Forest Service decision a welcome climax in Rockcastle County

A public outcry has persuaded the U.S. Forest Service to ditch commercial logging plans that threatened Climax Spring in Rockcastle County.

"We take those concerns seriously," district ranger Jason Nedlo told the Herald-Leader's Bill Estep. "The process worked."

Indeed it did.

Not only did public opposition succeed in protecting the spring, which supports a local water-bottling business, it also put a spotlight on a beautiful place that few Kentuckians know about.

Rockcastle County's Little Egypt area offers deep forest, including centuries-old trees; sandstone ridges and rock cliffs, waterfalls and caves that shelter endangered bats.

Kentucky Heartwood, which helped organize the opposition to the commercial logging, and the Forest Service are talking about the possibility of building some trails to give hikers and equestrians access to this part of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Congratulations, too, to Rockcastle Judge-Executive Buzz Carloftis for defending an irreplaceable natural resource.

The Forest Service's decision also means herbicides won't be used to eradicate invasive plant species in an area where some feared the chemicals could infiltrate the spring.

Rockcastle County, an hour's drive from Lexington, already has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts, including the Sheltowee Trace trail and the Rockcastle River, and, when they're ready for a bite to eat and some culture, the Renfro Valley Barn Dance.

In an era when people hunger for authentic places and contact with nature, chain saws and bulldozers are not the only ways to capitalize on Kentucky's forests.

Thanks to the Forest Service and all who played a role in protecting this natural asset.