Wild places sustain and define us; we, in turn, must protect them.
Sen. Rand Paul introduces legislation to sell off Daniel Boone National Forest land. Calls urgently needed!
UPDATE #2: The Senate voted 92-8 in favor of S. 47 without Sen. Rand Paul's amendments. Thank you to everyone who took time to call our legislators in support of our Daniel Boone National Forest.
UPDATE #1: T he Senate will be addressing the Paul amendment, along with other amendments, TODAY (Feb. 12) at 4:30 pm and then move to a roll call vote on final passage. Keep those calls coming!
U.S. Senator Rand Paul has introduced two amendments to the Senate Natural Resources Management Act (S.47) that could devastate the southern half of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. Calls to legislators are urgently needed.
One of Senator Paul’s amendments (S.Amdt.141) would require the U.S. Forest Service to sell an undisclosed acreage of the Daniel Boone National Forest in McCreary and Pulaski Counties. The language directs the Secretary of Agriculture (currently Trump appointee Sonny Purdue) to sell national forest land “along” U.S. 27 from Burnside to the Tennessee border, liquidating a highly biodiverse section of Kentucky’s national forest lands. The bill leaves the acreage and locations solely to the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture, with no limitations or public input. The sale could be anywhere from 1 acre to 150,000 acres, and could potentially affect Beaver Creek Wilderness, the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, Barren Fork, and habitat for a large number of state and federally listed endangered species.
While this particular region includes a great deal of public land, there is ample private land in the Burnside, Pine Knot, and Stearns/Whitley City areas – and in between – that are open and situated for development. In fact, less than a third of the section of U.S. 27 identified for land sales passes through or abuts national forest land (see map at the end of this post). And there are plenty of locations with closed businesses and deteriorating structures in the area that are in need of redevelopment.
The other amendment introduced by Senator Paul (S.Amdt.140) would compel the Forest Service to allow the development of roads and utility right of ways through nearly the entire southern half of the Daniel Boone National Forest to reach “the waterways feeding into Lake Cumberland through the Daniel Boone National Forest in Rockcastle County, Pulaski County, Laurel County, Wayne County, McCreary County, and Whitley County, Kentucky, for the purpose of installing docks, boat slips, and marinas.” This covers the entire watersheds of the Rockcastle, Cumberland, and Big South Fork rivers. These waterways, and the forests that surround them, provide habitat for a wide range of federally and state endangered species and include some of the most cherished and popular recreational areas in the forest.
There are already several shuttered docks and marinas on Lake Cumberland, private areas with existing access, and current business owners struggling to sustain and grow their operations. To the extent that roads or other access are needed to reach any specific locations, the Forest Service can already allow access after following the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and other laws and regulations - including allowing for public input into the process. Senator Paul’s amendment would take away authority and discretion from the U.S. Forest Service and completely cuts out public input.
National forest land is not an impediment to economic development in the southern part of the Daniel Boone, however Senator Paul chooses to spin the issue. Our public land is an asset. Whether Senator Paul is trying to curry favors with donors, or just exercise his ideological opposition the very idea of public lands, it doesn’t matter. He’s wrong, and this awful sell-off of our Daniel Boone National Forest needs to be vigorously opposed.
Calls to legislators are urgently needed.
In addition to Senators Paul and McConnell, please take the time to call other members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and ask them to oppose Senator Paul’s Amendments 140 and 141 to Senate Bill 47, the Natural Resources Management Act. Let them know that Rand Paul is not representing the interests of the majority of Kentuckians.
Recommended legislators to call:
You can see the full list for the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee here.