About Us

About Us

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

Our Story

Taking in the viewWe are a nationally accredited nonprofit that uses a science-driven and community-minded approach to protect Kentucky’s irreplaceable wildlands. Foundational to ecological, human, cultural and economic health, the benefits of wildlands are vast – maintaining natural systems that sustain life on Earth, allowing wildlife (living things in wild places) to flourish not only for humanity but for their own sake, enabling nature’s recovery and fostering healthy communities. Since 1995, KNLT has protected more than 50,000 acres of wildlands throughout the Commonwealth, ranging from the lush eastern mountains, to the rolling central forests and grasslands, to the meandering western sloughs..

Large, ecologically healthy, and connected landscapes are essential to protecting biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem resilience that in turn safeguards communities. Our approach focuses on increasing and restoring landscape connectivity, and fostering collaboration in ways that transcend arbitrary political boundaries and ideologies. KNLT is committed to fulfilling our mission and advancing the goals in this plan in a just and equitable manner.


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
Brittany Murphy, Wildlands Steward


Kelly D. Bartley, Board Chair
Lexington, KY

Julia Taylor, Vice Chair
Associate, Strobo Barkley PLLC
Louisville, KY

Bert Lyons , Secretary & Treasurer
Former Assistant Adjunct Professor, UofL
Eminence, KY

Rebecca Allan
Visual Artist
Bronx, NY

Bethany Baxter
Attorney, Childers & Baxter PLLC
Lexington, KY

Ivy Brashear
PhD Candidate, University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Greg Davis
Professor, UK Dept of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Lexington, KY

Premalatha Durham
Community Builder
Louisville, KY

Marc Evans
Retired State Ecologist, KY State Nature Preserves
Frankfort, KY

Mo McKnight Howe
Owner, Revelry Boutique Gallery
Louisville, KY

Melanie Ratliff
Business Manager
Louisville, KY

Kathleen Shelton
Philanthropy Advisor
Portland, OR

Zoé Strecker
Visual Artist, Writer & Art Professor, Transy University
Lexington, KY

Zeb Weese
Retired Executive Director, Office of KY Nature Preserves
Frankfort, KY


Hugh Archer
Founding Chair & retired Director of KNLT
Waddy, KY

Dr. Sara Ash
Professor of Biology, Lindsey Wilson College
Columbia, KY

Wendell Berry
Farmer & Author
Port Royal, KY

Donald S. Dott, Jr.
Chair, Kentucky Land Trusts Coalition
Louisville, KY

Susan Hamilton
Conservation Planning Consultant
Louisville, KY

Laura Keller
Retired Attorney, Stites & Harbison
Lexington, KY

Erik Reece
Author & English Professor, University of Kentucky
Versailles, KY

Director Emeritus

Judith McCandless, KNLT Founder
CPA & Former Environmental Planning Consultant
Louisville, KY

Edward Allgeier
Former Real Estate Appraiser, Allgeier Company
Louisville, KY

Carl Breeding
Attorney, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
Frankfort, KY

Roy Crawford
Mining & Forensic Engineer, R.R. Crawford Engineering
Whitesburg, KY

Laurel Fuson
Louisville, KY

James G. Kuhns, Sr., M.D.
Retired Pathologist
Louisville, KY

John Potter
Former State Circuit Court Judge for Jefferson County
Louisville, KY

Jack A. Wilson
Former Administrator in Environmental Protection
Lexington, 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:

logo_scp logo_wildwaysnetlogo_kltc
logo_kwoalogo_kcclogo_kyww logo_krc

Private Partners:


News & Wildlands Blog

  • Laurel Gap Preserve Established (4/22/2022) We are celebrating Earth Day with the announcement of our newest preserve. Earlier this spring KNLT protected 269 acres of wildlands establishing the Laurel Gap Preserve on Pine Mountain in Whitley County. The new preserve is within one of the most remote stretches of the mountain along the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. Laurel Gap builds upon a network of more than 8,000 acres of connected…
  • 20 Years of Wildlands Conservation (3/30/2022) KNLT is celebrating Donna Alexander and her 20 years of service to wildlands conservation. From Blanton Forest to Warbler Ridge Donna has played a key role in advancing conservation along Pine Mountain and throughout the Commonwealth. She has helped protect over 50,000 acres from the mountains of eastern Kentucky to the sloughs of western Kentucky. A love of mountains and the outdoors…
  • Salt Trace Gap Preserve Expands (3/25/2022) Over the winter Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) protected an additional 431 acres of wildlands on Pine Mountain in Harlan County. KNLT worked with a local family and a regional company to acquire two separate tracts of land that expanded its Salt Trace Gap Preserve to 2,391 acres. The newly safeguarded wildlands protect forested habitat and headwater streams within a migratory corridor that stretches through…
  • Warbler Ridge Expands to Over 3,000 Acres (1/31/2022) Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) has been working with a diverse group of landowners along Pine Mountain for decades. Over the last few years, a series of five KNLT acquisitions in Harlan and Letcher counties established the Warbler Ridge Preserve which now protects 3,045 acres of vital forested habitat, headwater streams and links of the unfolding 1,800-mile Great Eastern Trail. At the end of 2021,…

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.



2020 Financials:

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 © 2023