Environment Politics

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment granting authority to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to sell off an unspecified amount of Daniel Boone National Forest near the border of Tennessee.

The amendment called for the sale of forest lands along U.S. Highway 27 from Burnside, Kentucky, to where the highway crosses the state line.

It didn’t describe exactly what lands would be included, it didn’t define what “along” meant and it didn’t prescribe a specific acreage, said Jim Scheff with Kentucky Heartwood, a public lands advocacy organization.

“What does ‘along U.S. 27’ mean? Does it mean most of the national forest land in McCreary County? Does it mean small parcels along the edge? We don’t know. It’s open-ended legislative language,” Scheff said.

The amendment was one of two that Paul sought to include in the Natural Resources Management Act, but both were ultimately left out ahead of a vote on Tuesday. Ultimately, the bill passed out of the Senate on a 92-8 vote without Paul’s amendments.

A second amendment would have bypassed regular forest service procedures to allow access to parts of Lake Cumberland for the purpose of building a marina, Scheff said.

Paul introduced the amendments after hearing from local officials in McCreary County and surrounding areas with concerns about access to waterways and land sales in the area of the national forest, said Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for Paul.

Cooper said the amendments sought “a small amount of land for development,” which would promote tourism and access to the forest and surrounding waterways.

“The federal government has no business standing in the way of Kentuckians accessing their own natural resources, and I’ve been proud to lead the charge on their behalf,” Paul said in a news release.

“These amendments would provide a much-needed opportunity to increase tourism and support new economic growth in the counties surrounding Daniel Boone National Forest and the Lake Cumberland area.”

The Daniel Boone National Forest encompasses more than 700,000 acres and 21 counties, including the Red River Gorge Geological Area and Lake Cumberland, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It also includes portions of southern and eastern Kentucky, sprawling across forested slopes, sandstone cliffs and three large lakes.

Read the amendment below:

SA 141. Mr. PAUL submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by
him to the bill S. 47, to provide for the management of the natural
resources of the United States, and for other purposes; which was
ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

At the end of subtitle A of title I, add the following


(a) In General.–The Secretary of Agriculture (referred to
in this section as the “Secretary”) shall, in accordance
with any other applicable law and subject to valid existing
rights, conduct 1 or more sales of the National Forest System
land described in subsection (b) to qualified bidders.
(b) Description of Land.–The National Forest System land
referred to in subsection (a) consists of National Forest
System land that–
(1) is located along U.S. Highway No. 27 from Burnside,
Kentucky, through the Daniel Boone National Forest to the
point at which U.S. Highway No. 27 crosses into the State of
Tennessee, as depicted on the map prepared under subsection
(c); and
(2) is identified for disposal by the Secretary.
(c) Map.–As soon as practicable after the date of
enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prepare a map of
the National Forest System land referred to in subsection
(d) Consideration.–The sale of National Forest System land
under subsection (a) shall be for not less than fair market

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.