A group working to create a 125-mile protected wildlife corridor in Eastern Kentucky has added 353 acres near Pineville to its holdings.
The Kentucky Natural Lands Trust announced the purchase in a news release.
The land is an addition to 2,050 acres that the trust bought in 2016 to establish The Narrows Preserve in Bell County, which helps protect the historic gap in Pine Mountain at Pineville.
The new tracts include habitat for a beetle found nowhere else on Earth and help preserve more of the view from the popular Chained Rock overlook at Pine Mountain State Resort Park, the trust said.
The purchase is part of a continuing effort to piece together what the trust calls the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor, from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Bell County to Breaks Interstate Park in Pike County.
Pine Mountain provides habitat for dozens of rare species among its thick forest, bogs, caves and streams. The mountain shelters a third of the state’s endangered species.
It also provides nesting areas and a migratory route for birds, protects the headwaters of the Cumberland and Kentucky rivers, and includes Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve in Harlan County, the largest known tract of old-growth forest in the state.
“This corridor represents a wealth of natural capital that is important to human and economic health and well-being,” said Hugh Archer, executive director of the trust.
The corridor would include a section of the planned Great Eastern Trail, an 1,800-mile route between Alabama and New York.
The trust has added more than 4,000 acres in Bell and Harlan counties to the corridor in recent years.
It used money from donors and a fund of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aimed at protecting endangered bats for the latest purchase.