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‘Nature’s Finest’ license plates help protect Kentucky’s natural habitats

When I traveled a lot with my family when I was young, we always played the license plate game. You may have played it, too — it’s where you try to see how many different license plates you can find from different states. It’s a great way to make the hours in a car go faster. Truth be told, I still love to play the license plate game on roadtrips. I love finding license plates from far away places.

It’s also interesting to me that there are so many different kinds of license plates for each state. In Kentucky, one of the kinds of license plates you can get is the Kentucky Nature License Plate. These license plates are some of my favorites. There are three different types — one has a male cardinal, one has a butterfly and the other has a wildcat.

While you have to have a license plate for legal reasons, these license plates are really cute, and even more importantly, they provide funding to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund.

The cost of these license plates is $10 more than the regular plate every year, but the cost is considered to a tax-deductible donation to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, so I would call that a win-win.

According to the Conservation Fund, they use the money to purchase “natural areas to be left as wild places held in trust for future generations.” So you can buy a license plate with a cute animal on it, count it as a tax-deductible donation and help protect natural areas.

I plan on getting a bright red cardinal for my bright red Prius the next time my registration is due.

The money raised by these plates really does go to preserving wild land. On March 16, Floracliff, a nature sanctuary located in Fayette County “acquired an adjacent 59 acres in the Kentucky River Palisades region in southern Fayette County, bringing the total acreage of the sanctuary to 346 acres,” according to a press release from the sanctuary.

This addition, which they are calling “Trail’s End” was “purchased with the help of the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund (funded in part by the sale of “Nature’s Finest” license plates).”

This land is important to protect because it is in the Kentucky River Palisades region and provides habitat for bats, amphibians, migrating birds and pollinators.

If you interested in visiting Floracliff, you can, but it is not regularly open to the public. They do have events that you can attend, but each event is limited to 15 participants, and it looks like they fill up pretty quickly. Each participant is encouraged to donate $5-$10. For more information on events and registration, you can visit floracliff.org/events.html.

So if you have a Nature’s Finest license plate, thank you! You helped make this happen. And if you don’t have one yet — like me — you should think about getting one because your donation can help protect more land. For more information about getting a Nature’s Finest license plate, visit heritageland.ky.gov/Pages/NaturePlates.aspx.

Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week

In Kentucky, we have 16 bat species. Bats live in colonies and like to roost in trees, buildings, caves and wood piles, among other places. A bat’s winter roosting place is called it’s hibernacula.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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