Could Beshear’s election be game changer for Bernheim?

Andrew Berry talks about the Bernheim’s work with diners during the Nov. 19 JOFEE Restaurant Night at the Monnik Beer Company. (Community photo Will Beasley)

Over the summer, Andrew Berry went on a “road show,” hitting the brewpubs and building support for the fight to save the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest from proposed highway bypass and utility projects have that threatened to cut through the preserve, disturbing delicate habitats.
Much has changed since then. Gov. Matt Bevin announced in October that the bypass will not cross the Bernheim, and Kentucky elected a new governor, Andy Beshear.
But Berry, director of conservation at the Bernheim, is taking nothing for granted.
“We’re waiting to see a final report on that before we let our guard down,” he said of the highway announcement.
As for Beshear, “I can’t say whether or not the election and transition going on in Frankfort will have any effect, but for Bernheim, it doesn’t change the way we look at issues; it doesn’t change the way we fight them.”
He said Bernheim continues to fight the proposed gas pipeline in Bullitt County Court, where Louisville Gas & Electric is suing the forest to obtain a corridor by eminent domain.
The state, which holds the conservation easement to property targeted for the corridor, also is being sued. Berry couldn’t say how Beshear’s election might affect that legal action.
Berry was the guest speaker at JOFEE Restaurant Night, Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Monnik Beer Company. Twenty-seven guests were on hand to hear Berry talk about the work done at the forest, and the threats to it.
The Bernheim matters to Jewish Louisville. JOFEE Director Alayna Altman, who grew up here, recalled exploring the woods, saying it was one of the first places where she felt connected to nature.
She said she was inspired by how the threats to the forest are engaging the community.
“The roots of Bernheim are Jewish,” Altman said.
Founded in 1929 when Isaac W. Bernheim bought the first 13,300 acres of land as a gift to Kentucky, the Bernheim is 90 years old this year.
Even while the Bernheim fights LG&E in court, Berry said the forest administration remains interested in acquiring more acreage before it is developed.

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