About Us

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

Our Story

We 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 in a just and equitable manner.

1995:
• KNLT was formed by a group of friends and launched a successful campaign to raise the funds necessary to purchase the old growth forest that is now part Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve.

1996-2004:
• KNLT worked with Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission to acquire additional lands at Blanton Forest and provided stewardship assistance.

2005:
• KNLT honored David Burns with the first One Square Mile Award for his commitment to protecting the wildlands of Kentucky.

2006:
• KNLT acquired the 741-acre Arrington property, now part of our Salt Trace Gap Preserve,
• KNLT purchased the 786-acre Parsons tract and later resold the property to the Kentucky Department of Parks for the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail. A portion of this tract later became the E. Lucy Braun State Park State Nature Preserve.

2007-2008:
• KNLT assisted Kentucky Department of Parks in purchasing the 1,027-acre Howard Property as an addition to the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail.

2009:
• KNLT purchased 386 acres in Harlan County to connect two noncontiguous tracts of Blanton Forest Nature Preserve Design.
• KNLT and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Kentucky Ecological Services Field office partnered to establish the Indiana Bat Conservation Fund to help protect bat, forest, and at-risk terrestrial species Kentucky.

2010:
• KNLT received its first donated conservation easement of the 83-acre Good Spring Farm in McCreary County.
• KNLT joined forces with Fort Knox to purchase conservation easements in the forest corridor around Fort Knox and launches the Bernheim-Fort Knox Wildlands Corridor project.

2011:
• KNLT acquired two conservation easements in Bullitt County, totaling nearly 308 acres within the Bernheim-Fort Knox Wildlands Corridor.
• KNLT’s “South America” project was featured on KET’s Kentucky Life.
• KNLT paid tribute to major donors to the Blanton Forest campaign with a permanent plaque at Blanton Forest. Those honored were David Burns, Tom Dupree, Sr., Augusta Wallace Lyons, Herb Emrich, and Sara Shallenberger Brown.
• KNLT purchased nearly 2,000 acres in the area known as “South America” on the southern end of Pine Mountain in Kentucky.
• The Indiana Bat Conservation Fund protected over 2,650 acres of bat habitat.

2012:
• KNLT received a gift of 140 acres that protect an important water source in Bell County. The donated land became the Colson-Fitzpatrick Preserve.
• KNLT’s Executive Director, Hugh Archer, attended the White House Conference on Conservation and the Outdoors, as a representative for Kentucky.
• KNLT purchased 155 acres creating the Crooked Creek Preserve in Bullitt County. The preserve is part of the Bernheim-Fort Knox Wildlands Corridor.
• KNLT sold 1,864 acres to Kentucky State Nature Preserves establishing the Archer Benge State Nature Preserve in Whitley County.
• KNLT was selected for the Land Trust Alliance Excellence Enhancement Program.
• The Indiana Bat Conservation Fund protected over 4,500 acres of bat habitat.

2013:
• KNLT acquired 224-acre addition to Salt Trace Gap Preserve.
• KNLT began its partnership with the Forecastle Foundation.
• KNLT honored the Augusta Wallace Lyons Family with the One Square Mile Award for their commitment to protecting wildlands in the Kentucky.
• The Indiana Bat Conservation Fund protected over 7,150 acres of bat habitat.

2014:
• KNLT purchase 46 acres adjacent to the Archer Benge State Nature Preserve creating the Hyslope Preserve.
• KNLT honored Thomas Dupree, Sr. with the One Square Mile Award for his commitment to protecting wildlands in the Kentucky.
• The Indiana Bat Conservation Fund protected over 500 acres of bat habitat.

2015:
• KNLT sold 386 acres to Kentucky State Nature Preserves as an addition to Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve in Harlan County.
• KNLT expanded the Pine Mountain Wildlands Project targeting 14 new tracts totaling over 9,000 acres.
• KNLT honored Christina Lee Brown with the One Square Mile Award for her commitment to protecting wildlands in the Kentucky.
• KNLT was included in the Royal Visit activities, and staff had an opportunity to briefly discuss KNLT’s work with Prince Charles.
• The Indiana Bat Conservation Fund was renamed to Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund and was expanded to cover the newly listed Northern long-ear bat.

2016:
• KNLT became a nationally accredited land trust and received the Energy & Environment Cabinet Secretary’s Award for our public-private partnerships.
• KNLT purchased 2,050 acres on Pine Mountain near Pineville in Bell County establishing the Narrows Preserve.
• KNLT acquired three tracts of forestland totaling 651 acres along Pine Mountain in Bell County establishing the Calloway Gap and Cumberland River Bottoms Preserves.
• The Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund protected nearly 6,000 acres.

2017:
• KNLT purchased and protected a 353-acre addition to the Narrows Preserve on Pine Mountain.
• KNLT purchased nearly 2,000 acres on Pine Mountain near Cumberland, Kentucky creating three new preserves: Line Fork Preserve, Hurricane Gap Preserve, and Kingdom Come Preserve.

2018:
• KNLT was honored with the opportunity to hold a retreat at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Pocantico Center in New York. The gathering of KNLT leadership, partners and consultants offered a unique opportunity to review our strategic positioning.

2019:
• KNLT purchased and protected a 376-acres in Harlan County establishing the Laden Trail Preserve; the new preserve is adjacent to Kentenia State Forest and near Pine Mountain Settlement School.
• KNLT purchased and protected a 127-acres in Whitley County establishing the Granshire Preserve; the new preserve is adjacent to the Archer Benge State Nature Preserve.

Our People

Staff

Greg AbernathyExecutive Director
Donna AlexanderProgram Manager 
Angie AllmanDevelopment Coordinator
Nicole BreyetteDevelopment Director
Preston LacyConservation Director
Derrick LindsayStewardship Coordinator
Brittany MurphyWildlands Steward
Megan NasemanAdministrative Specialist

Board

Kelly D. BartleyBoard Chair
Attorney
Lexington, KY

Julia TaylorVice Chair
Associate, Strobo Barkley PLLC
Louisville, KY

Bert LyonsSecretary & 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 EvansKNLT Founder
Retired State Ecologist, KY State Nature Preserves
Frankfort, KY

Susan Hamilton
Conservation Planning Consultant
Louisville, KY

Laura Keller
Retired Attorney, Stites & Harbison
Lexington, 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
Midway, KY

Advisors

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

Dr. Sara Ash
Lindsey Wilson College
Columbia, KY 

Wendell Berry
Farmer & Author
Port Royal, KY

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

Mo McKnight Howe
Owner, Revelry Boutique Gallery
Louisville, KY

Tara Littlefield
State Botanist, Office KY Nature Preserves
Frankfort, KY

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

Director Emeritus

Judith McCandlessKNLT 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
Attorney
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

Partners

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:

Private Partners:

News & Wildlands Blog

KNLT Highlights: 2023 Year In Review

Thanks to your partnership Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) continues to protect, connect and restore wildlands in the Commonwealth. Here are a few highlights from 2023: —KNLT protected 2,200 acres

Read More »

Strategic Plan

Coming soon.

Financials

2022 Financials:

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.