One of Senator Paul’s amendments (S.Amdt.141) would require the U.S. Forest Service to sell an undisclosed acreage of the Daniel Boone National Forest in McCreary and Pulaski Counties. The language directs the Secretary of Agriculture (currently Trump appointee Sonny Purdue) to sell national forest land “along” U.S. 27 from Burnside to the Tennessee border, liquidating a highly biodiverse section of Kentucky’s national forest lands. The bill leaves the acreage and locations solely to the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture, with no limitations or public input. The sale could be anywhere from 1 acre to 150,000 acres, and could potentially affect Beaver Creek Wilderness, the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, Barren Fork, and habitat for a large number of state and federally listed endangered species.
While this particular region includes a great deal of public land, there is ample private land in the Burnside, Pine Knot, and Stearns/Whitley City areas – and in between – that are open and situated for development. In fact, less than a third of the section of U.S. 27 identified for land sales passes through or abuts national forest land (see map at the end of this post). And there are plenty of locations with closed businesses and deteriorating structures in the area that are in need of redevelopment.
There are already several shuttered docks and marinas on Lake Cumberland, private areas with existing access, and current business owners struggling to sustain and grow their operations. To the extent that roads or other access are needed to reach any specific locations, the Forest Service can already allow access after following the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and other laws and regulations – including allowing for public input into the process. Senator Paul’s amendment would take away authority and discretion from the U.S. Forest Service and completely cuts out public input.
Calls to legislators are urgently needed.
In addition to Senators Paul and McConnell, please take the time to call other members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and ask them to oppose Senator Paul’s Amendments 140 and 141 to Senate Bill 47, the Natural Resources Management Act. Let them know that Rand Paul is not representing the interests of the majority of Kentuckians.
- Senator Rand Paul: (202) 224-4343 (DC office), (270) 782-8303 (Bowling Green)
- Senator Mitch McConnell: (202) 224-2541 (DC office), (606) 864-2026 (London), (859) 224-8286 (Louisville)
- Senator Lisa Murkowski (Chair of the Senate ENR committee): (202)-224-6665
- Senator Joe Manchin (Ranking member of the Senate ENR committee): (202) 224-3954
- Senator Ron Wyden (ENR committee member): (202) 224-5244
- Senator Marie Cantwell (ENR committee member): (202) 224-3441