Rockcastle Conservation Initiative


Photo Location: Rockcastle River. Credit: Jim Hays.

The Rockcastle River Conservation Program was formed in 2010 by KWA to conserve land and species and enhance the overall quality of life around this special river. The Rockcastle River and its tributary streams touch the borders of Laurel, Jackson, Rockcastle, Clay, and Pulaski counties of southeastern Kentucky. The program ran through 2013 when funding ended. Since then, KWA has worked with the US Fish & Wildlife Service and other partners on habitat protection and restoration projects.

In 2018, a group of resource professionals from the US Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kentucky Division of Water, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves, Kentucky Heartwood, KWA, and others began to meet and discuss how to protect and restore this special watershed. On July 18, 2019 the group met and decided to adopt the name Rockcastle Conservation Initiative.


The purpose of the Initiative is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to work together toward a
common goal of protecting and enhancing natural resources in the basin.


The Initiative will be a consortium of stakeholders and is open to any interested party. Meetings will be
held on an irregular basis to update stakeholders on progress and to discuss future directions.

Advisory Group
The Initiative will be led by an Advisory Group consisting of 8–10 members. The Advisory Group will
have the following responsibilities:
 Schedule and convene meetings.
 Identify specific projects that would benefit from concerted, multi-partner efforts.
 For each project, identify and solicit partners and assign and coordinate tasks.
 Monitor and report on project progress to stakeholders.

Projects will be identified by the Advisory Group based on input from stakeholders, need and potential
impact, and funding opportunities. Projects may be focused on a specific area (e.g., a watershed) or on a
topical area. In April, 2019, stakeholders identified the following topical areas:
 Forest health and land use
 Water quality
 At-risk habitats
 Recreational opportunities and issues
 Terrestrial and aquatic species

All of these topical areas overlap, which reinforces the interrelatedness of resource issues and the
collaborative nature of the Initiative.

At this time, the Advisory Board will serve voluntarily in addition to their normal professional duties.
Ultimately, the Initiative may benefit from having a full-time executive director or similar point person
whose duties are specific to the Initiative.