The Land Between The Lakes Association, Inc. was incorporated in Washington, DC in 1983 and received its 501 (c) (3) nonprofit designation in 1984.
From 1983 to 1999, the Land Between The Lakes Association (LBLA) partnered with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) at LBL. During that time LBLA helped to develop funding for projects such as eagle hacking towers, animal enclosures at the Woodlands Nature Station and a Red Wolf captive breeding program. Through its efforts, along with other partners, LBLA helped develop the Elk-Bison Prairie enclosure which allowed the reintroduction of elk to western Kentucky after a more than 150 year absence.
In 1989 LBLA teamed up with the West Kentucky Amateur Astronomers (WKAA) club to develop a funding and operational strategy for the Golden Pond Planetarium which had been closed by TVA. In the spring of 1990 the Golden Pond Planetarium reopened under the management of LBLA which has retained operational control ever since. LBLA and WKAA also worked together to build and operate the observatory located at the Golden Pond Visitor Center.
In 1997 and 1998, LBLA joined with the Kentucky Arts Council to work on an oral history project called “Connecting People and Place”. The project celebrated the rich cultural heritage of the region formerly known as Between the Rivers.
In 1999 the USDA Forest Service was designated as the managing agency for the Land Between The Lakes under the LBL Protection Act. LBLA entered into a new partnership arrangement with the Forest Service and assumed an expanded role at LBL by taking responsibility to provide interpretive programming staff at the Woodlands Nature Station, The Homeplace, and providing information clerks at five reception centers. This resulted in an expansion of our workforce from 13 to almost 40 people. In 2006 the food preparation and housekeeping staff at the Brandon Spring Group Camp joined our ranks. LBLA currently provides a variety of programs and services at LBL on behalf of the Forest Service and to the benefit hundreds of thousands of visitors each year utilizing over 50 full and part-time employees.
In June of 2001 the Friends Land Between The Lakes launched the LBL Bugle Corps—an organized group of trained volunteers that help monitor visitation to LBL’s very popular Elk & Bison Prairie.
In 2005 the Land Between The Lakes Association began operating as Friends of Land Between The Lakes; often referred to as Friends of LBL. We are now emphasizing Friends of Land Between The Lakes as our operating name.
Friends of Land Between The Lakes has continued to work to help improve LBL for the benefit of our members and the millions of visitors we host each year. We do this through such means as applying for grants; recruiting businesses, organizations and individual donors, and conducting capital funds campaigns. These efforts are supported by staff, Trustees and Advisors and through their hard work we have accomplished the following over the past few years:
- Replaced the theater seats in the Golden Pond Planetarium.
- Replaced the telescope and made other improvements to the Golden Pond Observatory.
- Since 2001, assisted 2000 to 3000 students per year with educational field trips to LBL through the School Field Trip Grant Program.
- Helped fund improvements to the Golden Pond Firing Range with an NRA grant and private donations.
- Obtained over $250,000 from the Commonwealth of Kentucky for trail improvements and landscape restoration at the Turkey Bay Off-Highway Vehicle Area.
- Received an Audubon grant which helped to fund energy efficiency improvements at the Brandon Spring Group Camp.
- Installed a new digital projector in the Golden Pond Planetarium.
- Recruited sponsors for benches and bike racks associated with the new Central Hardwoods bike/hike trail.
We have been successful in attracting a wide range of partners to help in these projects and programs. They range from Audubon, the National Rifle Association and the National Forest Foundation to the Johnston-Hanson Foundation, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, and BVI – Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc.; to many, many businesses and individuals from the region around Land Between The Lakes who appreciate what it offers and want to help it be successful. Two of our Oak Leaf Partners, Swift & Staley, Inc. and Facilities Services Management, Inc., have been major contributors to the School Field Trip Grant Program. We thank everyone who has helped with these programs and projects.