Gov. Beshear, State Officials Dedicate Rebuilt Morgan County Tree Nursery

Nursery destroyed in 2012 tornado

FRANKFORT, Ky. – On March 2, 2012, a tornado destroyed the Kentucky Division of Forestry’s Morgan County nursery buildings. The tornado that devastated the town of West Liberty scattered seedling bags and nursery debris into surrounding states.

Yesterday, Gov. Steve Beshear, Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters, Sen. Ray S. Jones II and Reps. John Will Stacy and Hubert Collins celebrated completion of the restoration project, which includes a new state-of-art processing building and a 5,000-square-foot cooler.

Gov. Beshear cut the ribbon made of tree seedling bags.

“I take great pride in celebrating this rebuilt tree nursery today,” he said. “The devastation that took place here two years ago seemed to be insurmountable. But with the commitment of forestry staff, the nursery is better than ever and is positioned to make an even bigger impact than before.”

Forests contribute more than $12 billion each year to Kentucky’s economy, according to a study by the University of Kentucky’s Departments of Forestry and Agriculture Economics.

Following the ribbon-cutting, nursery superintendent Charles Saunders led tours through the new buildings.

The nursery began in April 1960 on a site determined by the U.S. Forest Service to be the best location in Kentucky to grow tree seedlings. Approximately 1.5 million seedlings are grown each year beginning with planting seeds. Fifty different species of hardwoods and conifers are for sale for planting on open crop or pasture land, developing a Christmas tree plantation, enhancing wildlife habitat, improving urban areas and reclaiming surface mining sites. The nursery also has an American chestnut research orchard.

Both the Morgan County Nursery and the John P. Rhody Nursery in Marshall County will provide seedlings for the governor’s 20/20 Vision for Reforestation, an ambitious plan to reforest thousands of acres of land over the next two decades. Volunteer organizations, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and utility companies are joining the effort.

“Over the next 20 years, the 20/20 Vision campaign will plant 20 million seedlings produced by the Kentucky Division of Forestry,” said Secretary Peters. “The rebuilding of the Morgan County Nursery will be a boost to this effort.”

“I am honored to be included in the dedication of this new nursery and pleased to see the commitment and support for this program,” said Sen. Jones, of Pikeville. “I applaud the many volunteers who have already pledged their assistance to plant seedlings. It is symbolic that two years after the facility was destroyed by a tornado, it has been rebuilt and the reforestation of trees to follow will make an impact on our environment for decades.”

“I’m immensely proud, not just that we rebuilt the nursery following the deadly storms, but that it has been built back stronger and better than ever,” said Rep. Collins, of Wittensville. “This facility and the good work it will do for our area can only help us grow stronger as a community and for that I offer my thanks to everyone who helped make this day possible.”

“Today’s ribbon cutting is another positive step forward for our community, and another opportunity to heal from what happened a little more than two years ago,” said Rep. Stacy, of West Liberty. “I want to thank everyone in the General Assembly for their help and I especially want to thank Gov. Steve Beshear for the compassion he has shown to those who live here and for the many, many trips he has made to check on our progress.”

To date, the campaign has counted more than 110,000 seedlings planted.

Kentucky’s 20/20 Vision campaign is part of Gov. Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The governor launched kyhealthnow last month as an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative to significantly reduce incidence and death from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies, like a well-balanced environment, over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.

Seedlings are available for sale by the seedling or in bundles of various sizes and can be picked up at the nursery or shipped to customers. Orders are placed in the fall for planting in the spring.

To order seedlings, visit the Division of Forestry’s website at


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