Conservation & Preservation: State Nature Preserves

Conservation & Preservation: State Nature Preserves

Hello all!

How is everyone? Long time no see!  I want to first apologize for my absence from blog writing.  For the past couple of months, writing and finishing a dissertation has consumed my life.  But, I am back to talk to you about environmental issues and awareness.  The first blog I wrote for Friends of Limestone was on conservation and preservation.  More specifically, I discussed some ways the state of Kentucky practices conservation and preservation.  Now that I am back writing blogs for you, I want to build off that blog and discuss more practices of conservation and preservation in the state of Kentucky.  We will begin with State Nature Preserves!

State Nature Preserves are/is:

  • A geographic area preserved by the state of Kentucky.
  • Not unique to Kentucky but exist all across the U.S!
  • Preserved for natural significance, scientific/educational purposes, and/or to protect rare species/natural environment.
  • Open to the public to visit and explore
    • However, some are not open to the public

Kentucky has a total of 58 State Nature Preserves.  33 of which are open to the public.  Here’s a version of the map seen above showing the location of all State Nature Preserves in the state of Kentucky.  So, go exploring! For the purposes of this blog, I want to showcase three in Jefferson County and around the city of Louisville.  I believe sometimes we can feel detached from nature while living within urban locales.  So, I have chosen State Nature Preserves in Louisville and Jefferson County to show how we are never detached from the natural environment; it is all around us!

State Nature Preserve #1 Six Mile Island

  • Became a State Nature Preserve in 1979
  • Located in the Ohio River
  • It is an 81-acre island
  • Kentucky protected Six Mile Island, so researchers and individuals could study the ecology of river islands.
  • It is open to the public and accessible by boat
  • People use it to study and bird watch

State Nature Preserve #2 Beargrass Creek

  • Became a State Nature Preserve in 1982
  • Located close to Jo Creason Park and Louisville Zoological gardens
  • It is 41 acres
  • Kentucky protected Beargrass Creek for recreation and nature education.
  • It is open to the public and very accessible
  • People us it to study, hike, and bird watch.

State Nature Preserve #3 Blackacre

  • Became a State Nature Preserve in 1979
  • Located near Jefferstown
  • It is 175 acres
  • Kentucky protected Blackacre for environmental education
  • It is open to the public but limited
    • Weekdays 3 p.m. to dusk
    • Weekends dawn to dusk
    • So plan accordingly!

State Natural Preserves serve as just another conservation and preservation initiative the state of Kentucky is doing to protect our natural environment.  Has anyone explored the State Nature Preserves in their local area? What about others throughout the state of Kentucky? What about across the country? Let me know! What did you do? What was your experience like? I am curious because I, myself, have never been to a State Natural Preserve.  Maybe this weekend?

Until next time!

Cheers,

Dr. Adam Sizemore

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Expanded Gaming in Kentucky: A Winning Bet

Expanded Gaming in Kentucky: A Winning Bet

By Taylor Forns, Friends of Limestone Chief Development Officer

 

The first Saturday in May. For 144 years, this has been a day of pride for Kentuckians as the entire country tunes in for the Run for the Roses. The majesty, the pageantry, the spectacle of the day is always something to behold.

As I reflect back on this year’s Kentucky Derby, I am drawn to the social and political influences of the race. Though the world’s most famous horse race takes place in Kentucky, the state government refuses to allow gambling on anything other than horse racing. With the Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing states to legalize sports gambling, I could not help but think about the current climate surrounding expanded gaming in the Commonwealth.

In 2017, people wagered $139 million on the Kentucky Derby alone, a horse race that lasts two minutes. Imagine the economic impact that would have on Kentucky if we didn’t have that cash coming into the system. Now imagine the economic impact if the Commonwealth coupled the total earnings from the horse racing industry yearly with expanded gaming in casinos and sports books. It isn’t hard to imagine that funding for many of Kentucky’s programs, including Medicaid, the failing state pension plans, and education, would receive a significant boost and ultimately lead to better outcomes for millions of Kentuckians.

The idea for expanded gaming here in Kentucky is not a novel one. Former Governor Steve Beshear was a strong advocate for it during his term as governor, and his son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, continues to push for legalization of expanded gaming to solve Kentucky’s revenue needs.

Rivals of expanded gaming do recognize its economic impact, but they believe that the “societal costs,” as Governor Matt Bevin put it in September 2017, would be too great to realize any true benefit.

Personally, I side with the idea that we live in a state where the vices of horse racing, bourbon, tobacco, and marijuana make up a large portion of the economy, so we have already paid the Pied Piper in terms of societal costs. Additionally, Kentuckians continue to leave the Commonwealth to gamble in casinos just across the Ohio River in both Indiana and Ohio. Why should we allow our dollars to continue to go to neighboring states that seem to be doing just fine with the casinos in their communities?

