Whitesburg KY

Land trust buys ‘South America’

An area on Pine Mountain known as “South America” has been purchased by Kentucky Natural Lands Trust.

The 247 acres have been called “South America” for more than 100 years because of its remoteness. The land holds the lower portion of Laurel Fork, a small stream with a wide variety of aquatic life including several rare and endangered species.

The property contains fall “swarming” habitat for federally endangered Indiana bats that hibernate in nearby Limestone Cave, and funds were provided by the Indiana Bat Conservation Fund for purchase of the property. “Swarming” occurs in the fall when bats feed extensively to increase the fat levels for hibernation. It is also the time when the bats mate.

At least 24 fishes have been identified in the stream on the property including the Blackside dace, the Cumberland Darter, and the Cumberland arrow darter. The Cumberland elk toe mussel and another rare mussel, the Cumberland papershell, have also been found in the stream.

Rare plants identified include golden club, Michaux’s bluets, Appalachian rosinweed, and rock harlequin. Other plant species found near the area include a rare goldenrod and blunt mountainmint, which has not otherwise been found in Kentucky in recent surveys.

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