Thomas P. Dupree, Sr. of Lexington on Monday was presented with the One Square Mile Award by Kentucky Natural Lands Trust for his contributions to protect Blanton Forest on Pine Mountain in southeast Kentucky. The One Square Mile Award honors those who have made donations that meet the financial level needed to purchase 640 acres.
Mr. Dupree was a founding member of KNLT’s board of directors when the organization was formed in 1995. During the campaign to protect Blanton Forest, Mr. Dupree was one of five individuals who made substantial financial gifts or land gifts that helped KNLT and the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission purchase the most important part of the forest. Blanton is the largest known old-growth forest in the commonwealth.
“Tom Dupree, Sr., through his targeted contributions and donation of his time, has provided one of the best gifts ever to conservation biology in Kentucky,” said Hugh Archer, KNLT’s executive director.
As a boy growing up in Harlan, Mr. Dupree took every chance he could to explore Blanton Forest. During those hikes, he developed what would become his lifelong interest in nature.
Mr. Dupree has been an active member of The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky as a volunteer, board member and board chair. In 2013, Mr. Dupree made a gift to The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky that helped make possible the establishment of a 300-acre preserve along the Kentucky River Palisades. The preserve, named for Mr. Dupree, is being used as an outdoor classroom for people of all ages as a way to help foster increased interest in nature. In a 2013 article about the Dupree Nature Preserve in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Mr. Dupree said, “Kids who come out here can get a deep feeling that this belongs to them. This belongs to everybody, and I hope that it gives them a feeling of wealth – natural wealth.”
Mr. Dupree continues to work with Kentucky Natural Lands Trust on four targeted areas with large forest blocks along Pine Mountain that will make up a wildlife corridor in Kentucky. These large forested areas may eventually become part of an expansive north-south wildlands area in the eastern United States.