This year the GCA Conservation Study Conference in Louisville, Kentucky included 50 delegates from around the country. I was lucky enough to attend with Suellen White and Cindy Scott.

Louisville is a city of contrast. I envisioned Kentucky as a bucolic field of Kentucky Bluegrass. Of course I thought of the Kentucky Derby and Jack Daniels. But what I did not realize is the extent of industrialization. Both the coal and the rubber industries have been providing jobs and economic stability to the region. Kentucky residents depend on these industries, but for years these industries were dumping toxins into the Ohio River and its tributaries. Louisville was known as Coronary Valley. Many Kentucky schools sit on land that qualifies in the top 1% in the country polluted with toxic chemicals.

Thankfully, a number of wealthy benefactors have promoted a number of projects to reclaim their beautiful city of old. Working with the University of Louisville, the city of Louisville and the Nature Conservancy, some of the projects initiated include: the impressive, “Green Heart Project”; the development of the Waterfront Park; a new Botanic Garden; and a 4,000 acre site called The Parklands, which was developed for recreation and education. We were all astounded by the depth of toxins around Louisville, but extremely heartened to see all of their new green spaces!

Two things to be aware of:
President Trump signed the Scenic Byway law. “Scenic Byways both protect America’s scenic and historic places and contribute to strong local economies by facilitating the travel and tourism that leads to economic development in the nearby communities.” GCA has been trying to reinstate funding since it was defunded in 2012. And by the way, Colorado has 11 Scenic Byways…more than any other state!
The Healthy Yard Pledge. Please go to the GCA Website and take the Healthy Yard Pledge. Water treatment centers do not remove the chemicals and fertilizers that we put on our lawns so it’s important to greatly reduce or eliminate their use. One by one we can contribute to a greener, cleaner world!

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