By Rachel Pressley
In October, the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust established three new preserves by purchasing nearly 2,000 acres on the north face of Pine Mountain near Cumberland, Ky.
In addition to the Narrows Preserve established in March, the areas recently protected are known as the Line Fork Preserve, the Hurricane Gap Preserve and the Kingdom Come Preserve. These tracts of land will also contribute to the Great Eastern Trail, a recreational hiking trail being built from New York to Alabama.
The 125-mile long ridge known as Pine Mountain “is one of the largest tracts of intact contiguous forest remaining in Kentucky,” according to the land trust. Project planners are working to conserve and protect the land that reaches from Jellico, Tenn., to Elkhorn City, Ky. It will eventually be open to the public to access the Great Eastern Trail.
The new preserves connect other protected lands, joining Kingdom Come State Park and the Hensley Pine Mountain Wildlife Management Area and connecting the E. Lucy Braun State Park Nature Preserve to Kentenia State Forest. Part of the Great Eastern Trail will also join Breaks Interstate Park with Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky.
This will connect thousands of acres in the region, conserving habitats for plant and animal species such as the green salamander, migratory warbler, yellow-fringed orchid, black bear and Indiana and northern long-eared bats.