Category: Environment

Meet a Friend of Limestone, Dr. Alan Fryar

Meet a Friend of Limestone, Dr. Alan Fryar

It’s hard to be more of a friend to limestone than Dr. Alan Fryar, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Fryar’s specialty is understanding how water moves through karst, a special kind of landscape formed by the dissolution of limestone. He has studied it across the Bluegrass region. One study performed in Woodford County compared a spring under UK’s Animal Research Center with another in downtown Versailles. He has also researched sinkholes and “telling people where to and where not to build from an engineering perspective.”

This extensive understanding of karst makes him one of the Bluegrass’ top experts on the natural foundation on which our Commonwealth stands.

He explained that Kentucky’s limestone gives it a unique geographic difference. “The Bluegrass region is sort of a dome of limestone.” Dr. Fryar noted that this limestone had an immediate effect on how Kentucky grew and evolved.

“It has to do with historical settlements,” he noted. “People settled in areas where limestone was fundamental.” The Falls of the Ohio and the unique properties of central Kentucky’s soil are both thanks to limestone and attracted settlers.

Dr. Fryar’s interest and knowledge about karst and Kentucky’s history with limestone has led to a hobby of speaking to the landscape’s role in bourbon distilling. He’s been interviewed by several journalists and authors about the role of limestone in Kentucky’s unique industries.

He notes that “interesting coincidences” led settlers to the industries that remain the cornerstones of Kentucky’s cultural and economic identity.

“Bourbon is what people started distilling because the ingredients were available,” Fryar notes. The limestone water that came from natural springs across the Bluegrass was a key ingredient. It isn’t a coincidence that Royal Spring, Kentucky is where Elijah Craig began making whiskey in 1789.

It turned out that the high pH of limestone water is ideal for promoting fermentation, and it naturally filters out impurities like iron that alter the taste. This made water from the Bluegrass region the perfect ingredient for the earliest bourbon distillers.

While limestone water is not essential to bourbon production at this point, it has created a myth around the spirit. “I think that’s where the concept of terroir comes in, where it’s not just physical factors, but it’s also what the consumer perceives as the place, the origin of the spirit that gives it value,” he told Louisville Public Radio in 2013.

Even his students have gotten into the act of studying the relationship between geology and distilling. One of his UK graduates now works as an environmental compliance officer for a major name in Kentucky bourbon.

Dr. Fryar is helping the public understand the geological reasons behind bourbon’s rise in Kentucky. That makes him a great Kentuckian and a true Friend of Limestone.

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Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Let’s talk about Limestone.  Limestone is a sedimentary rock and the leading stone extracted and processed in the United States.  Out of all stone mining in the U.S., limestone accounts for roughly 42%.  It is extremely functional, as it is primarily used in the construction industry.  However, it has many uses!

You interact with limestone on a daily basis and you may not even know it.

  • It is used to make the paper you just wasted after trying for the 100th time to operate the office copier.
  • The plastic bag you used to carry a pack of gum out of Kroger.
  • The glass jar of outdated pickles in the back of your refrigerator.
  • The paint on your wall…and, if you did the paint job, possibly on your floor too.
  • The carpet in your house that you keep forgetting to vacuum.
  • The overly priced bottle of water you purchased at Speedway.
  • The food in your 4 for 4 at Wendy’s.

Let us not forget the horses and mint juleps we like to watch/drink on Derby Day!

Have you ever wondered how we extract it? Probably not, so here we go.  The majority is mined through a process called surface mining (some extraction is done through underground methods).  Surface mining mines from the top down, not the bottom up.  In respect to limestone, the process is referred to as quarrying.  Quarrying involves the removal of earth and stone piece by piece with heavy machinery and small explosives.   The end result is a large open pit (quarry).  Once completed, the stone goes to a processing plant.

You may be thinking, “oh, yeah, that’s what those giant holes in the earth are called!”.  Have you ever thought about the environmental impacts from “those giant holes in the earth”? Again, probably not.

If not conducted properly quarrying can have negative environmental impacts.  These include:

  • The removal of trees, vegetated areas, soil, and habitat loss required for many species to live.
  • Contamination of local water sources.
  • Acid mine drainage
  • The use of large amounts of water.
  • The creation of wastewater.
  • Air and soil pollution from heavy machinery.

