Laurel Fork Preserve Established

Indiana bat ~ Mark Gumbert, Copperhead

In late December, Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) established the 282-acre Laurel Fork Preserve on Pine Mountain in Whitley County. The preserve combines a newly acquired tract with land protected in 2020. The new preserve is part of over 8,000 contiguous acres of conservation lands along the Kentucky-Tennessee border that include the Archer-Benge State Nature Preserve which KNLT conserved with partners.  

“The Laurel Fork watershed has some of the most remote and biodiverse stretches of Pine Mountain. The terrestrial and aquatic diversity of this area is extraordinary. For more than a decade KNLT has worked with partners to ensure the natural heritage of the area is conserved.” ~Greg Abernathy, KNLT Executive Director 

The preserve protects the forested headwaters of Laurel Fork, a tributary of the Cumberland River and part of the most biodiverse temperate freshwater ecosystem on Earth. These forests are critical summer habitat for endangered northern long-eared and Indiana bat while the streams support populations of the endangered Cumberland elktoe (mussel) and Cumberland darter (fish). 

Laurel Fork Preserve ~ Greg Abernathy, KNLT

For nearly 30 years, KNLT has safeguarded wildlands along Pine Mountain, a biodiverse and climate resilient landscape in Central Appalachia. Pine Mountain provides critical habitat for thousands of species of plants and animals; nearly 200 of these species are considered rare, some found nowhere else on the planet.  

This conservation project is made possible by the power of partnership. We are grateful for support from individual donors, foundations, and partners. We thank the Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Field Office) for supporting this project. 

Projects like these would not be possible without the support of our donors! Join our movement and give today:


2/14/24 — KNLT Laurel Fork Preserve Established Press Release (PDF)

Cover photo: Pine Mountain-Laurel Fork ~ Ted Wathen KY Documentary Photographic Project

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