Rockcastle River Conservation Program

rockcastle_compressedThe Rockcastle River Conservation Program was formed 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 Rockcastle has the cleanest water in the state of Kentucky, some of the cleanest in the entire region, and is stunningly beautiful throughout the year. At the same time, the area is among the fastest growing areas in the state and millions of dollars are needed to conserve sensitive habitats before they are lost forever to development or mining. While the lower part of the Rockcastle River is protected because it is home to endangered species, the upper areas are still exposed and unprotected and face immediate threats, mainly from tourism and the prospect of a new I-66 interstate.

It’s a massive project, and our goal is to preserve the plants and wildlife for those who use the area for aesthetic enjoyment, solitude, and recreation. The Rockcastle River Conservation Program officially formed in August of 2010. Our first Rockcastle River Program Director has already made a difference stopping the construction of a new bridge. His current and ongoing work is focused on identifying willing sellers to get land protected permanently and preventing new mines from being approved.

Our vision is to see ongoing and long-term improvements in water quality for the Rockcastle River Watershed. Our immediate goals include local education around watershed issues through tours and activities, networking with local, state and federal agencies, raising the profile of Rockcastle protection efforts through press and government outreach, and developing a strong financial base for the ongoing watershed program.

To continue a project of this importance and magnitude, we need your help. It’s an expensive undertaking, and we appreciate and utilize every penny our generous sponsors and donors are able to give. Above all, we need you to act. Staying aware of what is going on and working to stop new mines and I-66 are critical components of preserving and protecting the Rockcastle River and the valley that surrounds it — both for ourselves today and for future generations to come.

Photo Location: Rockcastle River. Credit: Jim Hays.