Not only would expanded gaming keep money within the Commonwealth, but also bringing casinos to Kentucky would create thousands of jobs, giving more citizens the chance to earn a decent wage and improve the economy. To top it all off, the sheer volume of revenue generated by expanded gaming would help to stave off tax increases to fund many of the state’s programs. To this effect, Democrats would be able to fund the myriad of state-funded programs that support Kentuckians, and Republicans would be able to make good on campaign promises to their constituents by keeping taxes low.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly did not make money on Derby day this year. My pick 6 bet lost on the first race, I didn’t hit my exacta, and I thought Mendelssohn was going to win it over Justify. Clearly, I made the wrong bets that day.

However, I have a bet that is sure to have a big payoff: legalize expanded gaming. It’s a winning bet for Kentucky.

 

Take the FOL Oaks Challenge!

Take the FOL Oaks Challenge!

The world knows about the Kentucky Derby, but it is the Kentucky Oaks that holds a special place in the hearts of Kentuckians. It has long been considered the racing day for “the People”, as locals take the opportunity to get into Churchill Downs before tourists get in for Derby day.

The Oaks first ran in 1875, over time the race has evolved from a much smaller race at the Louisville Jockey Club to an event that annually attracts over 120,000 people from all walks of life. The Oaks is more than a mile and an eighth or a garland of lilies, for Kentuckians it is a moment of a communal and unified feeling before we as a state walk become the center of the world. Where else do schools close for a horse race?

What makes the Oaks and Derby feel so Kentuckian is a unity that seems to surround the festivities. Starting on Friday, inside and outside of Churchill Downs, the Commonwealth comes together. The people set aside red & blue, political party, urban or rural, and instead start a weekend chock full of our unique Kentucky traditions.

When we started Friends of Limestone almost a year ago, one of our main reasons for doing so was to advocate for and celebrate the things that bring Kentuckians together. Indeed, FOL truly believes that we have more in common than we do differently.

With this in mind, on this Kentucky Oaks Day whether you are at the track, watching at home, or work we challenge you to talk to someone you may not see eye to eye with. Strike up a conversation about what Oaks and Derby mean to you. Share a glass of Kentucky bourbon, or just a glass of water (both of which we owe to Kentucky limestone).

From such a conversation we imagine you will find that for maybe 363 days a year you share very little in common. For two days a year, a unifying feeling takes over, making us all Kentuckians. By doing this, we as Kentuckians can show ourselves and the rest of the world, that when we come together, we are stronger than when we apart.

Here’s to hoping that the unifying nature of Oaks and Derby defines more than a weekend but also what it means to be a Kentuckian.

Join us, by taking the FOL Oaks Challenge. Share your story with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about how Oaks and Derby bring people together.

Use the hashtag #FOLOaks to share your experience on Kentucky’s best weekend.

Not Just Juleps: Derby Party Drinks You Need to Try

Not Just Juleps: Derby Party Drinks You Need to Try

It’s not all Juleps & Lillies ..

The best week of the year is finally here! Whether you live directly in the heart of the Derby city or are celebrating from afar, you are probably gathering your mint, sugar, and bourbon in preparation of the first Saturday of May.   Not everyone loves or appreciates a good Mint Julep so I’m going to give you three recipes that are also great for Kentucky Derby parties!

Cucumber Bourbon Cocktail:

I am a sucker for anything cucumber! Something about it is so refreshing and just screams summer!

  • A shot of a Rye whiskey (this is to even out the sweetness of the honey syrup)

  • A spoonful of honey syrup (1 cup honey, 1 cup water)

  • 3 slices of cucumber

  • Lemon wedge

  • 2 Mint leaves

  • Splash of club soda

In a mixing glass, muddle the cucumber, mint, lemon wedge, and spoonful of honey syrup.  Add in the shot of bourbon, stir. Strain this into a glass full of ice. Top with club soda.  Add a cucumber slice and mint leaf for garnish! (This is also something you could easily make a large batch of to serve in a pitcher – plus it looks pretty!)

Brown Derby Cocktail:

Prior to the Mint Julep craze there was another famous drink, the Brown Derby.  I personally had never heard of this drink until last year and highly recommend it!

  • 2 oz of Bourbon (any type would do – i do not recommend a super high rye though with the grapefruit!)

  • Half a Grapefruit squeezed

  • ½ oz Honey

  • Lemon and/or Mint for garnish

This super easy drink consists of 2 steps. First, shake the bourbon, grapefruit, honey, and ice for about 20 seconds or until frosty.  Strain and pour over a chilled glass.

