During National Bourbon Heritage Month in September, for every drink or bottle photo you share with the hashtag #ToastTheTrees, we pledge to plant a white oak tree during the following spring planting season. But where have we been planting all of these trees? For the past five years, we’ve been partnering with Arbor Day Foundation, and more recently with Green Forests Work, to ensure that every tree we plant helps contribute to a bio-diverse forest. That’s why we’ve been reforesting old strip mining sites throughout Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky for the last three years of the program.
A Look at the History of Daniel Boone National Forest
In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a national forest in Kentucky. Originally called Cumberland National Forest, this proved to be a divisive name for the fledgling state forest, as it was named after Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland. His brutality against the Jacobites during and after their rebellion resulted in an influx of Scottish refugees fleeing and resettling in the Kentucky region. It was an oddly cruel choice for a name to begin with, and in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson officially renamed the forest after Daniel Boone, the frontiersman who blazed the trails that opened Kentucky up to more than 200,000 settlers by the end of the 18th century.
Today, Daniel Boone National Forest occupies 708,000 acres within a proclamation bounty of 2.1 million acres spread across 21 counties. Initially the federal bounty was for 1,338,214 acres, but the forest area has expanded through donations from lumber and coal companies, as well as land purchases. Those coal land donations are where you’ve been helping us contribute. Strip mining leaves the landscape barren, and our oaks are planted with a mix of other local trees, creating what will be a healthy, viable forest within a generation or two.
Growing the Forests of the Future
We’re thrilled to be able to contribute to this national treasure. With over 600 miles of trails and breathtaking features like the Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone National Forest showcases Kentucky’s rugged beauty, and each of the photos you’ve shared is helping us to restore strip mined swaths of the forest to their original state. We’re conscious of the lumber that we use to age our bourbon in charred new oak barrels, and we believe that it’s important to give back so that future generations will always be able to enjoy the trees, either in barrel-form or their natural splendor.