Conservation, productivity go together

EEC LogoRICHMOND, KY — No one knows the importance of conservation better than those who directly depend on the soil for their livelihood.

Even as agriculture becomes increasingly competitive, farmers must focus on conservation as well as production.

Fortunately, those twin goals can be mutually supportive, Ballew Farms on Boonesboro Road is proof of that.

On March 21, Lonzo and Taffy Ballew of Ballew Farms were honored by the Madison County Conservation District as Outstanding Conservators of the Year.

Lonzo and his brother Leroy are the third generation of the Ballew family to work the farm now near Interstate 75 Exit 95.

While farming is a family tradition, the Ballews are innovators, according to Brandon Sears, Madison County Cooperative Extension Agent for Agriculture.

They are always looking to increase crop diversity, try new marketing methods and apply the most up-to-date production techniques, Sears said.

The Ballews also are conscientious about learning and employing best practices for conservation as recommended by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said Lisa Smith of the Madison County NRCS office.

Read the full article by the Richmond Register.


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Louisville recognized as solar-friendly city

Lou-city-seal-jpgLouisville has been awarded a gold designation by SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, for its commitment to adopting practices that make it faster and easier to use solar energy. This is the highest designation given by SolSmart, distinguishing Louisville as a national leader in advancing solar energy.

A SolSmart designation provides national recognition that Louisville is a solar-friendly city ready to attract solar industry investment and to generate economic development and local jobs from the solar industry. Louisville is the first city in Kentucky to receive a designation from SolSmart.

“We are thrilled to achieve Gold designation in the SolSmart program. Solar power has become very cost effective and our citizens are eager to harness the sun’s energy in their homes and businesses,” Maria Koetter, Director of the Louisville Metro Office of Sustainability, said. “Through participating in the SolSmart program, we now have a clear-cut process for permitting and installing solar panels.”

To achieve designation, cities take steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning, permitting, financing, customer acquisition, and installation labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.

Read the full article on the Louisville Metro Government website.


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Energy efficiency celebrated at Earth Day Kentucky

SSP-jpeg-EarthDay KY logoEarth Day 2017 for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet took on an energy efficient theme as the Cabinet hosted the celebration of environmental awareness on April 19 at its LEED certified building, 300 Sower Boulevard in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Director of Communications John Mura welcomed employees gathered in the first-floor training space at 10:30 a.m., while more than two dozen exhibitors lined the hallway outside.

“As Kentuckians, we live in one of the most naturally beautiful and diverse places in the world,” Mura said. “Thanks to your efforts, Kentucky has made great progress in becoming a cleaner, healthier state.

“Did you know, for instance, that we’ve cleaned up more than 1,200 waste dumps across the Commonwealth in the past five years? Or removed pollutants from 130 miles of Kentucky streams and rivers? Or have seen the air get dramatically cleaner in places such as Louisville and Northern Kentucky where in the last 16 years, the state has cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 86 percent?”

Following Mura’s remarks, Amy Sohner, executive director of Bluegrass Greensource, a nonprofit environmental education organization serving Central Kentucky, spoke about taking personal responsibility for the environment.

“It is so important that we all get involved in not only Earth Day, or Earth Week, but make it Earth Day every day,” said Sohner. “We all need to change the way we think about our actions and thoughts that we each see how much everything we do impacts our environment.”

Haley McCoy, executive director of the Office of Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs for the Cabinet, presented the student winners of the ‘Capture the Earth’ photo and video contest.

Read about all of the day’s activities and view the winning photos and video at the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s “Land, Air & Water” webzine.



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KPPC engineer to serve as judge at state conference

Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC) Senior Sustainability Engineer Mark Toda will serve as a judge for the Kentucky Technology Student Association State Conference on April 24. The event is being held April 24-25 at the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Center in Louisville. Toda and other professionals within the competition areas will judge middle and high school events during the conference. The KPPC is a division of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville.

“Throughout my career, it has been a pleasure to work with students,” Toda said. “I appreciate their energy, desire to contribute and willingness to learn. The KYTSA Conference is a great opportunity to encourage students and maybe pass along some helpful insights.”

The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national organization of students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Open to students enrolled in or who have completed technology education courses, TSA’s membership includes more than 233,000 middle and high school students in approximately 2,000 schools spanning 49 states. TSA is supported by educators, parents and business leaders who believe in the need for a technologically literate society. Members learn through exciting competitive events, leadership opportunities and much more.

The diversity of activities makes TSA a positive experience for every student. From engineers to business managers, TSA alumni credit the organization with making a positive influence on their lives. The Kentucky Chapter of TSA (KYTSA) has seen a resurgence this year. It currently has over 300 more students affiliated with it than this time last year.


