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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 #72 (Summer/Fall 2014) is now available.

· KSNPC's 2014 Photography Contest is now accepting submissions! Learn more here.
·KSNPC's 2014 Rare Plant Report is now available.

· Ben and Pat Begley received the 2013 Biological Diversity Protection Award in recognition of their 27-year tenure teaching environmental education to more than 75,000 students at Pine Mountain Settlement School. (Award Press Release).

· 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.

· KSNPC's 2013 Biennial Report is now available.

· 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 &