FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, a program of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves, has acquired 2,040 forested acres in Bell County for the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail.
This property will provide hiking, birding and other passive recreation opportunities as well as conserve a habitat for rare species, including the federally-listed Northern long-eared bat and several state-listed plants.
“Pine Mountain is truly one of Kentucky’s natural treasures, and the Pine Mountain Trail plays an important role in helping folks experience and enjoy the mountain,” said Zeb Weese, KHLCF chairman and executive director of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves. “Once the trail is completed this property will be the access point closest to Pineville and Pine Mountain State Resort Park.”
The KHLCF has funded thousands of acres on Pine Mountain, including the nearby Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve, Kentucky’s largest old-growth forest. All KHLCF sites have management plans in place to ensure they remain focused on conservation and compatible recreation.
The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail is coordinated by the Kentucky Department of Parks in partnership with other organizations. “This land purchase will add about 4 miles to the Pine Mountain Trail and is another important step in the development of this trail,” Parks Commissioner Donnie Holland said. “The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail helps promote tourism in the region and we’re proud to partner with the KHLCF on this project.”
Holland said that it is hoped that the trail will eventually connect Breaks Interstate Park with Cumberland Gap National Historic Park over 120 miles away.
The KHLCF program is funded from license plate sales, environmental fines, and other sources. Weese thanked all Kentuckians who purchase “Nature’s Finest” license plates each year, as they help make conserving these places possible.
For more information on Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail and other natural areas, go to https://eec.ky.gov/Nature-Preserves/.