Kentucky Heartwood: A History of Grassroots Success
Kentucky Heartwood was formed in 1992 by a nucleus of people concerned about logging, mining, and ORV (Off Road Vehicle) use on the Daniel Boone National Forest. Our no compromise platform opposing motorized recreation and commercial extraction on public, national forest lands and visible advocacy of the forest itself created a much-needed public debate about the best use of Kentucky’s only national forest.
Kentucky Heartwood’s work was conducted entirely by volunteers for its first 10 years. During that time we had remarkable success, including: working collaboratively to cause a 97% reduction in logging; a forest-wide Plan Amendment to prohibit ORV use except on designated trails; the cancellation of a land exchange that would have led to resort development along the Cumberland River; and the involvement of thousands of people in the Forest Planning process.
Today our mission remains the same: to advocate for the greatest protections possible for Kentucky’s public forests, with the twin values of preserving and restoring ecological integrity and a reverence and respect for wild nature as our guiding principles. Through public education, outreach, direct forest monitoring, and the suite of administrative and legal avenues of public participation and recourse, Kentucky Heartwood as continued this tradition of effective advocacy.
Our successes since 2002 include helping to prevent a lease of federally-owned coal under 40,000 acres of the Daniel Boone; twice stopping a proposal to log and degrade Cerulean warbler habitat on 12,500 acres of the Redbird District; helping defeat a 3 mile, 4 lane highway through a significant forest block north of Morehead; holding off the construction of I-66 through the Daniel Boone National Forest between London and Somerset; and filing a significant and ongoing legal challenge to the 2003 Daniel Boone Forest Plan. In 2008 we brought together various organizations and activists and garnered high-profile attention around the University of Kentucky’s plans to clearcut 800 acres of Robinson Forest, one of the largest intact watersheds in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. While the logging ultimately went forward, our actions stimulated an ongoing debate within the state and the University of Kentucky regarding the long-term value and management of this important public forest asset.
Most recently, Kentucky Heartwood filed a successful administrative appeal challenging the Upper Rock Creek Project. This project approved over 800 acres of logging and 7,500 acres of prescribed fire in the watershed of upper Rock Creek, a state Wild River and proposed Wild and Scenic River, and home to populations of the federally endangered Cumberland elktoe mussel and threatened Blackside dace. We challenged the adequacy of the analysis, and the Forest Service’s lack of evidence that the project wouldn’t harm either species or degrade designated critical habitat. The Forest Service ultimately withdrew the decision in response to our challenge.
Council & Staff