The Forest Service gets a fair share of criticism from various competing interests as the agency tries to balance desire by many to enjoy outdoor activities in a quiet, serene environment with others who want to harvest resources and enjoy the outdoors with modern (and loud) machines.
This is a difficult mission but agency is making it work, at least in some situations we know about. In a recent visit to one US Forest Service site, we were struck by the efforts being made and the success that has been achieved by the Forest Service and several of its partner companies and agencies to recreate a historic landscape that all Americans can enjoy.
Land Between the Lakes is the largest inland peninsula in the United States. It is a rural area located in Western Kentucky and Tennessee.
One particular feature of the Land Between the Lakes was especially striking and an interesting lesson in our history.
The Forest Service is recreating a prairie in the Land Between the Lakes. Prairie grasses have not been dominant in this region for more than 150 years and bison and elk were nearly extinct. Now, the prairie plants and animals have been reintroduced to the area and herds of bison and elk roam the area. In February 1996, elk were brought into a 700-acre preserve and they are reproducing. In fact 25 of the elk at the Land Between the Lakes were taken to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park to reintroduce the elk to that area as well.
Visitors can tour the area and see bison and elk roaming the area. While some of the best-known national parks are overrun with tourists, on the day we visited Land Between the Lakes, we only saw five other cars in the restored prairie area, Visitors can see the land as it existed in this area some 200 years ago (no hunting the elk or bison though).
A map of the area is available at http://www2.lbl.org/lbl/LBLWhereWeAreMap.pdf
The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is well worth the trip. Our thanks to the US Forest Service for its work in preserving this part of America’s national heritage.