Conservation partners reforest former EKY mine site

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 3:20 PM EDT
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BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - In 2019, The Nature Conservancy bought 253,000 acres of land in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. The purchase was part of the Cumberland Forest Project. It has 55 acres alone in Kentucky.

“It’s a project that we really seek to demonstrate that sustainable forestry, community economic development and, you know, public recreation are all compatible with conservation,” said Danna Baxley, Director of Conservation with The Nature Conservancy.

75 volunteers from Beam Suntory spent most of Tuesday planting White Oak and Shortleaf Pine Trees at a former mine site in Bell County.

The Nature Conservancy, along with Green Forests Work, has planted nearly 100,000 trees on a 100-acre tract of land in the county. Experts say the trees react well to the soil on mine sites.

“A lot of the research I do with the University [of Kentucky], we’ve shown that trees on these sites are growing statistically similar to those on a non-mine site,” said Dr. Chris Barton, Green Forests Work President and Founder.

Dogwood and Cherry trees will be among the White Oak and Shortleaf Pine Trees. Experts added a mixture of different species is better for the land.

“With this land being ripped up and plowed like it is, is that it gives an opportunity for wind to blow native seed in,” he said. “And birds to drop seed and things like that.”

Beam Suntory uses White Oak for its Bourbon barrels. The company pledges to plant more White Oak Trees than it uses by 2040. Its goal this year is to plant 125 thousand trees with 75 thousand of those in the area.

“One of our focus areas is all about forests and replanting healthy, sustainable and resilient forests,” said Kim Marotta the Global Vice President of Environmental Sustainability. “And this is one key area and one opportunity for us to make a difference.”

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