FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission has unanimously approved a resolution that supports Gov. Steve Beshear’s economic development effort in Paducah.


The resolution asks the federal government to allow 665 acres of the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area to be used for an economic development project adjacent to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.


“I appreciate the support from the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission on this project,” Gov. Beshear said. “This helps move this important development along so we can bring good-paying jobs to the Commonwealth and ensure economic stability for the well-trained workforce of this region.”


The new project involves plans by GE Hitachi to apply for a license to construct the Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) project.  The GLE has advised the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it will make application by this fall to construct and operate the new laser enrichment facility.


Owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, the gaseous diffusion plant has operated since the 1950s. It was announced in May 2013 that the DOE would not extend its agreements to subsidize the facility’s operations. The plant employed approximately 1,100 skilled workers until this past fall.


Since the announcement was made that the facility would be shut down, Beshear has met several times with U.S. Department of Energy and administration leaders to find other uses for the plant. According to a letter from GLE to the NRC, approval for construction of the new plant is requested by November 2016.


The West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area currently covers 6,560 acres.


The Fish and Wildlife Commission, in a resolution approved Friday, said it supported this new economic development opportunity. The land for the wildlife management area was given to the Commonwealth by the federal government at no cost. The resolution asks the U.S. Department of the Interior to lift restrictions for use of the 665-acre tract and allows Gov. Beshear to use it for economic development.


Commission Chairman Stuart Ray said the wildlife management area will have more than 5,800 acres and remain open to the public for hunting and outdoor recreation.


“The commission is pleased to offer this assistance for this important economic development opportunity,” Ray said. “Although the primary focus of our Commission remains what is in the best interest of our sportsmen and women and resources of the Commonwealth, there is a greater good at issue here, and that is the benefit of the people of western Kentucky. We will be working over the next few months to assure there is no loss of amenities to the sportsmen, including a dog training field trial course and a dove field at this wildlife management area.”


The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources owns or manages over 1 million acres of public land that sportsmen and women enjoy throughout Kentucky.


Over the last year, the department has added more than 6,000 acres to wildlife management areas statewide, more than 4,000 acres of that in western Kentucky.


“The department is the beneficiary of thousands of acres, often as a result of federal funds and grants. This is a very specific one-time economic opportunity that has a specific benefit to this area. This by no means will open the door for any other loss of WMA property.” Ray said.






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