400 Acres Added to Jefferson Memorial Forest (KY)

JEFFERSON COUNTY: The nation’s largest municipal urban forest has grown by 401 acres, eclipsing the 6,000-acre milestone, Mayor Jerry Abramson and The Trust for Public Land announced today. As part of Louisville’s City of Parks initiative, two properties have been purchased for Jefferson Memorial Forest—a 294-acre property, held by the Samuels family for eight generations, and the 107-acre Pinguely-family property.

Both property purchases were negotiated by The Trust for Public Land, which has extensive national experience negotiating the protection of green space.

“The Jefferson Memorial Forest is a crucial component of our plan to build a City of Parks,” said Mayor Abramson. “The forest has become a true natural gem for our hometown and the surrounding region, and these acquisitions will expand its beauty and help connect some key areas.”

“We are proud to have partnered with Louisville Metro to continue its long history of acquiring lands within the forest,” said Denise Schlener, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Chesapeake and Central Appalachians Field Office. “The properties, which could just as easily have been used for development, will enhance the ecological value of the forest and provide additional recreational opportunities for area residents.”

The mayor and Metro Parks officials said the parcels will fill in gaps between sections of the forest, connecting woodland cover for migratory birds and other wildlife, as well as creating opportunities for reforestation and native plant restoration. Metro Parks will manage the properties, although the new land is not yet open to the public.

The Samuels property, most of which is in Bullitt County, connects the forest’s Tom Wallace and Horine sections. The Pinguely property adds to the Moremans Hill section of the forest, and nearly creates a new connection with the Tom Wallace section. Portions of the property offer views of the Ohio River and Indiana. The City of Parks initiative, announced by Abramson and Jones in February, includes substantial acquisition of thousands of acres of new park land, investing millions in more than 100 capital improvements to existing parks, and development of a 100-mile paved metro loop path. The initiative has $59 million in funding commitments from public and private sources.

The Samuels property, according to Sharon Samuels Bates, has been family owned “since land grant days.” The family farmed the land until 1984, when Walter Samuels lost his eyesight due to diabetes. Since then, the land reforested.

“Now, with the once-cleared fields filled with huge cedar and pine trees, the property looks more like a forest,” Bates said. “The remaining family members feel that adding the farm to the Jefferson Memorial Forest is a fitting tribute,” to family members who passed away.

The Pinguely property, according to Lois Pinguely, was used by soldiers at Camp Taylor for training during World War I. She said she hopes the families that once owned the property “will be honored by those who come to visit the land they loved so much.”

Funding for the purchase of the $1.14 million Samuels property is comprised of a lead gift of $500,000 from David and Betty Jones, $305,000 from the Louisville Metro budget, and a $341,500 grant from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund. The Pinguely property was purchased with $647,000 in Louisville Metro funds.

About Jefferson Memorial Forest
Jefferson Memorial Forest, the nation’s largest municipal urban forest at 6,057 acres, is a woodland tribute to those Kentucky veterans who have served our nation in time of war. Outdoor environmental and experiential education programs are offered at the Forest, providing learning opportunities for thousands of students and teachers annually. The Forest includes a full range of recreational amenities, including weekend educational programs, hiking trails, camping, fishing, horseback riding trails and picnic areas. For more information, go to the Metro Parks section of www.louisvilleky.gov.

About the Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. To date, it has applied its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law by protecting more than two million acres nationwide. The Trust for Public Land depends on many partnerships and the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.