Blush Lily:

This is retake on the Oak’s Lily!  I wish I could say I enjoyed a good Lily during the Derby season but vodka and I aren’t friends.  So here is a mix up for all of you non-bourbon lovers.

  • Cranberry juice

  • 1 shot Vodka

  • Lime juice

  • Splash of Triple Sec

Fill a shaker with ice, half cup of cranberry juice, shot of vodka, a good squeeze of lime juice, and a splash of Triple Sec. Shake well for 20-30 seconds.  Strain into a tall glass with fresh ice!

 

Hope you enjoy these & please drink responsibly! Happy Thurby, Oaks and most of all Derby!

 

Take Action: The Primary Registration Deadline is Almost Here!

Take Action: The Primary Registration Deadline is Almost Here!

As the primaries approach, Friends of Limestone hopes to help equip young voters with all the tools they need to take action in this important step in our state’s electoral process. This is the first of several posts coming to help ensure you’re ready for the primaries!

By the time the filing deadline for running in the 2018 elections passed, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced an overall surge in the amount of candidates. “Nearly every race has got a challenger,” Grimes told the press. “Few incumbents are going without primaries.”

This year voters will see a record 86 women running for a seat in Frankfort, as well as over fifty educators.

Since the ballots were finalized on January 30th, these candidates have been crisscrossing the counties of the Commonwealth in the hopes of convincing us they deserve to be our leaders.

Their first tests come on May 22nd in their party primaries and your final chance to register or update your registration is this coming Monday April 23rd. 

Not registered or need to add your new address? That’s a problem. Only 12.6 percent of voters aged 17-33 voted in the 2016 primaries, and this year’s elections offer a great opportunity for young people to make an impact in our state government.

Solving this problem is easy though, thanks to Kentucky’s online voter registration.

Step 1. Visit the Kentucky online voter registration site. 

Step 2. Ensure your eligibility by answer these questions from the state.

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Step 3. Enter your social security number and date of birth.

Step 4. You’ll then be asked to enter your information if you’ve never registered or verify if you’ve previously registered.

Step 5. Now you must select a political party. You can only vote in the primary of the party you register for in Kentucky.

Step 6. Next you’ll be asked for your current address.

Step 7. Take one last look to verify your information. Remember if your info is incorrect it could prevent you from voting in the primary.

Congrats! You’re ready to vote next month!

From Snob to Stave (and Thief)

From Snob to Stave (and Thief)

Well guys, I am officially a bourbon snob! Not really, but that’s everyone probably thinks. Last month with some friends I took the first step in getting my Stave and Thief Certification!  What does this mean? Do I get anything cool? Can anyone do it? I am going to answer all of these questions and tell you about my experience, what it means to me, and what I plan to do from here.

The Stave and Thief Society course was originally set up for hospitality businesses in 2014 to help educate their staff, as bourbon tourism was becoming all the rage.  This way the staff had more than basic knowledge of bourbon and could help guide their customers on what brands, mash bills, etc. would be best for their palette. Now it is offered as a learning course for anyone that is interested. I was able to take the basic certification with the Whisky Chicks which included a 3 hour class, learning the history of bourbon, the difference between all whiskies, how to read a label, the Kentucky heritage, and what goes into building a flight.  I highly suggest taking a class instead of doing the learn from home – it really helped me listen and learn to other bourbon lovers backgrounds, what they like, and how they got into it. The most fun thing about bourbon is who you share it with! In my class, there were all levels, one couple just started drinking bourbon within the past few months, some others were brought up by their dads being into bourbon and knowing the history like the back of their hand, and others (like me) knew a good amount but still could learn a lot more!

After all the learning, then it was time to drink! We were able to try to classics such as Basil Hayden & Larceny and then I was able to try some bourbon from New York and Indiana, which is very different and interesting to try. (Kentucky is still my favorite though!)  From there we learned to make our flights, what goes into the process, and how to line them up. I can’t tell you all the secrets but it is very interesting once you start looking at different restaurant flight offers on their thought process behind it.

Test time! Once you finish the class you have to take an online test of multiple choice questions and create your own flight. Now the waiting game, it took about a week for me to get my test results back and say that I passed!! My next step is to take the executive course, which is an all day training including learning the different smells, taste, and more in depth in the bourbon making process. If you are interested in bourbon and taking your hobby / passion to the next level, I highly recommend this course. Stay tuned for my next step in bourbon love!

A Kentucky Legislative Session Update

A Kentucky Legislative Session Update

By: Brandon McReynolds, Ph.D, Friends of Limestone Founder

Hey Friends!

We are now a little over halfway through the 2018 Kentucky Regular Legislative Session (the legislature only has 59 legislative days this year), which provides an opportunity to check-in on the bills connected to Friends of Limestone’s mission.

