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Contents:
Program 1815

1. Kentucky Wild Rivers Program
2. Mussels
3. Heirloom Beans
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Season 18 Menu

McCreary County

For more information:
Kentucky Wild Rivers Program
Map of Kentucky's Wild Rivers (PDF)

Producer: Dave Shuffett
Videographers: John Bacon, John Schroering
Editor: Dan Taulbee

More Like This From Kentucky Life:
Little Sandy River
Tebb's Bend of the Green River


Kentucky Wild Rivers Program

For our Earth Day 2013 show, we begin with a trip to the crystal clear waters of the Little South Fork of the Cumberland River in Wayne and McCreary counties, part of the Kentucky Wild Rivers Program.

The Wild Rivers Program was established by the Kentucky Wild Rivers Act of 1972, and recognizes portions of nine rivers of exceptional quality and aesthetic character: the Green River, Rockcastle River, Cumberland River, Rock Creek, the Little South Fork and Big South Fork of the Cumberland River, Martin's Fork, Bad Branch, and Red River.

Kentucky has more miles of navigable water than any state other than Alaska, and the Kentucky Division of Water is charged with preserving and protecting them. Each Wild River is actually considered a corridor, so the designation includes all visible land on each side of the river up to a distance of 2000 feet.

Biologists Zack Couch and Zeb Weese describe the animal life and endangered species found among the forests and cliffs by the river.

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Pendleton County

For more information:
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
Mussels and Clams from kentuckyawake.org

Producer: Brandon Wickey
Videographer: Steve Shaffer


Mussels

We turn our attention to the riverbeds as Dave Shuffett puts on a wet suit to explore Kentucky's amazing diversity of mussel species. We head to the Licking River in Pendleton County, which alone has more than 50 species of mussels.

Freshwater mussels are related to clams and are found on the beds of larger streams and rivers. Kentucky can boast nearly 100 species altogether, and its mussel diversity puts it within the top five of U.S. states. In comparison, the continent of Europe has fewer than 10 species of mussels.

Joining us on our trip are biologists from the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. Mussels are seen as good indicators of the health of a waterway, providing important information to scientists looking at contamination of streams and rivers by pollutants.

The freshwater mussels are the most imperiled group of animals in the state, with 14 species listed as endangered, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The Center for Mollusk Conservation in Frankfort raises endangered mussels in its hatcheries for release into the wild.

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Madison County

For more information:
Heirloom beans from heirlooms.org

Producer: Brandon Wickey
Videographer: Jaxon Combs


Heirloom Beans

Bill Best, a renowned seed collector, farmer, and proponent of sustainable mountain agriculture, introduces us to some colorful and tasty varieties of heirloom beans. The retired Berea college professor has over 600 varieties of beans.

Heirloom varieties of vegetables are gaining popularity as more people return to small-scale, local sources of food. The Southern Appalachian region has long been a prime source of bean species, because of its climate and the longtime cultivation by the people here. In Breathitt County alone, 48 distinct species of beans have been found.

Unlike the modern beans, eaten mostly for their jackets, these heirloom beans are grown for the rich-in-protein bean itself. Most heirloom beans are string beans. According to Best, most beans produced by modern breeders are stringless, which are tougher and usually harvested before the seed appears.

Our friend Bob Perry, chef at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, joins Bill Best in his kitchen to demonstrate several ways to prepare heirloom beans, both traditional and unconventional.

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