We Saved Climax and Little Egypt!
Little Egypt is a great example of the power of community opposition, which resulted in the Forest Service canceling its proposed timber sale.
Here’s a bit of background:
In August 2010, the US Forest Service proposed the Crooked Creek Vegetation Management Project. This project proposed to commercially log the Daniel Boone National Forest on the hills above Climax Spring and Salamander Springs Farm in Rockcastle County. The proposal included the construction of “temporary” roads and the use of herbicide to kill both native trees considered undesirable by the Forest Service and invasive species that will likely colonize the logged areas. Some areas that were proposed for logging are as old as 160 years. The forests here are healthy, diverse, and in some places, like in the area known as “Little Egypt,” are developing old-growth characteristics.
Kentucky Heartwood acted quickly to inform local citizens about the proposal and conducted fieldwork to determine the health and age of the forest blocks proposed for cutting.
Kentucky Heartwood organized well-attended meetings with concerned local citizens in Mt. Vernon and the Madison County chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC). These meetings resulted in a growing and informed opposition to the extensive logging and herbicide use proposed by the Forest Service. This opposition included a Citizen’s Alternative letter and petition, along with many formal comments submitted to the Forest Service.
In September of 2012, two years after the project was proposed, the community received word that the Forest Service had decided to withdraw the Crooked Creek Project, and would not be logging Climax and Little Egypt or risking the area’s springs and karst ecosystems with herbicides. The Forest Service wrote: “Basically, the NEPA process worked. We received a number of comments expressing concerns about impacts to the natural springs and the unique features in the area so we took another look at the area and conducted additional resource analysis. Testing showed that while the potential for impacts to the watershed was not great, it was high enough that we decided not to proceed.”
This incredible victory was a result of the organizing effort that brought together environmentalists, area residents, local businesses, and representatives from the county government. It would not have been possible without the support of our members, donors, and volunteers. While many people deserve thanks, special recognition goes out to Rockcastle County Judge Executive Buzz Carloftis, Lynn Tatum of the Rockcastle Development Board, Melanie Abbott, and Chris Smith, all of whom were invaluable in demonstrating to the Forest Service that conserving these forests was in the best interest of the county and its residents. Lastly, the Forest Service deserves credit for listening to the public and deciding to withdraw the proposal. The decision was ultimately theirs, and they made the right one.