Kentucky Working for Wildlife Event Draws Over 60 Volunteers to Collect White Oak Acorns

October 23, 2023 By: NDA Staff

NDA recently wrapped up its third and final 2023 Working for Wildlife Tour event with MeatEater and Mark Kenyon of Wired to Hunt in eastern Kentucky. Over 60 volunteers and agency staff gathered at Craigs Creek Group Area in the Daniel Boone National Forest to collect white oak acorns that will be used to grow seedlings to be replanted back into the same forest.

NDA has multiple stewardship agreements with the U.S. Forest Service to improve habitat in the London and Cumberland Ranger Districts of the Daniel Boone National Forest as part of our Public Lands Initiative. The acorns collected in this Working for Wildlife event will have a direct impact on some of those agreements, namely regenerating an area previously treated by NDA staff.

Volunteers of all ages came out to collect acorns to improve local habitat for future generations.

“Our recent acorn collection event is a great example of the power partnerships bring to land management. We spent the day in the woods working side by side with volunteers from federal, state, non-profit, private and public backgrounds to collect acorns for the shared goal of oak regeneration on our public lands,” said H. Scott Ray, Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor. “This event was a two-fold success. We collected over 700 pounds of acorns to regenerate oak on our forest and shared the importance of oak regeneration with new audiences who will take that message forward to their own lands.”

After a brief welcome and some instruction, volunteers were organized into six groups and disbursed to some of the 58 pre-determined sites that had been scouted by the USFS. Acorns were mostly collected by hand, but there were several collection tools that helped make quick work of the process in more manicured areas. The acorns collected were taken directly to the state nursery and should provide approximately 15,000 seedlings that will eventually be replanted in areas with recent timber harvests to encourage regeneration of more wildlife-friendly tree species, ultimately becoming a white oak dominated forest ecosystem.

A portion of the 700+ pounds of acorns collected during the event.

At the end of the day, volunteers enjoyed an onsite social and catered dinner from Durham’s BBQ out of London, Kentucky. All the catering costs were underwritten by Independent Stave Company.

Mark Kenyon and NDA staff members Matt Ross and Austin Carroll hosted. Mark passed out Working for Wildlife Tour t-shirts to volunteers to go along with NDA caps in FirstLite’s Specter camo pattern. Special thanks to MeatEater, Mark Kenyon, the U.S. Forest Service, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, University of Kentucky, and Wiregrass Ecological Associates for making this event possible. Also, thanks to the Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Outdoor Fund for their involvement in NDA’s Public Lands Initiative.

MeatEater’s Mark Kenyon poses for his acorn collection hero shot.

This Working for Wildlife Tour workday was part of NDA’s larger Public Lands Initiative on National Forests in multiple states. In all, NDA’s Public Lands Initiative has set a target of 1 million acres improved for wildlife by 2026.