Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund
NEW NATURE PLATES GIVE BUMPERS, LANDSCAPES FACELIFT
Dragonflies, hummingbirds and Cumberland Falls are beginning to appear on Kentucky highways, slowly replacing butterflies, bobcats and cardinals as the images shown on Kentucky’s nature license plates.
The updated nature plate trio lets Kentucky motorists drive home their support for protection and conservation of the state’s scenic and biologically diverse natural areas. Since the program began in 1995, Kentuckians have contributed more than $8.6 million, with no signs of hitting the brakes. Last year alone, $900,000 was generated, which translates to roughly 90,000 cars on the road sporting nature plates on the bumpers.
For canoeists, hunters, birdwatchers and others interested in a healthy environment, nature plates have helped safeguard more than 30,000 acres in 52 counties and counting. These nature plate properties provide habitats for native plants and animals and nature-related recreational opportunities for people. They range from stretches of wild rivers, dense forests, vital wetlands, and gnarled cliff lines to city and county parks, hiking trails, fishing streams, wildlife management areas, outdoor classrooms and other local green space.
The new designs were selected by public vote from nearly a dozen illustrations submitted to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Board, which administers the fund. The images under consideration were displayed at the Kentucky State Fair in 2006 with voting held online and at the fair.
Shannon Martin, graphic artist with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, inked the dragonflies design. Charlie Baglan of the Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources crafted the Cumberland Falls plate. Dawn and David Morrow of Frankfort created the nature plate featuring the ruby-throated hummingbird.
At a cost of $10 above normal registration, an amount which is tax-deductible, nature plates buy property outright and fund studies to safeguard the ecological wealth of the commonwealth. Fifty percent of the funds generated are disbursed equally to the Kentucky Department of Parks, the Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Division of Forestry, Wild Rivers Program, and the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. The balance of the funds is granted to applicants such as local governments, state colleges and universities and other state agencies.
A holder of a current license plate will be sent a vehicle registration renewal notice containing information on how nature plates will be exchanged. The current viceroy plate will be exchanged for dragonflies, hummingbird for cardinal, and Cumberland Falls for bobcat. A motorist desiring a different selection would need to indicate his or her choice on the renewal form. A walk-in may simply ask for the preferred nature plate and may keep the expiring nature plate as a souvenir. To learn more, visit http://www.dnr.ky.gov/heritageland/natureplate or the local County Clerk’s office.