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Earth Day – The world’s largest civic observance

SSP-jpeg-EarthDay-imageThe concept of Earth Day was established in 1969 at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Conference in San Francisco. On March 21, 1970, a sanctioned Proclamation was signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.

Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Growing out of the first Earth Day, the Earth Day Network works with more than 50,000 partners in 196 countries to build environmental democracy. It works through a combination of education, public policy and consumer campaigns.

Learn more about 2017 activities nationally at the Earth Day Network website.

Also, check out these resources for ways to celebrate Earth Day on your own or locally:

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Free trees make Kentucky more green

SSP-jpeg-KY-Energy-LogoOne of the most popular programs of the Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF), is the state nurseries and tree seedlings program. With a target of growing 1.5 to 2 million seedlings each year, the division is doing its part to help reforest the Commonwealth.

“We gave away around 50,000 seedlings this season alone,” said Eric Gracey the forestry program manager with the KDF. “They are a great icebreaker to get to talk to people about planting trees and even some of the other great programs we offer. Everyone loves a free tree.”

With two seedling nurseries in Morgan and Marshall counties, the KDF is able to offer over 50 species of trees native to Kentucky, with the exception of the blight resistant Chinese chestnut. Some of their most popular varieties of trees are the dogwood, redbud and the sugar maple.

“We have actually seen a shift in demand for bee-friendly trees too,” said Gracey. “Trees likes like black locusts, yellow popular, dogwoods or any flowering tree are the first to go.”

The nurseries also have seen bottomland hardwoods go up in demand. Swamp white oak, pin oak, bur oak and over cup oak have become remarkably popular according to Gracey. Currently, feedback from the community has foresters exploring requests for basswood. Seed availability also strongly dictates what trees will be grown and offered to the public.

“We have five regional offices. When our foresters get out and give free trees in the communities, it’s usually for educational purposes.It also starts to build relationships with people in the community,” said Gracey. “It makes our folks that familiar face, and that’s a good thing. We want our people to be approachable and known. We want the word out on our programs and we want more trees in the ground.”

More trees in the ground is not only good for the Energy and Environment Cabinet, but it also has countless environmental returns such as enhancing wildlife habitat, improving urban areas and reclaimed surface mining sites. Not to mention the economic benefits of cleaner air, water and lower utility bills for the citizens of the Commonwealth.

According to Gracey most of KDF’s free trees are given away around Earth Day and Arbor Day to raise awareness of the earth and how important each and every tree planted is.

Read the full article on the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet’s “Land, Air & Water” webzine.

Seedlings are available for purchase in the KDF nurseries until the end of April for packages of 10 seedlings for $35, 50 seedlings for $55 and 100 seedlings for $70.

Seedlings may be purchased by contacting your local KDF Regional Office. For more information and pricing, visit the KDF State Nurseries and Seedlings website or the nursery order form [PDF].


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Grants available from Waste Tire Trust Fund

EEC LogoKentucky counties can now apply for $4,000 grants to be used for recycling and waste tire removal. The grants are funded through the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Waste Management (DWM) Waste Tire Trust Fund.

“This is a great opportunity for communities to remove waste tires and we encourage all counties to take advantage of this grant. Eligible expenses under this grant are the actual costs that the county incurs during the grant period for recycling or disposal of waste tires,” said Gary Logsdon, manager of DWM’s Recycling and Local Assistance Branch. “Other expenses, such as labor and equipment costs, are not eligible.”

The grant period is July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. Costs incurred by a county beginning July 1, 2017 for recycling or disposal of waste tires are eligible. Counties must submit receipts for those costs with their close-out report form by July 15, 2018.

Waste tire Grant applications must be submitted no later than June 1, 2017. These grants do not require a match. Any unused funds must be returned to the Cabinet by July 31, 2018.

The grant packets are being sent by email to county judge-executives and solid waste coordinators.

View the full article for more information in the “Naturally Connected” blog by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

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Teaching today for a bright tomorrow

Every June, select high school students completing their sophomore and junior years from across the Commonwealth, head to the University of Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland 4H Education Center to experience a weeklong adventure exploring Kentucky’s forests, wildlife and bugs.

The Kentucky Forest Leadership Program (KFLP) began over 50 years ago and has greatly evolved during that time. It is all made possible with the cooperation of the U.K. College of Agriculture, the Food and Environment Cooperative Extension Service, the Kentucky Division of Forestry and the Kentucky Division of Conservation.

“The first day of camp participants get introduced to one another, the subject they will be investigating for the week and then they learn the basic tools to gather some of the information for their investigation,” said Laurie Taylor Thomas, KLFP Coordinator and Extension Forester with the U.K. Department of Forestry.

