Many thanks are due to lead givers Tom Dupree Sr. of Lexington and Christina Lee Brown of Louisville.
They, along with other partners such as the Forecastle Foundation, an offshoot of the popular music and art festival in Louisville, helped the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust purchase 46 acres in the wild, remote and biologically rich Laurel Fork watershed of Whitley County.
The new purchase is adjacent to the 1,864-acre Archer Benge State Nature Preserve, the state's third largest.
How wild and remote is it? Locals have long referred to the area as South America, and you have to go through Tennessee to drive to the newly protected land.
The Laurel Fork preserve serves as the southern anchor for what's envisioned as a corridor stretching the length of Pine Mountain along Kentucky's border with Tennessee and Virginia.
The Pine Mountain corridor could eventually link to a 1,800-mile Great Eastern Trail that's in the works from Alabama to the Finger Lakes of New York.
Such a rich opportunity for hikers, backpackers, birders and other nature lovers would help diversify Eastern Kentucky's economy through tourism and by attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs.
While there's plenty of room for tourists, Pine Mountain harbors many rare plants and animals, including migratory birds that spend part of their year in the real South America.
This vast expanse of forest also soaks up carbon and holds it. Recent scientific studies have more deeply documented the effects of climate change caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including what scientists say is the now unavoidable melting over the next century of an ice shelf in western Antarctica and resulting rise in sea levels.
Preserving forests provides a bastion against climate change and leaves a legacy for which future generations will be even more grateful.
Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on battling disease:
Unfortunately, fraternities often get a bad rap, mostly because of a few misbehaving members.
What some may not know is that fraternities across the country are very involved in charities and philanthropy projects.
These members take a lot of time to be involved in the communities. They want to help others while forming lifelong friendships with their fraternity brothers.
One such fraternity at Western Kentucky University that is doing something to help other is Phi Gamma Delta.
On Monday, 12 fraternity members left for Oceanside, Calif., where they'll begin the Bike4Alz on Saturday to Washington, D.C. The members will be traveling 3,000 miles in two months, averaging 80 miles a day in an effort to raise money for Alzheimer's disease research and bring awareness to the disease.
These men must have prepared for this long journey. Two months on the road, going cross-country on a bike, shows how dedicated these young men are to helping in the fight against Alzheimer's.
This year's group has a goal of $100,000, which it will donate to the BrightFocus Foundation, a nonprofit that supports research and provides public education to eradicate brain and eye diseases, including Alzheimer's disease.
This isn't the first time this fraternity has made trips such as this, trips that have combined to raise $120,000 for the Alzheimer's Association.
Hopefully, this large sum of money went a long way toward eradicating this disease.
These young men didn't have to spend their time doing this work, which must be physically and mentally draining. They could have enjoyed a lazy and relaxing summer, but they chose to make a difference.
Their efforts are applaudable, and we wish them the best of luck on their two-month trek.
The Morehead (Ky.) News on VA needing to clean house:
The White House chief of staff said Sunday on national TV that President Barack Obama is "madder than hell" over the growing scandal in the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
That exactly how we feel and so should everyone who has served or is serving in the military forces of this nation, as well as the families of veterans no longer with us.
The reports that dozens of veterans - perhaps more than 100 - have died because of treatment delays at VA hospitals is an outrage and an affront to our entire country.
Dr. Robert Petzel, the VA's top health official, resigned Friday but the housecleaning should not stop with him.
The existence of "secret wait lists" for health-care appointments was first reported in December 2012 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
That agency revealed that four VA medical centers concealed wait times, altered patient data and even backdated appointments to try to show they were complying with directives to eliminate such delays.
The shocking disclosures in recent days of as many as 40 deaths at the Phoenix VA hospital alone stand as evidence this federal agency is the most dysfunctional in the entire government.
We believe the VA is failing miserably in its responsibility to provide timely medical care for our veterans.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is a retired Army four-star general with two Purple Hearts from combat in Vietnam.
He has headed the VA for five years but his reputation as a quiet, low profile leader is not what the VA needs today.
President Obama must replace him with a highly visible, dynamic leader who will restore public confidence in the VA and lead the charge to modernize its facilities and its procedures.
Our veterans risked their lives to serve this nation. They shouldn't have to do it again to get the medical treatment they deserve.