A field trip was held on February 6, 2006 with representatives from the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, KICK 66, Kentucky Heartwood, Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest, scientists, highway engineers, cavers, local landowners and the press. The areas that would be most impacted by I-66 were visited. Sinking Valley, Short Creek, local Caves, the Rockcastle River corridor, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Sinking Creek and driving on state route 80 from Somerset to London were included in the itinerary. Local residents, farm and home owners from London and Somerset who would be impacted by I-66 construction were interviewed and were able to voice their opinions against I-66. Somerset videographer, Chris Johns, of CJ Productions, LLC, producer of The Caves of Sinking Valley discussed his one hour video documentary – a study of a 33 sq. mi. karst drainage basin, focusing on the ecological and cultural importance of a complex cave system, and potential dangers of building the proposed I-66 highway through the drainage basin. Dr. Ralph Ewers, Ph.D., professor of Geology and director of the Groundwater Research Laboratory at Eastern Kentucky University and noted Karst aquifer expert discussed dye tracing of waterways which flowed underground only to reappear miles away. Larry Simpson, a caver and highway engineer discussed how hazardous spills could wreak havoc on the regional water quality. Experts discussed the catastrophic ecological effects of hazardous spills, how sinkholes will develop in all probability causing unplanned and costly repairs.
The scenic beauty of this area, even in the depths of winter is truly something to behold. Rhodendron grow to 30 feet tall. Pines and Cedars mix with White Oak and other hardwoods. Trees grow out of rocks. And the rocks…the rocks are a rock lover’s paradise! Clean clear water – streams, rivers and waterfalls abound running above, through and below the rocks! Its paradise found. Birds and wildlife are everywhere. I was so thrilled that day to see an Eastern Meadowlark. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen one around here. And the caves and rock shelters! Most important is the truly spiritual nature of this place, through the karst and caves of Pulaski County to the Rockcastle, a designated Wild and Scenic River in the Daniel Boone National Forest. This area truly is a temperate rain forest which needs to be spared from the bulldozer. It needs to remain a wilderness, a nature lover’s delight. Its the beauty of the Daniel Boone National Forest that is the attraction which draws tourists here and entices high quality people (i.e. taxpayers who contribute to the local economy) and businesses to relocate to this area.