“Consulting firms” made up of students from each track, or area of interest- forestry, wildlife and entomology- and are gently guided by a wide variety of natural resource professionals as they collect data and do investigations throughout the week. At the end of the week the students come back collectively with their firm and share their findings. From there, the students then create a management plan for the 80 acres of mixed forestland they have been assigned. This teaching experience allows the students to learn through peer teaching throughout the week instead of the usual student/teacher experience giving a definite more hands on experience and one many won’t forget.

Reminiscing on their adventures, the campers eyes widen and their voices practically bounce off one another as they finish each other’s sentences, stand up to tell stories and of course, laugh constantly. And though most campers agree that the camp left them with new skills, clearer priorities and enhanced confidence, they certainly did not forget to have fun.

“What could be more fun than learning new facts about trees and insects?” said camper Elijah Schultz who participated in 2016. “The things we learned were incorporated into fun team activities and competitions throughout the week. We did things like a scavenger hunt, Jeopardy-style trivia and a tree-planting race. There was hands-on learning as well. We gathered insects from nearby streams, wetlands, fields, forest and even a cave! And what we gathered, we actually used to make collections. On hikes, we learned to identify trees by actually seeing real specimens rather than just looking at pictures and reading about them in books. At each presentation, there was something interesting to watch or do, from skinning a beaver to even flying a drone.”
But the camp fun wasn’t only limited to the student campers. Forester Chris Oelschlager with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, has been involved with the program since 1997. When she began teaching at the camp, she wasn’t much older than the students and admits to having as much fun, if not more than the campers.

“KFLP is probably my favorite week of the work year, and I look forward to it each summer,” said Oelschlager. “I’m always impressed with how much they learn throughout the intensive, fast paced week. On Monday afternoon we start them with basic tree identification and by Friday morning they are presenting detailed management plans for 80 acres of mixed forestland. Until it ends on Friday, I don’t even think they realize how much they have done throughout the week.”

Read the full article on the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet’s “Land, Air & Water” webzine.

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4 Kentucky organizations ENERGY STAR Partners of the Year

Energy Star Award LogoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are honoring 143 businesses and organizations in 34 states and the District of Columbia for their commitment to saving energy, saving money and protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency achievements, according to a press release from the EPA.

Four of the 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Awardees are Kentucky-based businesses or organizations. They are:

Kenton County School District (Fort Wright, KY), Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence in Energy Management. This award is given to organizations for adopting a continuous energy management strategy across the organization’s entire portfolio of buildings and plants. The Kenton County School District is receiving consecutive recognition for its commitment to building and operating energy efficient schools, and for using ENERGY STAR tools and resources as a central component of its energy program. Read about the Kenton County School District’s accomplishments.

Kentucky School Boards Association (Frankfort, KY), Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence in Energy Efficiency Program Delivery. This award is given to states, utilities and other organizations for sponsoring energy efficiency programs to improve the efficiency of products, homes and buildings within their community or territory. The Kentucky School Boards Association is receiving consecutive recognition for its commitment to intelligent energy choices for new and existing public schools to enhance both the environment and educational opportunities for the Commonwealth’s 650,000 public school students. Read about the Kentucky School Boards Association’s accomplishments.

Big Ass Solutions (Lexington, KY), Award for Excellence in Product Design. This award is given to companies that demonstrate leadership in the design and manufacture of ENERGY STAR-certified products. Big Ass Solutions is receiving consecutive recognition for its demonstration that energy efficiency and environmental considerations are paramount to producing quality products for the American consumer. Read about Big Ass Solutions’ accomplishments.

Olin Brass (Louisville, KY), Partner of the Year – Energy Management. This award is given to organizations for adopting a continuous energy management strategy across the organization’s entire portfolio of buildings and plants. Olin Brass is receiving recognition for formulating an energy management program with EPA’s ENERGY STAR resources. Read about Olin Brass’ accomplishments.


The 2017 ENERGY STAR Award winners lead their industries in the production and sale of energy-efficient products and services, and in the development and adoption of strategies that provide substantial energy and money savings in the buildings where we live and work. The winners have been selected from a network of 16,000 ENERGY STAR partners.

The awards will be presented in Washington, D.C., at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on April 26. Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO, will give the partner keynote presentation.

Award categories:

  • Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence: The 97 Sustained Excellence winners have demonstrated continued leadership over several years in the ENERGY STAR program and in achieving environmental protection through superior energy efficiency.
  • Partner of the Year: Thirty-seven organizations have been awarded the Partner of the Year Award for comprehensively managing their energy use, promoting ENERGY STAR products and practices in their own operations, and providing energy-efficient products and services to their customers.
  • Excellence: Nine winners are receiving recognition for demonstrating outstanding promotion of energy-efficient products, homes or buildings.
  • Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year: Two of the Partner of the Year Awardees are winning at least in part for their superior efforts in promoting the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy with support from EPA.


Read about all 143 awardees.


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