About Us

Eastern newt, red eft stage ~ photo by Greg Abernathy, KNLT


Our Story

Taking in the viewWe are a state-wide land trust committed to preserving our diminishing natural places, protecting our rich biodiversity and ensuring a future that will continue to inspire new generations of environmental stewards.

Kentucky Natural Lands Trust was established in 1995 when a state inventory identified Blanton Forest as one of the most important natural areas in Kentucky and funds were urgently needed to protect it. A group of longtime friends and some of Kentucky’s top conservationists joined forces to form KNLT and launch the campaign to raise funds for preservation of Blanton Forest, the largest old-growth forest remaining in the state.

Our efforts have expanded into a variety of conservation projects across the state and currently include the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor, the largest landscape level project ever undertaken in the state. Through partnerships with government agencies, nonprofits, corporations and private individuals we have protected thousands of acres of wildlands.


Our People

KNLT OutingStaff

Greg Abernathy, Executive Director
Donna Alexander, Program Manager
Preston Lacy, Conservation Director
Nicole Breyette, Development Director
Angie Allman, Development Coordinator
Derrick Lindsay, Stewardship Coordinator


Kelly D. Bartley, Board Chair
Attorney, Dentons Bingham Greenebaum LLP
Lexington, KY
Laurel Fuson
Louisville, KY
Julia Taylor, Vice Chair
Associate, Strobo Barkley PLLC
Louisville, KY
Mo McKnight Howe
Owner, Revelry Boutique Gallery
Louisville, KY
Bert Lyons , Secretary & Treasurer
Former Assistant Adjunct Professor, University of Louisville
Eminence, KY
Laura Keller
Retired Attorney, Stites & Harbison
Lexington, KY
Rebecca Allan
Visual Artist
Bronx, NY
Melanie Ratliff
Business Manager
Louisville, KY
Edward Allgeier
Former Real Estate Appraiser, Allgeier Company
Louisville, KY
Kathleen Shelton
Philanthropy Advisor
Portland, OR
Donald S. Dott, Jr.
Chair, KY Land Trusts Coalition
Louisville, KY
Herb E. Smith
Co-Founder Appalshop, Filmmaker
Whitesburg, KY
Marc Evans
Retired State Ecologist, KY State Nature Preserves
Frankfort, KY
Zeb Weese
Executive Director, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves
Frankfort, KY


Dr. Sara Ash
Professor of Biology, University of the Cumberlands
Williamsburg, KY
Erik Reece
Author & English Professor, University of Kentucky
Versailles, KY
Wendell Berry
Farmer & Author
Port Royal, KY
Zoé Strecker
Visual Artist, Writer & Art Professor, Transylvania University
Lexington, KY
Susan Hamilton
Conservation Planning Consultant
Louisville, KY

Directors Emeritus

Judith McCandless, KNLT Founder
CPA & Former Environmental Planning Consultant
Louisville, KY
James G. Kuhns, Sr., M.D.
Retired Pathologist
Louisville, KY
Carl Breeding
Attorney, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
Frankfort, KY
John Potter
Former State Circuit Court Judge for Jefferson County
Louisville, KY



Partnerships are key to our conservation successes. With limited funding for land acquisition partnering and collaborating with local, regional and global organizations is essential to our effort. We have successfully cultivated a strong and wide-reaching group of private, nonprofit and government agency partners.

Federal Partners:


State Partners:


Nonprofit Partners:

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Private Partners:



News & Wildlands Blog

  • Legacy of Leadership (2/22/2021) - by Kelly Bartley, KNLT Board Chair The scope, impact and success of KNLT’s conservation movement has grown in large part due to our board leadership. KNLT has been fortunate to have a stellar array of board members from across Kentucky and around the country who have committed themselves to protecting, connecting and restoring wildlands. Noteworthy ...
  • Thinking Like a Planet (12/21/2020) - More than 50 years ago Aldo Leopold defined a land ethic with a call to “think like a mountain,” a holistic view of our place in the ecosystem. More recently J. Baird Callicott expanded Leopold’s concept by defining an Earth ethic with a call to “think like a planet,” a broader view of our place ...
  • Annual Report 2020 (12/18/2020) - This year marks KNLT’s 25th anniversary and a notable benchmark – together we have protected more than 50,000 acres of wildlands! Through the power of partnership, we have safeguarded wild places, from the mountains of Central Appalachia to the sloughs of the Mississippi River. The following are a few highlights from 2020: – KNLT protected ...
  • KNLT Establishes the Warbler Ridge Preserve on Pine Mountain (12/2/2020) - Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) protected an additional 1,368 acres on Pine Mountain near Cumberland, Kentucky, establishing the Warbler Ridge Preserve. The preserve combines this newly acquired tract with land protected in 2017, creating our largest preserve totaling 2,456 acres. This is one of the most unique conservation projects in our history. This project builds ...

Visit our News Archive & Wildlands Blog Archive.


Strategic Plan

The Plan

The Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) 2015-2020 Strategic Plan will serve as a guide toward implementing KNLT’s goals for the next five years. This executive summary provides an overview of the Strategic Plan. It is our hope that this Plan will guide us on the path to protecting, connecting and restoring, for current and future generations, all the beauty and benefits of our Kentucky wildlands.


KNLT is a statewide land trust committed to preserving our diminishing natural places, protecting our rich biodiversity and ensuring a future that will continue to inspire new generations of environmental stewards.

Our First 20 Years

KNLT began 20 years ago when a group of friends came together to protect Blanton Forest, the Commonwealth’s largest known old-growth forest. The endeavor resulted in the establishment of a state nature preserve that continues to grow in size with KNLT's assistance.


  • Established and expanded Blanton Forest, a 3,510 acres state nature preserve that protects the largest remaining tract of old growth forest in the state
  • Launched the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor, the largest conservation effort in Kentucky history, to protect the 125-mile long ridgeline in southeastern Kentucky
  • Protected over 7,000 acres of wildlands through direct purchase, primarily on Pine Mountain and near Bernheim-Fort Knox
  • Assisted in protecting over 25,000 of wildlands across the state (e.g. Big Bone Lick State Park, Clarks River National Wildlife Refugee, Big Rivers WMA/State Forest)
  • Evolved into a key conservation organization in state and region with private, nonprofit and government agency conservation partners

Our successes come from a dedicated board and staff, extensive partnership network and committed donor base.

Current Efforts & Opportunities

KNLT works to protect, connect and restore wildlands that embody the natural beauty and heritage of our state, from the eastern mountains to the western swamps. Wildlands both sustain and inspire us. They are home to many unique plants and animals that collectively form a living support system that provides clean water to drink and air to breath. Large connected landscapes that protect wildlands and migratory corridors are essential to establishing resilient areas that enable species and natural communities to adopt and survive as climate shifts.

Kentucky is a reflection of the world, a place of amazing biodiversity under intense pressure from natural resource extraction and urbanization. Wildlands are critically important to sustaining local, regional and global communities; they are a foundation and essential part of the transitional economy. We must work to protect our sacred land, air and water. Having lost so much already, it is essential that we protect and steward what remains.



2019 Financial Audit and 990:

KNLT Audit KNLT 990


Contact Us

email: info@KNLT.org
phone: (859) 986-0744
mail: 433 Chestnut Street, Berea, KY 40403
physical address: 213A Short Street, Berea, KY 40403
We welcome visitors but recommend calling to make sure we aren't out protecting wildlands.

Protecting, Connecting & Restoring Wildlands

Kentucky Natural Lands Trust • (859) 986-0744 • info@KNLT.org • Copyright © 2021