A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar Highlights Two Proposed Projects in Kentucky to Promote Outdoor Recreation, Conservation
Projects Will Be Part of 50-State Report
WASHINGTON — Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of Kentucky that will be included in the final report — representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
The extension of the Kentucky River Water Trail and Dawkins Line Rail-Trail are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report — two in every state — as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Steve Beshear and the state of Kentucky, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders. The full 50-state report will be released in the coming weeks.
“Under the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of Kentucky and communities across America and working with them on locally-based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said. “My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”
The two projects in Kentucky highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Kentucky River Water Trail
The Bluewater Trails Program of Kentucky's Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has designated 10 state water trails throughout the Commonwealth, including the Kentucky River Water Trail southeast of Lexington. A 19-mile section of the river was designated a state water trail and a National Recreation Trail on National Trails Day in 2011.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Riverkeepers, and the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (program are partnering to extend the water trail upstream with an eventual goal of a water trail along all 400 miles of the river. The water trail currently includes Pool 9 and will eventually reach Pool 14 in Lee County. The commonwealth of Kentucky highlights this water trail as one of Kentucky's wild-adventure tourism attractions.
Dawkins Line Rail-Trail
The proposed 36-mile-long Dawkins Line has the potential to be become the commonwealth of Kentucky's longest rail-trail, doubling the miles of rail-trail in the commonwealth. This unused rail corridor stretches from West Van Lear in Johnson County, through Magoffin County, to Evanston in Breathitt County. It was named after the former Dawkins Lumber Co.. This scenic, heavily-wooded corridor features 35 trestle bridges and a pair of tunnels — the 662-foot-long Gun Creek Tunnel and the 1,555-foot-long Carver Tunnel.
The commonwealth purchased the corridor from the R.J. Corman Railroad Group in spring 2011. Kentucky State Parks will manage the rail-trail and has some funds to develop the trail. Additional funds are needed to complete planning for the extension of the trail.
When completed, this rail-trail will bring tourism to Eastern Kentucky and provide invaluable recreational opportunities for residents in an area with a high rate of obesity, diabetes, and heart and vascular disease.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Kentucky, for example, the Department could provide planning and technical assistance through the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program for the next phase of the Dawkins Line Rail-Trail.
The Department could also provide planning and technical assistance to the commonwealth of Kentucky through RTCA to extend the Kentucky River Water Trail from Pool 10 to Pool 14. This section could be designated as a National Water Trail. The Department may support financing for the construction of boating infrastructure at access sites along the trail.
The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus — including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality.
“The America's Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government's role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects already announced, click here.