Old-growth trees at risk in Kentucky

This logging project will harm old-growth trees, including the world’s oldest documented short leaf pine

Forests

Kentucky Heartwood | Used by permission

Nearly 4000 acres of public land are at risk of being logged, thanks to the Forest Service’s South Red Bird Project in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest. Kentucky Heartwood has found many older and old-growth trees in the area. Tree core data they collected shows that the forest is full of trees that are hundreds of years old and that more than 400 acres of old-growth forests occupy the project area. Among the trees at risk is the world’s oldest documented short leaf pine, which dates back to 1691, as well as the world’s two largest-known Red Hickories. 

The South Red Bird project is a “Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Project.” The Forest Service plans to log this area to create a young forest that provides the perfect habitat for “game” species like grouse and deer that already have ample habitat in the region.

Two endangered bat species, Indiana and northern long-eared bats, call the Daniel Boone National Forest home. They rely on the large tracts of densely canopied forests that mature trees provide to forage and raise pups. Habitat loss has already contributed greatly to their “endangered” status and the logging planned for the South Red Bird project further jeopardizes these species. In addition to its harm on bat species, the logging project increases the risk of landslides that would run into the local watershed and harm fish and mussel species. 

In 2022, Kentucky Heartwood filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The case is still moving through the courts.

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Authors

Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

Aria Kischner

Environment America Intern

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