When Daniel Boone crossed over into Kentucky, he was met with a landscape of diverse and majestic forests rich in wildlife and majestic trees. But by 1930 nearly every acre had been cut. Rather than promote the recovery of intact forests and old growth, the U.S. Forest Service has emphasized commercial logging and the production of timber over native ecological processes, while on private land the second "great cut" is underway. Kentucky Heartwood is working to see the return of the Great Forest in all it's abundance an beauty. Read more here.
The landscape our generation has inherited is one that has been used and abused for many years, leaving it in a condition quite different than the one that our ancestors found. Strip mines, logging, poor agricultural practices, roads, and other activities have scarred the land, damaged streams, and changed the very makeup of the forests in our region. Kentucky Heartwood supports ecologically based restoration projects that have a clear goal and are removed in design and implementation from the commercial imperatives inherent in most timber sales. Too often, commercial timber sales on our public land are thinly disguised as "ecosystem enhancement" or "biodiversity" projects. Stream restoration, road removal, trail relocations, removal of invasive species, and some non-commercial thinning are all activities that can both help restore the integrity of our public lands while creating jobs. An overarching philosophy in our view of restoration is a belief that nature has a wisdom of its own, and knows how to heal the land in its own time. Our participation in active restoration should follow nature's lead and avoid the incorrect assumption that we necessarily know what's best.
Robinson Forest is the largest, intact forest in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. It is managed by the University of Kentucky, an institution that has elevated strip mining and clearcut logging over the preservation of this unique and endagered ecological gem. Nearly surrounded in its entirety by strip mines, Robinson Forest is currently under threat from new mine permits on its border. Read our alert about that hereand learn more about Robinson Forest by visiting here.
Off Highway Vehicles
Off Highway Vehicls (OHVs), sometimes called "Off Road Vehcils, or "ORVs," are widely considered one of the greatest and most challenging threats to our public lands nation-wide. Motorized (w)recreation on our public lands is causing incalculable damage to our water and wildlife resources, diminishing other forms of recreation including hiking, hunting, wildlife viewing, and horse riding, and creating an expensive mess to be cleaned up at taxpayer expense. The predominating culture of disrespect behind this ever-growing misuse of our public lands makes OHV use incompatible with the preservation of our public lands. Learn more here.
Fire clearly had a role in the development and maintenance of the pre-colonial landscape of the lands of the Daniel Boone National Forest of Kentucky. But it is just as clear that large areas of forest rarely or never burned. Kentucky Heartwood supports prescribed fire where there is clear evidence of the need for fire to maintain key fire dependent and fire adapted species and ecosystems. However, the negative impacts of fire on certain species, as well as the serious risks associated with smoke and particulates for at-risk and health-impaired individuals living near prescribed fires has to be taken into account. The science is far from settled, and many burn programs appear to be budget-driven. We question the ecological, economic, and social wisdom behind the widespread, landscape-scale burning program being implemented across the Daniel Boone National Forest. Read more about fire here.
Oil, Gas, and Coal Leases
Kentucky Heartwood opposes he lease of fossil fuels from the Daniel Boone National Forest. Extracting oil, gas, and coal on our public land for private profit fragments the forest, puts watersheds at risk of contamination, and promotes the release of climate destabilizing greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere. Our national forests should be a haven for wildlife and intact ecosystems in this period of accelerating climate change, not a source for the pollutants causing it.
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid
The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is a non-native, invasive insect that is killing hemlock trees across the eastern U.S. The adelgid kills the trees by sucking the juices out of the leaves. After a few years of infestation the tree dies. Current information indicates 100% mortality - every hemlock infested by this insect will die. Already this insect has had a catastrophic effect on the forests of several states, including the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The adelgid is currently spreading in Kentucky, and a wide array of groups and agencies are working to figure out the best way to proceed. While Kentucky Heartwood generally opposes the use of insecticides and other poisons in our environment, we currently support the treatment of hemlock trees in key stands across the forest with the hope that in the future some sort of solution can be found and hemlock trees can remain a part of the Central Appalachian landscape. You can learn more about the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and some of the work to protect hemlocks in Kentucky on the Save Kentucky's Hemlocks website.
More information coming soon...