Over the past week, our team reviewed all the proposed legislation from this session. As of publication, over 150 bills have been filed in the Senate and close to 400 in the House. These bills cover a variety of policy areas connected to limestone and the industries that exist in Kentucky because of limestone. Below we listed several of the bills that stand out to us.

We have provided a brief description of each piece of legislation along with why the legislation is of importance to Friends of Limestone. We also recommend checking out the Legislative Research Commission’s website where you can see the bills and resolutions your representatives have sponsored! Also, be on the lookout for a separate blog post about Kentucky’s pension problem, and how it affects us all as Friends of Limestone.

House Bills:

HB 26- Natural resource severance and processing tax

Currently: in House to Appropriations and Revenue

  • Amends state law to define the “processing” of limestone to include the act of loading and unloading
  • Amends state law to allow for a tax credit for identical severance or processing tax paid in another state or political subdivision.

FOL Perspective: the mining and processing of limestone as a natural resource is one use of Kentucky’s large limestone deposit. Legislation focused on the continued mining of limestone needs to consider the environmental, social, and economic impacts of mining each time legislation such as this is proposed.

HB 159- Increase sales tax on alcohol

Currently: in House to Licensing, Occupations, and Admin Regs

  • Amends state law to increase the whole sales tax rate for beer, wine, and distilled spirits to 14 percent
  • Forbids local governments from imposing a regulatory fee on the sale of alcoholic beverages
  • Amends state law to establish a $100 annual transporters license fee
  • Amends state law to require that every distiller, rectifier, winery, and nonresident wholesaler make its brands available to any wholesaler and not grant the distributing rights of any particular brand to only one wholesaler exclusively
  • Amends state law to require that alcohol wholesalers make deliveries to retailers on a timely basis and no later than one week after the order date
  • Amends state law to require that alcohol distributors make deliveries to retailers on a timely basis and no later than one week after the order date
  • Amends state law to permit a quota retail package licensee or a nonquota malt beverage package licensee to transport alcoholic beverages between stores of common ownership if the licensee derives not less than 90 percent of his or her cash receipts from the sale of alcohol and pays the annual license fee

FOL Perspective: The sell of alcohol is highly regulated and taxed in Kentucky. As Kaitlyn pointed out in her recent blog, taxes incurred throughout the process make up a substantial cost that is passed onto consumers. This law adds further taxes and regulation.

HB 267- All wet counties through a local option election to approve license fee

Currently: in House to Licensing, Occupations, and Admin Regs

  • Amends state law to allow all wet cities and counties containing wet cities through a local option election to impose a regulatory license fee on the sale of alcoholic beverages

HB 41, 42, and 229– All deal with gambling

FOL’s mission does not directly connect to the issue of legalized casino gambling. However, due to the on-going discussion around casino gambling and Kentucky’s horse industry we wanted to make people aware of these pieces of legislation.

 

Senate Bills

SB 22- Sports wagering

Currently: In Senate to Appropriations and Revenue

  • Requires Kentucky Horseracing Commission to institute a sports wagering system
  • Vest control of sports wagering with the commission
  • Establishes a 20% tax on the total amount wagered at sports wagering facilities

FOL Perspective: The equine industry plays a substantial role in the Kentucky economy.  Legislators and voters need to understand the economic and social impacts of expanded sports gambling along with how legislation such as this will support the long-term growth of Kentuck’s equine industry.

SB 56- Kentucky Horse Racing Commission

Currently: Has passed in the Senate, and is in the House to Licensing, Occupations, and Admin Regs

  • Amends state law to make ex officio members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission nonvoting members.

SB 110- Alcohol license quotas

Currently: In Senate, passed out of committee, seven-floor amendments were added, waiting for second reading

  • Codify the quota system for alcoholic beverages for wet counties and cities
  • Creates new process for verifying quota numbers
  • Create a process to allow for a city or county to petition for a quota increase

Various amendments have been added and range from eliminating the quota system to shifting how the system is managed.

FOL Perspective: As legislators debate the pros and cons of Kentucky’s quota system, FOL believes that they should work to give agency and power to counties and cities across the state.

SB 129- Reorganize energy and environmental cabinet

Currently: In Senate to Natural Resources & Energy

  • Amends over 25 state statutes regarding the Energy and Environmental Cabinet
  • Changes names of various portions of the Energy and Environmental Cabinet
  • Amends state law regarding responsibility for who can take legal action regarding various programs

FOL Perspective: Every issue before the legislature is an environmental issue, a reorganization of  Energy and Environmental Cabinet needs to ensure the environmental justice is a part of the policy process both inside and outside of the cabinet.

SB111- Breeder’s Cup exemption

Currently: In Senate to Appropriations and Revenue

  • Amends state law to make permanent the Breeder’s Cup exemption relating to wagering