Kentucky Forests

Critically Endangered Ash Trees

We arrived in Louisville, eager to begin our search.

After contacting Julian Campbell, a naturalist from a lovely place named Griffith Woods, I decided to seek my first ash tree there.

Julian let us know that it was chigger and tick season and that winter would be a better time to visit. Undeterred, we set out, covered in bug spray. The trees were as well protected as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, with berry vines and brambles impeding the path. My husband and sister gamely braved the thorns and shoulder high undergrowth at my side.

Although I couldn’t get a clear photo in 2 hours of sweaty trekking through the undergrowth, we did see fields full of wildflowers and ecstatic bees. Leaving without accomplishing my objective was disheartening, but on my sister’s recommendation we decided to drive to Bernheim Forest. 

With a mostly volunteer work force, a beautiful refuge has been established. We hiked a number of the trails. It was cool and lovely under the trees, but still no sightings. Jim and Karen Scout were a couple of volunteers we met that spent vacation time there, and then decided to give back a considerable amount of their free time guiding visitors in the forest. We had a great conversation while we waited to climb the observation tower.

After a few hours of wandering we thought we might try for some expert advice and directions so we headed for the education center. In a wonderful stroke of good fortune, there was a beautiful white ash tree right next to it. 

After getting a number of shots, we left for the day. The next morning, I wanted to try one more expedition. Imagine my delight when along with some more  beautiful ash trees we found several other endangered trees of Kentucky in a protected area.

We had a few hours left before we flew out and so we went to the baseball bat factory in downtown Louisville, as my husband is a baseball fan, and learned that many of their bats are made of Ash, including 700,000 small souvenir baseball bats made each year. On their tour, they showed a video of their selection process, in which they mainly choose 65 year old trees with desirable characteristics, speaking of their sustainable practices. Ashes are critically endangered.

While accompanying my sister on her daily dog walk through Seneca Park, I encountered a number of beautiful ash trees, one of which had a gorgeous form and outstretched limbs. I had found the perfect subject for my first endangered tree painting

If you’d like to support my work, consider buying a print from my website.

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