All pose negative health risks for humans, non-animal species, and nature.

In a previous blog I discussed the importance of conservation and preservation.  Another crucial component is sustainability.  Sustainability is a principle that seeks to maintain the balance for both future and present species/generations.  If we are unable to find and maintain this balance, future generations will feel the impacts.  Limestone extraction is not immune.  Alongside practicing conservation and preservation to our limestone reserves, we also need to make certain our extraction methods are sustainable for our present and future generations, as well as the natural environment…and for the 4 for 4 at Wendy’s!

 

Best,

 

Adam

Meet Our Environment Blogger!

Meet Our Environment Blogger!

Hello everyone! My name is Adam Sizemore. I am from Morehead, Kentucky; a small town located in the Appalachian region of our great state. Even though I do not currently live there, I have lived in Kentucky my entire life and Appalachia has always been important to me.

I moved to Louisville in the summer of 2014 to continue graduate school at UofL. Prior to that summer, I completed both my undergraduate and Masters degrees at Morehead State University. There I became focused on studying environmental issues. 

There isn’t a specific moment I remember becoming interested in environmental matters, but it stretches as far back as Elementary School.  In the 4th grade, I entered a Kentucky conservation-writing contest where I imagined “00H20” (double-oh-H20), a secret agent who gave citations to people with outdated and environmentally unfriendly appliances, water faucets, and toilets.

Maybe I was just a little too obsessed with James Bond; I wonder where that paper is now…

Anyway, my environmental focus has shifted greatly since then! At Morehead State, I was extremely interested in our food system and its impacts on our environment. Now, I am focused on environmental issues in Appalachia; especially coal mining in Central Appalachia. I am currently researching how members of Martin County, Ky overcame a dam failure that released over 300 million gallons of coal waste into the community in the fall of 2000.

Being an advocate for the environment is something that I am passionate about in my career, as well as my personal life.  My wife and I are expecting our first child this November and the well being of our planet for future generations is something that will always be crucial to me.  I am excited to discuss environmental topics, as well as continue to learn more with each of you each month!

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”-Jane Goodall  

The Power of Empowerment

The Power of Empowerment

By Gabe Duverge

Editor’s note: As Friends of Limestone begins it’s journey, we will be outlining each of the four pillars of our work as well as our focus issues. This is the third part of our four part series on our work. Part one on preservation and confirmation can be found here, and part two on education here

Tucked behind tennis courts and across a street from the Louisville Zoo is a sizable forest. Walking through the trails that cross the area, you should eventually get to the Louisville Nature Center. A modest facility that houses the volunteers and staff who steward the forest, officially known as the Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve.

Whenever I think about empowerment I always think about the Louisville Nature Center. As a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, I found myself at the center often. I can remember weekends spent walking the trails, and never wanting to leave their fantastically cool bird blind. The lessons I learned there helped instill an appreciation for the outdoors that I try to uphold across my life.

The LNC was excellent at not only teaching me how important our surrounding outdoor areas are, but how important it was for me to take care of them. Half of my trips to the center were to pick up trash, and take care of the trails in the forest. I even helped my best friend build benches in the reserve as a high school student, benches which remain there to this day.

My times at the center helped me understand early that every single one of us has a part to play in keeping the nature around us enjoyable. Whether it’s a day picking up small trash or just simply recycling, we all have a part to play.

The same thing goes for our work in Friends of Limestone. If we want Kentucky to be the community we desire it to be, we have to empower each other to get it done. Each of us has to contribute to make the greater whole better.

The term “commonwealth” literally means “a community founded for the common good.” That common good is not possible without each of us doing our part.

Our goal for Friends of Limestone is to not only instill that into others, but also to give citizens the tools to actually make a difference. We want to help you find battles worth fighting, and help you win. We hope you’ll join us.

Understanding Education

Understanding Education

By Brandon McReynolds

Editor’s note: As Friends of Limestone begins it’s journey, we will be outlining each of the four pillars of our work as well as our focus issues. This is the second part of our four part series on our work. Part one on preservation and confirmation can be found here.

