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
Hugh Archer, Senior Project Specialist
Donna Alexander, Program Manager
Angie Allman, Development Associate
Preston Lacy, Stewardship Director
Derrick Lindsay, Forest Steward


Marc Evans, Board Chair
Retired Senior Ecologist, KY State Nature Preserves
Mo McKnight Howe
Owner, Revelry Boutique Gallery
Laurel Fuson, Vice Chair
Laura Keller
Retired Attorney, Stites & Harbison
Kelly D. Bartley, Secretary & Treasurer
Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP
Bert Lyons
Former Assistant Adjunct Professor, University of Louisville
Edward Allgeier
Former Real Estate Appraiser, Allgeier Company
Sky Marietta
Arts Associate, CEDIK
David Anderson
Vice President, Anderson Wood
Melanie Ratliff
Interior Designer & Community Activist
Dr. Sara Ash
Professor of Biology, University of the Cumberlands
Herb E. Smith
Co-Founder Appalshop, Filmmaker
Carl W. Breeding
Attorney, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
Julia Taylor
Associate, Strobo Barkley PLLC
Penny Brown
Business Owner and Educator
Jack A. Wilson
Former Administrator in Environmental Protection
Donald S. Dott, Jr.
Retired Director, KY State Nature Preserves Commission
Zeb Weese
Executive Director, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves
Susan Hamilton
Conservation Planning Consultant


Rebecca Allan
Visual Artist
Dan Mohn
Development & Philanthropy Advisor
Jim Coffman
Real Estate Broker
John Potter
Former State Circuit Court Judge for Jefferson County
James G. Kuhns, Sr., M.D.
Retired Pathologist
Erik Reece
Author & English Professor, University of Kentucky
Judith McCandless
CPA & Former Environmental Planning Consultant
Zoé Strecker
Visual Artist, Writer & Art Professor, Transylvania University



Partnerships are key to our conservation efforts. 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.

Partner Highlights

Federal Partners:


State Partners:


Nonprofit Partners:

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Private Partners:




  • KNLT Establishes the Henry Bowlin Preserve on Pine Mountain (5/2/2018)- KNLT recently received a very generous donation of family land from Robert and (the late) Dolores Mackey of Corbin. The land, known as the Henry Bowlin Preserve, is located just outside of Frakes on the Bell County and Whitley County line. It was named in memory of Mrs. Mackey’s grandfather, a figure who was well ...
  • Annual Report 2017 (12/19/2017)- KNLT had an amazing year with many conservation victories to celebrate. The following are a few highlights from 2017. – KNLT protected nearly 2,000 additional acres on Pine Mountain near Cumberland, Kentucky creating three new preserves: Line Fork Preserve, Hurricane Gap Preserve and Kingdom Come Preserve. Read More – KNLT purchased and protected a 353-acre ...
  • KNLT Protects 2,000 Acres of Pine Mountain Creating Three New Preserves (10/20/2017)- KNLT has purchased nearly 2,000 additional acres on Pine Mountain near Cumberland, Kentucky creating three new preserves: Line Fork Preserve, Hurricane Gap Preserve and Kingdom Come Preserve. The preserves are located primarily along the north face of Pine Mountain in Harlan and Letcher counties and protect important terrestrial and subterranean habitats for many species including ...
  • KNLT Adds 353 Acres to The Narrows Preserve on Pine Mountain (6/26/2017)- KNLT recently purchased 353 acres of key conservation land on Pine Mountain near Pineville in Bell County. The two tracts acquired protect unique habitats that harbor a diversity of plant and animal life, including the endemic Icebox Cave Beetle found nowhere else on Earth. These acquisitions kept this beetle off the endangered species list. These ...
  • Annual Report 2016 (12/29/2016)- KNLT had another very productive year with many conservation victories to celebrate. The following are a few highlights from 2016. – The acquisition of 2,050 acres outside of Pineville establishing The Narrows Preserve, a key link in the Great Eastern Trail. Read More – The protection of 651 acres between Pineville and Harlan in Bell ...
  • KNLT Recognized for Its Public-Private Partnerships (9/30/2016)- Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) received the 2016 Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary’s Award last week in recognition of the organization’s land conservation efforts and partnerships with state government and other organizations. A statement from the Cabinet said it was recognizing KNLT for its more than two decade commitment to preserving Kentucky’s diminishing natural places ...
  • KNLT Protects Another 651 Acres of the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor (8/12/2016)- KNLT recently acquired three tracts of forestland totaling 651 acres along Pine Mountain in Bell County. The tracts contain a diversity of unique habitats and add to the critically important conservation lands that are already a part of the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor. Over the last year nearly 4,000 acres of forests in Bell and ...
  • Blanton Forest Added to the Old-Growth Forest Network (5/20/2016)- KNLT is excited to announce that on May 20, 2016 Blanton Forest was added to the Old-Growth Forest Network, a growing alliance dedicated to the preservation of unique and beautiful native forests across the U.S. KNLT formed in 1995 to protect the old-growth forest that is now Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve. Our efforts have ...

Visit our News Archive and Wildlands Blog.


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.



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Contact Us

email: info@KNLT.org
phone: (877) 367-5658
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 • (877) 367-5658 • info@KNLT.org • Copyright © 2019