Broadcast Audubon

Big Rivers Wildlife Management Area and State Forest

Ronald G. Dodson

As Chair of ISC-Audubon and a one-time resident in the State of Kentucky it was good news to recently read about the efforts undertaken by the Nature Conservancy and the State of Kentucky to put together a land deal that will result in the creation of a new Wildlife Management Area and State Forest.

The story below was recently reported by the Louisville, Courier Journal Newspaper and ISC-Audubon believes that this is a wonderful example of efforts that are consistent with the goals and objectives of our Conservation Landscapes of America project (CLFA). While the specific programs of ISC-Audubon that are a part of the CLFA project are aimed at motivating people to practice conservation landscape management, where they live, work and play, each individual landscape should be, to the extent possible connected to a “Conservation Hub” such as the Big Rivers Wildlife Management Area & State Forest. The goal is to create a network of landscapes that range in size from the small, backyard habitat to working farms, to large conservation areas such as just created in Kentucky.

Thousands of acres of lush forests, wildflower-filled meadows and ecologically rich marshes at the confluence of Western Kentucky's Tradewater and Ohio rivers will be protected for future generations under a landmark conservation deal designed to help preserve the state's fragile habitat.

Within the next month, Kentucky will buy more than 4,241 acres in Crittenden County, paying about $12.7 million in one of the state's largest land sales in the past two decades. The state will use a $5.1 million federal grant to help pay for the land.

The site will be added to 2,571 adjoining acres in Union County that the state acquired from the same company in 2011 and dedicated last year as the Big Rivers Wildlife Management Area and State Forest.

Combined, nearly 7,000 acres, or about 11 square miles, will be protected, making it Kentucky's fourth largest state-owned wildlife management area. It's a vital piece of conservationists' efforts to preserve enough land for nature and wildlife and help Kentucky adapt to global climate change and other threats.

"It is by far one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen in Kentucky, and there are some beautiful landscapes in Kentucky," said Terry Cook, head of the Kentucky office of the Nature Conservancy.

The private non-profit land trust on Wednesday closed on a deal to pay an estimated $13.4 million to the land's owner, North Carolina-based The Forestland Group LLC, before selling the land to the state.

It would further Kentucky's effort to build "conservation islands" to help preserve the state's native plants and animals, many of which are struggling as their habitat is lost to cities, farms and roads, as well as invasive species such as the emerald ash borer.

The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund plans to contribute $6 million toward the purchase, said Dick Brown, spokesman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. The fund gets revenue from nature license plates, environmental fines and the state portion of the unmined minerals tax.

"We are blessed in this part of the state with Land Between the Lakes (National Recreation Area) and different places to go," said 1379004949000-INC1087465Curt Buntin, a Crittenden County magistrate. "It will sure be nice to have that (also) in Crittenden County."

Though the county will lose property tax revenue once the state takes ownership, Buntin and Crittenden County Judge-Executive Perry A. Newcom expect that it will be more than made up by an influx of visitors who spend money on motels, restaurants, and recreational goods and services.

In all, Big Rivers is expected to generate about $500,000 in local economic benefits each year, he said.

Like its counterpart in Union County, the new Big Rivers property has a rich cultural history, including American Indian archeological sites, Cook said. And its bluffs along the Ohio River were once used by pirates, he said.

"They would see ships coming down and rob, pillage and murder," Cook said. "There's a very colorful history."

Wednesday's deal and its 2011 counterpart illustrate how Kentucky can succeed at large-scale conservation, Cook said.

That's where conservation advocates and organizations work together to piece together large enough blocks of habitat to help nature survive as development encroaches, forests get further fragmented and the climate changes.

"From a conservation standpoint, where you have smaller, several-hundred acre properties, those are highly susceptible to disturbance," Cook said. "Whether it's flooding, climate changes or a wildfire that gets out of control, they are not really large enough to absorb some of the natural processes that can go on there."

Not only will the Big Rivers property protect nearly 7,000 acres, it is ecologically connected to part of the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, directly across the Ohio River, he said.

As The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal reported in June, Kentucky trails neighboring states in land conservation, with the state largely taking a piecemeal approach to protecting land as agencies with competing missions and priorities sometimes working at odds.

But there has been excellent cooperation with the Big Rivers project, Cook and others said.

"I hope this spills over (and) we can use this platform to talk about the needs to replicate this type of activity," Cook said.

Cook said Wednesday's purchase is the largest land deal that the conservancy has ever worked on in Kentucky, and that, because of its size, it is also taking the resources and participation of several state and federal agencies to complete.

Leah MacSwords, director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, credited the Nature Conservancy for stepping into the negotiations when state red tape had slowed talks down between state officials and The Forestland Group. The conservancy was able to reach an agreement with the company, and then with the state, she said.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources would not have had enough money to buy the land on its own, said Mark Marraccini, department spokesman. "We appreciate our wonderful partners there," he said. "For a long time, it's been recognized as a wonderful piece of land."

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Kitchen sponges and the environment

SpongesMost discussion about kitchen sponges is around the amount of bacteria they can harbor. A study that found some sponges to contain more bacteria than a toilet bowl sent people scurrying to buy more sponges and change them more often.

Sure, the bacteria issue is a very good point, but what about the environment?

How often do you change your kitchen sponge - once, twice a week? Imagine that being repeated millions of times each week around the world. It's a lot of waste, especially given that so many sponges are made from plastics, making them yet another item in our home that's derived from oil.

While changing your sponge regularly is good hygienic practice, try to purchase ones that are made from only from cellulose fiber - and the cellulose is sourced from plantation forests or recycled. Read the label carefully as some cellulose sponges are impregnated with polyester, a form of plastic.

Earth friendly sponge cleaning
To help keep your "green" cellulose sponge free of nasty bacteria, try to keep it as dry as possible between uses. You can sterilize them by soaking for a few minutes in boiled water, or try a dilute bleach/hydrogen peroxide solution. Two of the most highly recommended methods for killing bacteria and molds on sponges according to the US Department of Agriculture are microwave heating of a damp sponge or dishwashing with a drying cycle. So, if you do use an automatic dishwasher, you can make a little more use of it with each load!



References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles

The International Sustainability Council


Green Cities

The Daily Green


Sustainability Campaign

Energy Star

Green Hotels List


$25 Annually $100 Annually $250 Reg / $100 Annually


Sponsors are a critically important part to the success of ISC-Audubon. As a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating sustainability, we offer all of our programs to our members free of charge, and are publicly available for download on our website.

ISC-Audubon is proud to extend the opportunity to select businesses and organizations to become sponsors of our sustainability education and advocacy programs. As a sponsor, your business or organization can realize significant value.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity. 


A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

Read more

You are here: Home Broadcast Audubon Informational Broadcasts Big Rivers Wildlife Management Area and State Forest