Quick Takes

Kentucky the final state to enter into federal agreement collaborating on land management

By: - August 10, 2023 5:42 pm

Kentucky and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are touting a new agreement they say will strengthen collaboration between agencies over the management of natural resources throughout the state. 

A Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet release Thursday states Kentucky is the final state in the country to sign onto such a “shared stewardship” agreement with the USDA, which includes the U.S. Forest Service, to better identify and tackle threats to ecosystems. 

“We know that federal, state and private managers of forest land in Kentucky face urgent challenges, among them catastrophic storms, droughts, flooding, insect and disease outbreaks, and invasive species,” Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman said in the statement. “We stand ready to meet these challenges by working with our partners to identify and overcome the threats to forest and ecosystem health.”

Such agreements between state and federal wildlife and forest management officials have been urged, particularly for managing wildfire risk. According to the state cabinet release, the agreement aims to protect air and water quality, minimize the risk for “natural catastrophes,” create shared priorities for land management and help communities mitigate wildfire risk. 

State agencies that signed onto the collaboration agreement with USDA include the Energy and Environment Cabinet, the Education and Labor Cabinet, the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. 

Ken Arney, regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region, in a statement said wildlife and land management leaders in Kentucky “face a range of challenges” from natural disasters, invasive species and lack of resources for managing forests. 

“This shared stewardship agreement provides an incredible opportunity to work with Kentucky in combining skills and resources, to set shared priorities and promote healthy forests on public and private lands,” Arney said. 

A little over 4% of land in Kentucky is federally owned with more than 800,000 acres controlled by the U.S. Forest Service, according to a 2020 report by the Congressional Research Service. 

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Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.

Kentucky Lantern is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.