The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Louisville District, is revising the Buckhorn Lake Master Plan. The Master Plan is intended to serve as a comprehensive land and recreational management plan with a life span of 25 years. It guides the stewardship of natural and cultural resources and the provision of outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities to ensure sustainability of federal land associated with Buckhorn Lake.
About Buckhorn Lake
The Louisville District designed, built and operates the project to reduce flood damages downstream from the dam. The lake provides water supply and serves to augment low-flow conditions downstream in the interest of water quality control. In addition, the lake provides varied recreational opportunities. During the fall and winter months, when excessive rainfall is likely, the lake is kept at a relatively low level referred to as winter pool. Should heavy rains occur, surface water runoff is stored in the lake until the swollen streams and rivers below the dam have receded and can handle the release of the stored water without damage to lives and property. The lake is situated in Leslie and Perry counties on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau, offering the scenic beauty of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The dam is located near the small community of Buckhorn, Ky., about 100 miles southeast of Lexington and 30 miles west of Hazard. The 1,230 acre Buckhorn Lake and surrounding area offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. The Corps, in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Kentucky manages the land and water for wildlife, fisheries and recreation.
What is a Master Plan?
A Master Plan is the document that conceptually establishes and guides the orderly development, administration, maintenance, preservation, enhancement, and management of all natural, cultural, and recreational resources of a Corps water resource project. A Master Plan is a land use management document. It is focused on the operations and maintenance of an existing project and is no longer a “new project” document. Master Plans do not include water management operations and associated prime facilities (dam, gates, powerhouses, spillways, etc.). Of critical importance is the need to emphasize that a Master Plan is stewardship driven and must seek to balance recreational development and use with protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources.
Why do we need a new Master Plan?
The current Buckhorn Lake Master Plan was completed in 1972, and have been used as guide for recreational and environmental stewardship decisions. The Plan and the land classifications are in need of revision to address changes in regional land use, population, outdoor recreation trends and USACE management policy. Key topics to be addressed in the revised Master Plan include revised land classifications, new natural and recreational resource management objectives, recreation facility needs and special topics such as invasive species management and threatened and endangered species habitat. Public participation is critical to the successful revision of the Master Plan.
Public Involvement in Master Planning Process
Public participation will be a priority in the current Master Planning process. We will be seeking public input from key stakeholders and partners. In addition, open houses or public meetings will also be utilized to gather input from the general public. We really want to know what you want, what your vision is for the future management of recreation and environmental stewardship programs might be, etc.
Master Plan Classification
The master plan identifies classification (i.e. zoning) for the lakes. Public lands are allocated and classified into management categories which, based upon resources available and public needs, will provide for full utilization while protecting project resources. This zoning determines what types of development are permitted – for instance campgrounds are permitted in intensive use areas but not wildlife management zones. The original Master Plan used slightly different zoning terminology than the new plan will use and also included detailed construction diagrams for campgrounds, picnic areas etc., and this level of detail will not be outlined in the new plan.
We will again re-assess the project’s environmental attributes, public needs, etc. but will not be producing detailed site designs. Instead the focus will be on gathering public input and developing detailed natural resource inventories to guide in reassessing the future recreational needs and desired future conditions for natural resources.