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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Salamander photo by John R. MacGregor

Protecting Kentucky's Natural Heritage

The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC) participates in an international network of programs that monitor biodiversity. The 1976 Kentucky legislature created the commission to protect the best remaining natural areas in the state, not only to preserve our natural heritage, but also in recognition of the dependence of our well-being on healthy ecosystems.

The plant and animal life in Kentucky, from the bottomland swamps in the west to the rich Appalachian forests in the east, is extraordinary as well as beautiful. Glades, prairies, forests, wetlands, rivers and caves form a biologically diverse web of life that is unique to the Commonwealth. The state's ecosystems are teeming with a diversity of native species from black throated green warblers to lizard skin liverworts. Some of these species are found nowhere else in the world. The aquatic systems of the state are home to rainbow darters, ghost crayfish, salamander mussels and an impressive array of other species that constitute some of the greatest levels of freshwater diversity on the planet.

We invite you to learn more about Kentucky's outstanding natural heritage by exploring our site, and encourage you to visit your state nature preserves and experience this wonderful diversity firsthand.

New from KSNPC:

· Naturally Kentucky #75 (Winter/Spring 2016) is now available. 

· KSNPC dedicated an 88-acre addition to Frances J. Palk SNP. Read more about it here!

· We are deeply saddened to report that the Founding Director of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission has died. Donald Francis Harker, Jr., 68, of Bend, Oregon, passed away on February 25, 2016 from a heart attack. Don had a lifelong passion for environmental stewardship and sustainable economic development and held multiple leadership positions in state government and in the nonprofit sector. He served as the Founding Director of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, from 1977 until 1982 and he later went on to serve as the Director of the Division of Water and the Division of Waste Management in Kentucky. He founded the Kentucky Local Governance Project and served as Executive Director of the Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development (MACED) in Berea, Kentucky. Most recently, he served as a consultant to several nonprofit organizations around Portland, Bend and Wallowa County, Oregon. He was also an Assistant Professor at Pacific Northwest College of Art. He was known for his passion and commitment to bringing out the best in others, bringing purpose to people’s work by making institutions really stand for the things they were created to do, and for being a warrior grounded in love for the natural world and the Earth. In lieu of flowers and in recognition of his lifelong love of birding, donations may be made to: East Cascades Audubon Society P.O. Box 565 Bend, OR 97709 for the Don Harker Memorial.

· Christy Lee Brown received the 2015 Biological Diversity Protection Award in recognition of her significant contributions as a private citizen to the knowledge and protection of Kentucky's biodiversity. (Award Press Release

· Kyle Elliott received the 2015 Volunteer Steward Award in recognition of his years of service to the commission at Pilot Knob SNP. (Award Press Release)

· Katie Joya is KSNPC’s 2015 Photo Contest winner! Her picture of Apple Moss at Pine Mountain SPNP, entered into the Plants and Miscellaneous Category received 63 votes, almost more than double of any other picture. Congratulations, Katie! Please visit our Facebook page to see her winning photo and the photos for our other contest category winners.

 · KSNPC's Biennial Report 2015 and the Executive Summary of the 2015 Biennial Report are now available.

·KSNPC's 2014 Rare Plant Report is now available.

· KSNPC is proud to announce the creation of its 61st state nature preserve.  Dedicated on March 14, 2013, Archer Benge State Nature Preserve protects 1,864 forested acres along Laurel Fork in Whitley County. Read the press release here.

The late William Dennis Benge, of Fort Wright, Ky., bestowed a generous $202,000 donation upon KSNPC. The bequest will enable KSNPC to protect 1,591 forested acres along Laurel Fork in Whitley County. Read the press release here.

We have a traveling photograph exhibit with spectacular images of Kentucky's natural heritage. Learn more here

· The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have confirmed the presence of White-Nose Syndrome in Kentucky. A suspect little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) from a cave in Trigg County was submitted to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (in Athens, Ga., where Dr. Kevin Keel confirmed the disease). Read the press release here.

 · Kentucky's Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity is now available! Read more about the book and view sample pages here

The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our
most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its
renewal, is our only legitimate hope. —Wendell Berry
from The Unsettling of America: Culture &