This conference is free and open to the public. Please register in advance to confirm your spot and commit to attending both days as we will be providing lunch for registered attendees.

The Upper Cumberland watershed is an exceptionally biodiverse landscape, including a wide range of habitat types. It is home to a large number of federally and state listed threatened and endangered species, and a very large number of other declining species of concern. The region includes major portions of the Daniel Boone National Forest (U.S. Forest Service), the entirety of Cumberland Gap National Historic Park (managed by the National Park Service), and the entirety of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (managed by the National Park Service). There are species occurring nowhere else on Earth, thirty federally protected species, and many other declining species of concern. Freshwater mussels in particular are highly threatened by climate change.

Conference Focus:

  • Highlight challenges for the public relating to climate change on species in and along the Upper Cumberland Watershed (Land and waters along the tributaries of the Rockcastle River, Laurel River, Big South Fork, Lake Cumberland).
  • Provide new opportunities to exchange knowledge among a broad base of constituents and stakeholders including the public at large.
  • Provide opportunities for public engagement in affected communities and encourage community-based solutions and strengthen relationships among stakeholder groups.

Who Should Attend?

  • Frontline community groups and stakeholders who live in the Upper Cumberland region, who want to participate in a discussion on the environmental, cultural and economic future of this region and how to build a more resilient community in an era of climate change.
  • Citizens and leaders who are involved in the economic sustainability of the Upper Cumberland region with an interest in coordination between economic interests and the resiliency of our natural lands.
  • Local entities who work on sustainability, land and water conservation, biology.
  • Community Nonprofits who work on climate, sustainability, and community resilience issues.
  • Citizens who are interested in climate solutions, and are looking for more information on how wildlands and watersheds in the region may play a role.

Conference Schedule Subject to Change (Watch for schedule updates):


Thursday, October 10, 2019:

Friday, October 11, 2019:

  • 9:00-9:30: Check in, Review of the day’s agenda
  • 9:30-10:00: Outdoor Recreation and the Outdoor Economy [Presented by the Explore Kentucky Initiative/Ky. Urban-Rural Exchange]
  • 10:00-11:00: Research on Disturbance and Climate Change [David Brown, Eastern Kentucky University]
  • 11:00-12:00: The Wetland Forest Initiative [Presented by the Dogwood Alliance]
  • 12:00-1:30: Lunch- Provided for advance registered attendees
  • 1:30-2:30: Climate Impacts on Waterways in the Upper Cumberland [Ward Wilson, Ky Waterways Alliance] and Adapting to Climate Change in Tennessee –Agriculture Adapting to More Droughts and Floods [Forbes Walker, soil specialist, University of Tennessee Knoxville]
  • 2:30-2:45 Break
  • 2:45-3:45: Rare species diversity and management in the upper Cumberland [Presented by Mike Compton and Zeb Weese, Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves]
  • 3:45-5:00: Citizen Scientists and Engaging the Community in Biodiversity and Conservation [Presented by LiKEN Knowledge Exchange]
  • 5:00: Wrap up and Actions

This conference is free. Please register in advance LINK HERE In order to encourage a broad participation from the community, travel/meal stipends may be available for those who may need expense assistance. For a stipened application, contact Lane Boldman, Ky. Conservation Committee,

This conference is being organized by a coalition including The Kentucky Conservation Committee, Kentucky Heartwood, The Center for Biological Diversity, Dogwood Alliance and the Livelihood Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN).

Where to Stay?

We are providing this conference for free at the conference center at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Lodging is not provided as part of the conference registration. However you are invited to call the Cumberland Falls lodge [Link Here] and there is also a campground available on site [Link Here].  We can also suggest several nearby options for attendees below.

Nearby B&Bs:

Hotels in Corbin (25 minutes away):

Hotels in Williamsburg (25 minutes away):

Hotels in Whitley City (30 minutes away):

Hotels in Somerset (45 minutes away):

There are also a wide variety of campgrounds and Air BNB’s in the region.