May 24, 2010

(Video News Release)

Volunteers from across the state grabbed a shovel and got to work planting native Kentucky plants alongside a tributary of Cane Run Creek, which flows through the Kentucky Horse Park.

The goal of the planting project, organized by personnel from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, was to employ best management practices to help improve the water quality of the creek in Fayette and Scott counties.

"We're trying to do some plantings along the bank to help take up a lot of the excess nutrients, provide a lot of shade, cool the water and increase our dissolved oxygen," said Russ Turpin, extension associate with the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.

The project is one of several that college personnel are undertaking in the watershed thanks to an Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 grant administered through the Kentucky Division of Water.

In addition to the structural improvements, education is also a big component of the watershed improvement project. Amanda Gumbert, UK extension specialist for water quality, is working with residents and businesses along the watershed to educate them on how they can improve the section of stream that passes through their property. Educational signage is also being installed along many sections, including the native planting site at the horse park, to educate the general public about the project.

"One of the great things about this particular project at the horse park is we'll get visitors to the park from the normal events, plus we all know in August and September we'll have lots of visitors from the World Equestrian Games," she said. "They'll see educational signage that explains what the project is about, how they can do this on their property and the benefits we're providing to the watershed."

While the event was part of the Cane Run watershed project, it was also a part of the Bluegrass Partnership for a Green Community's initiative to make the World Equestrian Games greener.

The partnership, comprised of several organizations throughout the Lexington area including UK's Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, has several projects in the works to "Green the Games."

The partnership will purchase several permanent recycling containers for the horse park to encourage park visitors to recycle. The recycling containers will remain onsite after the games are over and be one of the environmentally friendly legacies left from the games.

The group is also encouraging area hotels to implement environmentally sound practices, such as composting food waste and installing a rain garden on their premises, through their Green Star program.  The group plans to create a list of green hotels that visitors to the World Equestrian Games can access.

Through the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, a partnering member, game attendees will be able to purchase carbon offsets from the forests of Eastern Kentucky to offset their travel emissions. For more information, visit the group's website at http://www.appalachiancarbonpartnership.org/.

The Bluegrass Partnership for a Green Community continues to raise funds for greening-of-the-games projects. To contribute, visit the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment's website, http://www.ise.uky.edu/node/121.