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Coming Soon: Money that Really Does Grow in Trees in KY

April 3, 2009

Berea, KY – Money really can grow on trees in Kentucky. It’s a new way of thinking about the state’s vast forestlands, most of which are privately owned. Landowners are learning they can be paid to leave big, healthy trees standing so they can absorb carbon pollution from the air, and they can do it by selling carbon credits.

Scott Shouse, forester with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), is helping Kentuckians certify their forested acres to qualify for the carbon trading market.

"They’re looking for a way to pay the taxes, or get some sort of income from the forest without having to cut it all down. You’ll only have one harvest in your lifetime, probably, on any given spot in the forest."

The average Kentucky forest owner has 26 acres of trees, which are available to logging only once every 70 or 80 years, according to Shouse. Sustainable management, however, makes the forest eligible for carbon trading, and that could mean a modest, steady cash flow, he adds.

"They want to keep their woods, but they also want to get some money from it. Everybody’s hoping the carbon credits will help them do that."

The first series of Kentucky-certified forests are expected to be offered on the Chicago Climate Exchange within the next 90 days. MACED has helped about 30 landowners certify their forests and dozens more are interested. The main driver is the potential growth in the carbon market following the development of a federal cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon pollution – which many believe is associated with climate change.

More info at

Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY