Environment

Two of Kentucky’s land trusts are merging, with a goal of protecting land around Louisville and Lexington from development.

The Bluegrass Conservancy — which primarily works in the 15 counties around Fayette County — and the Limestone Land Trust — which covers the eight counties around Jefferson County — announced the merger earlier this month. The new group is the largest regional accredited land trust in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass Conservancy is the older of the two groups. It’s been around for more than 20 years, and in that time has protected more than 26,000 acres of Kentucky land from development. Director Elizabeth Buxton said the primary way the group works is through conservation easements.

“A conservation easement is actually a legal agreement between the land owner and the land trust. And that agreement restricts development on that property and is recorded with the land and runs with the land in perpetuity,” she said. “The land is permanently protected forever and it’s an effective way to preserve the natural resources and the farmland for future generations.”

Buxton says preserving undeveloped land around Louisville and Lexington is increasingly important, as the cities grow and sprawl starts to encroach on neighboring counties.

“This is a very unique and treasured landscape. It includes a lot of the horse farms that obviously a lot of folks know and identify with the bluegrass, but there’s a variety of other agricultural lands that are important to the region, as well as other natural resources,” Buxton said. “And we are very concerned that the increasing development pressures will destroy this landscape that is really defined as the Bluegrass.”

Buxton said the new merged group will keep the name of “Bluegrass Conservancy,” but may change to better reflect the larger service area in the future.

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL. She is also Enterprise Editor.