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Program 1315

1. Black Mountain
2. the Trixie Foundation
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Harlan County

For more information:

• Marc Evans, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, 801 Schenkel Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 573-2886

Producer, videographer: Brandon Wickey
Audio: Thomas Cooper
Editors: Brandon Wickey, Dan Taulbee

Kentucky Mountain High

wildflowers on Black Mountain

At 4,145 feet, the summit of Black Mountain in Harlan County is the highest point in Kentucky. But in the late 1990s, the mountain seemed in danger of losing that status when a coal company applied for a permit to use mountaintop removal methods to mine the summit. The plan sparked determined opposition from environmental groups, and the controversy eventually drew national attention and even a visit from President Clinton.

Though the fierce debate over mountaintop removal continues all over Eastern Kentucky, Black Mountain was spared when the Commonwealth of Kentucky agreed to buy timber and mineral rights for the summit (which is still owned by another coal company). In this tour of what that agreement helped to preserve, we learn that elevation isn’t the only thing that makes Black Mountain special: It’s also home to a rich and diverse ecosystem, including 28 species of plants found nowhere else in Kentucky.

Our guide is Marc Evans, senior ecologist for the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. He shows us around in early May, the peak of wildflower season, and introduces some of Black Mountain’s flora and fauna, which also includes a thriving butterfly community and important habitat for migrating songbirds. On a return visit in summer, we search for examples of the rare Turk’s cap lily in bloom.

The top of Black Mountain is not open to the public. As the drive up the summit road attests, the rest of this massive rock formation has been extensively mined for decades, and it is honeycombed with tunnels. Visitors on special guided tours must sign waivers acknowledging the danger posed by the possibility of sudden collapses underground.

Elliott County

For more information:
The Trixie Foundation, P.O. Box 1, Webbville, KY 41180, (606) 738-4439

Producer: Valerie Trimble
Videographers: Amelia Cutadean, Jason Robinson
Audio: Noel Bramblett
Editor: Jim Piston

All God’s Creatures

the Trixie Foundation

The Trixie Foundation, headquartered on a back road in rural Elliott County, operates the largest no-kill, cageless animal shelter in the region, ensuring that nearly 300 otherwise unwanted dogs and cats will live out their lives in a caring place with room to romp and play. What makes the story even more remarkable is that the Trixie Foundation is really just one man: Randy Skaggs.

A former Northern Kentucky resident, Skaggs says that he moved back east to be near relatives after a business swindle left him homeless and nearly penniless. Faced with having to give up his own seven dogs in order to live with a family member, he instead moved the whole gang into an abandoned trailer. Since then, he has built a haven for animals other people have abandoned—all in the name of Trixie, one of the original seven, who was attacked and killed by a wild animal.

Skaggs’ operation is not part of any official network or sanctioning body. He does almost all of the work of caring for the animals himself, and he will go to great lengths to seek out and rescue others when he hears a report of an abandoned animal. His charges rarely find new homes; many are mixed-breed “mutts” that other people might not find especially appealing. But Skaggs believes they all deserve dignity and love, and he gives every one a name. In return, they have given him a mission and a purpose. When not rescuing or taking care of specific dogs and cats, he can be found lobbying for the enforcement of existing animal protection laws and advocating for new, more compassionate ways of dealing with the problem of unwanted animals in general.

The Trixie Foundation web site includes the stories behind some of the animals who live with Skaggs. He does welcome contributions to support their care.

Fayette County

For more information:
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Parks and Recreation, 469 Parkway Dr., Lexington, KY 40504, (859) 288-2900

On Location

Dave hosts this edition from Jacobson Park in Lexington. This 386-acre urban oasis, which includes a golf course, a 47-acre reservoir, a dog park, a playground, and other recreational facilities, will officially become the property of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government on January 2, 2011. Lexington has been leasing it from Kentucky-American Water Co. since 1968.

Scenic Beauties

This program ends with a slide show celebrating some more of Kentucky’s special places and rare flora. The photos, by KET staff photographer Steve Shaffer, were taken during on-location shooting for the 2004 Kentucky Life special Kentucky’s Last Great Places.

SEASON 13 PROGRAMS: 1301130213031304130513061307/1326: The Lincoln Wedding130813091310

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