of Kentucky's ecosystem.
As the Conservancy enters a new decade, it moves forward with a renewed focus on conserving Kentucky's forests, freshwater resources and wildlife habitats. More than ever before, we will use science, traditional land protection strategies and our own place-based experience to influence policies that enrich Kentucky's biodiversity. This will be accomplished through four areas of strategic focus that best reflect the needs and opportunities for conservation success while enabling people to live, work and play throughout Kentucky in ways that sustain, rather than deplete, its unique natural assets.
Rivers for Life
Why We Care. The United States is the global center of freshwater species, which as a whole, are much more imperiled than terrestrial species. Kentucky harbors one of the nation's freshwater treasures, the Green River, which is considered the most biologically diverse tributary of the Ohio River Basin. The Green River contains an especially diverse concentration of aquatic diversity in an unhindered lOO-mile stretch flowing from the Green River Reservoir Dam through Mammoth Cave National Park, the longest and most diverse cave system on the planet This segment of the Green River harbors more than 150 fish species and more than 70 mussel species.
What We’ll Do. The Conservancy will build on a long history of conservation in the Green River Watershed to protect and restore aquatic and riparian habitats and key ecological processes - the flow of water, the movement of nutrients and sediments, the function of floodplains and river corridors - that sustain freshwater systems across Kentucky, including in the Licking and Upper Cumberland River watersheds. In addition to on-the-ground work in the Green, Licking and Upper Cumberland watersheds, the Conservancy will work with private landowners, conservation partners and government agencies to advance policies that ensure these key processes continue to support biodiversity while providing clean water that meets the needs of local communities.
Why We Care. Nearly 50% of the state's land area is forested especially in Eastern Kentucky where the Appalachian Forest stretches across the southeastern United States to make up the most biologically diverse forest system in the temperate world These forested landscapes provide essential services to both humans and wildlife; filtering and cooling water, purifying air, providing habitat to key species and when managed sustainably, serving as a valuable natural resource.
In Kentucky, about one square mile (640 acres) of forest is lost per week to road creation, mining practices and urban development Reversing this trend will require traditional land conservation actions along with an increased focus on working with private landowners on sustainable land management practices.
What We'll Do. The Conservancy will identify and protect large, core areas of forest that expand existing protected sites with an emphasis on tracts having the potential to adapt to predicted changes in climate. The Conservancy will also develop a Working Forest Program that improves private forest management practices through forest certification and enhances the management of public lands such as the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Why We Care. The Conservancy manages lands to conserve threatened and endangered species and habitats at more than 30 preserves and 1OO conservation easements located across Kentucky — ranging from the state's rugged mountains, valleys and ridge tops in the east... .to the flat bottomlands and sloughs in the west... .to the cave country and gently rolling Bluegrass Region in between. Each of these places contributes to a growing legacy of conservation achievements that require costly and continuous management to ensure that future generations benefit from the investments of current and past generations.
What We’ll Do. The Conservancy will manage its preserves and conservation easement agreements to the highest standards and use them to catalyze increased stewardship of other private and public lands. The Conservancy will work with private landowners, conservation groups and public land management agencies to increase the capacity required to maintain and enhance the state's network of private and public conservation lands. We will continue to pursue land protection opportunities that forever protect representative examples of our uniquely Kentucky habitats, and will increasingly provide opportunities for the people of Kentucky to experience these special places.
Campaign for Kentucky's Lands and Waters
Why We Care. The lands and waters that sustain the people of Kentucky and harbor a richness of species and natural communities are increasingly threatened. In fact, it is estimated that Kentucky loses on average 136 acres of forest and 100 acres of farmland each day. More than 6,000 miles of streams in Kentucky are impaired Kentucky deserves better and The Conservancy, along with partners, is seeking an alternative future through the development of a land and water preservation fund.
What We'll Do. By the end of 2008, The Nature Conservancy had supported 164 successful conservation-related ballot measures at the state and local levels in every region of the United States. The Kentucky chapter will follow this lead by dedicating resources and staff time to mobilizing partner organizations and citizens committed to preserving Kentucky's cherished outdoor spaces for future generations. This will be done through establishing permanent funding sources that support the development of a blueprint for coordinating growth with conservation and long-term plan for conserving the best of the Bluegrass State.
At A Glance
Formally chartered in 1975 by a group of local citizens concerned with the state's rapidly disappearing natural lands and waters, The Nature Conservancy's Kentucky chapter has more than 7,000 members, employs a professional staff of 14 and has protected more than 40,000 acres of ecologically important lands in Kentucky and worked with private, state and federal partners to conserve more than 100,000 acres of additional lands.