Heritage Land Conservation Fund
NATURE LICENSE PLATE SALES MIX GREEN WITH GROWTH; MORE SOUGHT
At the quarterly meeting of the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Board in July, more than 3,213 acres of natural areas were approved to be brought under public protection in seven counties. This puts Heritage Land projects, often referred to as nature plate properties, at 31,523 acres across 53 counties.
Nature license plates feature the hummingbird, Cumberland Falls and dragonflies. These designs, new as of January 1, replaced the butterfly, cardinal and wildcat, but the mission remains the same. Each nature plate sold generates $10 that combines with certain environmental fines and the state’s portion of unmined mineral taxes to form the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund. Nature plates contribute nearly $1 million to this fund annually to safeguard wilderness areas and stretches of wild rivers.
One goal of the board is to have Heritage Land projects in all 120 Kentucky counties. Doing so will require local initiative, said Frank Fitzpatrick of Prestonsburg, a conservation fund board member. Through competitive grants, city and county governments and public schools can purchase green space. By definition, these are areas valuable as habitat for wildlife and wild plants, especially species in greatest conservation need. Purchased from willing sellers, these lands will be preserved in their natural state for public enjoyment, recreation and education for present and future generations. The fund currently has $3.6 million to distribute to qualifying projects.
“These plates almost jump off the bumper at you,” said Fitzpatrick, who also chairs the nature plate marketing and awareness committee. “It’s one thing to see nature plates on the road; it’s another to actually see what they do in the field. Since we started in 1995, these license plates have helped secure some scenic landscapes and key wildlife habitats around the state by keeping them safe from commercial development. From wetlands to cliff lines, and in areas to hunt, fish, hike, explore, and photograph, this growing list is impressive.”
Livingston County has one of the just-approved tracts. In western Kentucky near the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland rivers, the existing 1,024-acre Livingston County Nature and Wildlife Area will grow by 532 acres. This habitat is essential for numerous mammal and seasonal songbird species. The area will also protect the federally threatened Price's potato-bean plant.
The Kentucky Department of Parks plans to acquire 89 acres of open fields and pastures as an addition to Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. This would mark the first nature plate-funded acquisition in Boyle County. Other project areas include the City of London – 85 acres; Marrowbone State Forest in Metcalf and Cumberland counties – 483 acres; Swan Pond State Forest in Henderson County – 1,998 acres; and Terrapin Creek State Nature Preserve in Graves County – 26 acres.
“Having areas like these is a compliment to any community on the move. It’s the perfect mix of green and growth,” Fitzpatrick added. “Displaying a nature plate on your vehicle gives you a sense of ownership.”
Grant application details and the Heritage Land map can be found at http://www.dnr.ky.gov/heritageland.
Images of a hummingbird (top), Cumberland Falls, and dragonflies grace special license plates that help fund the purchase of Heritage Land tracts.