As I began to envision what would eventually become Friends of Limestone, I knew early that a key goal would be highlighting the importance of limestone to Kentucky. Across the state there are hints at its historical significance, it adorns street signs and was once the name of a settlement that would become Maysville, KY.

If you have ever been on a bourbon tour, you have likely a guide explain why bourbon is the backbone of Kentucky and it is because of limestone. They may have mentioned how limestone filters water uniquely, preventing iron from having an effect on the finished product.

Perhaps you have wondered why the equine industry is such a strong part of Kentucky. We can attribute that to the nutrients that limestone offers the ground and grass, making the Commonwealth an ideal place for raising horses.

I also thought about all the trips to Kentucky’s caves I took as a kid. Marveling at the vast open spaces that exist hundreds of feet below the ground. At the time, I had no idea (likely because I was not paying attention to the tour guide) that limestone provided the ceiling, which allows the caves to exist. Ultimately, what I recognized is that so many of my experiences growing up in Kentucky are linked to limestone.

I then began to think: what would my old Kentucky home be like without it?

Certainly not the same. I know that many Kentuckians have had similar and unique experiences throughout their lives that connect their own personal story to limestone. Friends of Limestone was started, in part, for us to share those experiences. To show that as Kentuckians, we share more in common than we do differently. We want to show that many of the things we love about the Commonwealth have their foundation in limestone. This is why we chose education as one of our central principles. To yes, inform people about fun facts and numbers but to also share stories.

We want to create a space to talk about, inform, and share both the historical and current impacts limestone has had on Kentucky and the people of Kentucky. This blog will include stories, information, and facts from across the state to educate and highlight how our love for Kentucky is rooted in the importance of limestone.

The Importance of Conservation and Preservation

The Importance of Conservation and Preservation

Author: Adam Sizemore

Editor’s note: As Friends of Limestone gets going, we will be outlining each of the four pillars of our work as well as our focus issues. This is the first part of our four part series on our work. 

Conservation and Preservation, often used interchangeably, are contrasting methods used to protect the natural environment. However, they share the similar goal of ensuring a sustainable future.  Conservation efforts support environmentally appropriate uses of nature required for human life.  Regulating daily bag and possession limits for anglers is one example of a conservation method created to not only conserve, but to hopefully improve the overall fish population in each body of water.   This creates a stable balance between consumption and the reproduction of fish.  Preservation efforts focus on protecting nature from use all together.  Wildlife preserves prohibiting actions like logging, mining, fishing, and/or hunting are examples. Both methods are vital for the protection of our natural environment.

It is through conservation and preservation efforts that we recognize our critical connection to the natural environment.  Resources provided by the natural environment enhance our society, as well as, our economy.  However, the use of these resources must remain balanced and address environmental sustainability, economic security, and a healthy environment for all.  Strengthening our conservation and preservation efforts is one path in establishing this harmony in Kentucky.  See below for a short list of some Kentucky’s conservation and preservation efforts.  

Kentucky Conservation and Preservation Facts:

  • Kentucky is a southeastern state consisting of 120 counties brimming with natural resources contributing to its economy, history, culture, and overall society (Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection)
  • There are 1,100 miles of commercially assessable waterways (Kentucky Department of Travel)
  • There are 12.7 million acres of commercial forest land (Kentucky Department of Travel)
  • Kentucky has an abundance of minerals and byproducts such as coal, stone, natural gas, and petroleum (Kentucky Department of Travel)
  • Kentucky’s available land supports a strong agricultural system  (Kentucky Department of Travel)

 

  • Conservation:
    • Kentucky provides assistance to conservation districts (121 in total) in implementing sustainable methods seeking to conserve Kentucky’s natural resources (Division of Conservation)
    • Roughly 95% of land in Kentucky is privately owned meaning conservation efforts rely heavily in the hands of Kentuckians (Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources)
    • Kentucky hires Conservation Educators (CE’s) that promote conservation through schools, summer camps, and programs (Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources)
  • Preservation:
    • Kentucky establishes state nature preserve systems that give present and future generations the benefits of natural areas (Kentucky State Nature Preserved Commission).
    • As of 2016, the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC) has established 63 preserves totaling 28,022 acres providing habitats for a diverse range of plants and animal species, as well as, providing areas for scientific research and appreciation of our natural environment (Kentucky State Nature Preserved Commission)