Nature was here a series of wonders, and a fund of delight.
Have you ever dreamed of seeing Kentucky the way Daniel Boone saw it during his explorations here? That dream will now be as close to reality as modern times will allow with the opening of the Appalachian Wildlife Center in Bell County, Kentucky. Governor Bevin, Secretary Charles Snavely, Commissioner Sandy Dunahoo, Rep. Hal Rodgers and others attended an event on November 1st to announce the kickoff of the project. The center is scheduled to open to the public in 2019.
The center will repurpose nineteen square miles of forest and reclaimed mine lands. It will become a resource for tourism, education, restoration and research of diverse Kentucky wildlife. At the forefront of the center will be the opportunity to view elk, a species once annihilated from Kentucky, restored into swaths of their former habitat. From late summer through fall, visitors will be able to observe the grand struggle for dominance among bull elk and listen to the magnificent sounds of the elk's signature call, bugling, echoing off the surrounding mountains.
During his comments at the announcement, Governor Bevin spoke of the difference between visionaries and dreamers, Visionaries are dreamers who took action the governor told a crowd of more than one hundred. He went on to say that the launch of the Wildlife Center project was the result of many visionaries taking a series of actions.
"This pilot program provides an exciting opportunity for our leaders in Appalachian counties," said Bevin. "By leveraging some of Kentucky's greatest competitive advantages — magnificent natural beauty, abundant wildlife and a strong sense of history and place — this program will help to create future opportunities for Kentuckians across the region."
Bevin quoted inventor Thomas Edison who once said, "Most people miss opportunity because it shows up wearing overalls and looks like hard work." Governor Bevin cautioned that moving forward with the vision of the wildlife center would take additional hard work on the part of many more Kentuckians.
"It is not just the responsibility of those on this stage to cultivate this vision, so let's all get our overalls on and be ready to do the work that's needed because the opportunity this center affords us is extraordinary," the Governor said.
Congressman Hal Rogers remarked, "In building a new economy we are learning to take advantage of that which makes us unique…the natural beauty that surrounds us."
Ultimately, The Appalachian Wildlife Center will be much more than a tourist attraction, a place of learning, or even a facility for research. It will be a step back into our state's rich past unrivaled by any other state east of the Mississippi. Where else in the east can a citizen of this country stand and see nature as far as the eye can see? No houses, no roads, no buildings of any kind will obstruct your view. We need such a place amidst the roiling waters of our constantly connected lives. We need places to break away from our phones and devices as we reconnect with our heritage. One man from our Kentucky past was infinitely familiar with the therapeutic solitude found in creation. After working his way through the Cumberland Gap and standing to take in what he called "Kentucke" Daniel Boone said, "In such a diversity it was impossible I should be disposed to melancholy."