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Appalachian Wildlife Foundation progress update

From WRIL/Content from Bell County Fiscal Court video

Thursday afternoon April 17th the Bell County Fiscal Court hosted an update on the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation Project at Pine Mountain State Resort Park.

The AWF’s David Ledford and Frank Allen spoke at length to a full room about what people can expect from the end result of the project.

It was stated that the organization is a 501 c3 nonprofit and that money generated on site will be spent on education and wildlife conservation with 1.5 to 2 million dollars going toward scholarships and an expected 5 million dollars in mission money by 2023 after the 2021 opening.

It is also expected that there will be 850,000 visitors to the site yearly by 2023 with two percent coming from the Tri-State region. The numbers were provided by several agencies such as the US Department of Commerce, the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet, US Department of the Interior, an independent consultant out of Indianapolis, and the USDA.

The foundation has raised 43 million dollars so far and will require another 7 million to finish the project and construction has begun at the site.

The Appalachian Wildlife Project has been defined as a one of a kind family friendly site encompassing 19 square miles and will be home to several different species of wildlife with an emphasis on bird watching. The AWF has relocated 246 elk to the site to date. There will also be nature trails and guided tours in the experience including several picnic areas along with an open-air zoo and petting zoo.

The Wildlife Center will house museums, a theater, a restaurant, an opportunity to meet artists, authors, and craftsman invited to display their work. The center is expected to be accessible to students of all ages and active in our community.

It is expected to bring in 174 million dollars in regional spending creating 2900 new jobs regionally and the men emphasized that local businesses should be preparing now for an influx of customers when the site is finished.

The center expects to start hiring in the fourth quarter of next year and at full staff of 169 jobs by May of 2021.

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