Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) announced today that another $500,000 in federal funding has been designated for the acquisition of the Fern Lake watershed for inclusion in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. These funds are included in the FY10 Interior Department spending bill, which has been approved by a key congressional subcommittee.
“The acquisition of Fern Lake and the surrounding watershed has long been a priority of mine, and I’m pleased to see the cooperation of local and federal officials, as well as the fine contribution of the Trust for Public Lands, to expand this historical national park,” said Rogers. “Fern Lake is a prime example of pairing economic development with protecting our environment and heritage. Not only will this funding increase tourism and expand recreation options for visitors to Cumberland Gap, but this initiative preserves the lake resources and ensures a clean water supply for the citizens of Middlesboro.”
Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Rogers sponsored the Fern Lake Conservation and Recreation Act, enacted in 2004, which authorized the National Park Service to expand the boundary of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park to incorporate the lake and 4,500 acres in its watershed. Since 2005, McConnell and Rogers have secured $4.95 million for this important acquisition, which protects the drinking water supply for the residents Middlesboro, preserves Appalachia’s historic passageway to the west for future generations, and promotes tourism and economic development in surrounding counties. In December 2008, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a non-profit conservation organization, purchased a key tract of land surrounding Fern Lake from a private landowner, and in a May 28, 2009 ceremony, with the funds secured by McConnell and Rogers, TPL conveyed over 2,000 acres of this property to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. To date, 4,021 acres of the watershed have been added to the park, and the ultimate goal is to acquire 4,500 acres within the sightline of the park’s popular Pinnacle Overlook.
Rogers currently serves as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. Through this role, Rogers supports important initiatives in the Fifth Congressional District.