We are proud to announce that the Explore Kentucky Initiative was featured in the Kentucky State Nature Preserve Commission’s (KSNPC) biennium report to the governor and the Kentucky state legislature. KSNPC is a state agency that was created in 1976 to protect the best remaining natural areas in the state, to preserve Kentucky's natural heritage, and to help citizens recognize our dependency on healthy ecosystems. In 2016 we moved from being a social media driven movement to promote Kentucky’s outdoors and started to incorporate stewardship, environmental education, and guided programs into our output as an organization. One of the events we hosted was a weekend of guided hikes in Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve, in collaboration with the Kentucky Natural Land Trust, a 22 year old nonprofit land trust striving to protect the 120+ mile Pine Mountain corridor in Kentucky’s Appalachians. Together with Preston Lacy, KNLT Stewardship Director, we took over 40 people on guided hikes in Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve. This is an interesting and diverse tract of land and one of the first properties KNLT helped to protect. Blanton is home to a secondary old growth forest, scenic overlooks, soaring cliff lines, rock shelters, and pristine mountain streams that are home to the Blackside Dace, a threatened species of fish. KSNPC graciously chronicled our excursion and our efforts in promoting adventure tourism, ecotourism, and teaching basic tenets of environmentalism in the report. Also KSNPC featured photography from our director, Gerry James, and Matt Herp, a photojournalist who helped to provide visuals from one of our excursions in Blanton.
Our hopes are that Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin and our state legislature view this report thoroughly and understand the importance of KSNPC and their various partners work in preserving our natural areas, biodiversity, and streams for future generations of Kentuckians.