After state assurances last summer that they didn't have anything to worry about, opponents of a proposal to pave the Little Shepherd Trail on Pine Mountain in Kentucky in Eastern Kentucky were stunned yesterday to learn the dirt and gravel path is being blacktopped anyway. They accused the state of duplicity. Nearby residents say pouring asphalt will hurt native wildlife.
Some, associated with the group Kentuckians for the Commenweatlh, are taking direct action to stop it.
The controversy began in April last year after Gov. Ernie Fletcher came to Letcher County to announce $500,000 had been appropriated to pave the trail. Instead of approval, however, the news ignited a firestorm of protests.
Little Shepherd Trail is a 38-mile narrow road on top of Pine Mountain. The Trail, or Kentucky Highway 1679, clings to the southern edge of Pine Mountain's crest from the intersection of US 421 at this location to US 119 south of Whitesburg. This serpetine route twists though numerous refreshing overlooks and massive, spine-like rock out-croppings, termed "Hogbacks." Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel bloom profusely in craggy exposures.
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth believes in the power of citizens, working together, to challenge injustices, right wrongs and improve the quality of life for all Kentuckians. The group states their vision this way,
"We are working for a day when Kentuckians — and all people — enjoy a better quality of life. When the lives of people and communities matter before profits. When our communities have good jobs that support our families without doing damage to the water, air and land. When companies and the wealthy pay their share of taxes and can’t buy elections. When all people have health care, shelter, food, education, clean water and other basic needs. When children are listened to and valued. When discrimination is wiped out of our laws, habits and hearts. And when the voices of ordinary people are heard and respected in our democracy."
The following is from WKYT (Kentucky).
Protesters try to prevent state from paving primitive trail
KINGDOM COME STATE PARK, Ky. A dozen people are protesting today in southeastern Kentucky on a primitive trail that state officials plan to pave.
The protesters walked up Little Shepherd Trail that state workers decided to have paved despite opposition from some local residents.
The protesters organized by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth carried signs that read "Don't pave our paradise" and "Respect local concerns."
The protesters initially tried to drive their cars up the trail to block pavement trucks, but were stopped by a state transportation employee. They were allowed to walk along the trail.
State transportation officials say paving the road will provide better access to Kingdom Come State Park near Cumberland.