LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 30, 2019) – Blue Licks battlefield, the site of one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War, might be the perfect example of how the worlds of historical preservation and nature conservation can collide.
It’s where famed frontiersman Daniel Boone led an attack against British and Canadian Loyalists – and it’s also one of only two places in the world where you can find Short’s goldenrod, a federally endangered species.
This kind of overlap is what prompts partnerships between preservation groups like the nature-focused Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund (KHLCF) and the history-focused American Battlefield Trust.
“If there’s a piece of land that has historic value and endangered species value or habitat value, you’ve got to look around and see how many people would really like to see this land protected,” KHLCF Board Chairman Zeb Weese said. “What kinds of coalitions can you put together to preserve it and make it available to the public?”
Because of the efforts of the KHLCF, the American Battlefield Trust, as part of its annual conference in Lexington, Thursday presented the fund with the 2019 State Preservation Leadership Award. The award is presented annually to agencies or individuals in state government that have made a lasting contribution to battlefield preservation.
Weese, who also serves as the executive director of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves, accepted the award on behalf of KHLCF.
Unprotected battlefields are constantly threatened by private development, said Nicole Ryan, communications manager for the American Battlefield Trust. “Having these places destroyed takes away a piece of the American story,” she said.
KHLCF funds the acquisition of natural areas that fall into one of four categories: habitats for rare and endangered species, areas important to migratory birds, areas that perform important natural functions that are subject to alteration or loss and areas important for passive outdoor recreation (such as hiking or bird-watching).
Since KHLCF’s establishment in 1990, the fund has aided preservation of more than 2,700 acres of historically significant battlegrounds that are also natural areas. In addition to KHLCF’s work at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park, the award recognizes the fund’s work at a number of other sites, including Tebb’s Bend in Taylor County and property in Hart County near the site of the Munfordville Battlefield.
In particular, the American Battlefield Trust wanted to recognize KHLCF’s “monumental contribution” to the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, said Adam Gillenwater, state and local relations manager for the American Battlefield Trust. The land, located in Boyle County, was the site of the most important Civil War battle in Kentucky.
The site encompasses 132 total acres, and KHLCF funded the acquisition of 75 acres important to the restoration of native grasses vital to songbirds and other wildlife species. Kentucky State Parks, also honored with a State Leadership Award this year, now manages the land under a KHLCF deed restriction.
Weese said he was thrilled to learn the fund was selected to be honored with this year’s award, particularly since it gave him the opportunity to speak to those interested in battlefield preservation about KHLCF’s conservation efforts.
“It’s more important than ever to look for partnerships and figure out how people can work together and agencies can work together,” he said.