Group opposes new resort development at Red River Gorge

A group has started a fundraising campaign as they continue to push their concerns over a resort development for the Red River Gorge.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 10:33 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A group has started a fundraising campaign as they continue to push their concerns over a resort development for the Red River Gorge.

The proposal was first discussed nearly three years ago, and includes a restaurant, distillery and room for live performances.

They are looking for $60,000 to fund studies on any environmental impacts the development would cause in the area. Developers said the nearly 900-acre site would bring 500 jobs to the area.

“We want to see the locals have opportunities to expand their businesses and bring more clientele for their businesses,” said Elmer Whitaker with Red River Economic Development. That was in 2020, when plans for the resort were announced.

It’s set to go up right off the Slade exit of the Mountain Parkway, but not everyone is completely on board with the plans.

“We’re not against development, we’re not against economic development, we’re not against business. We’re very much for business. But only business that’s done in a sustainable way,” said Dan Shields with Red River Gorge United.

Red River Gorge United sent a call for donations Tuesday, saying the money would “expand its efforts to stop a development that threatens the beauty and enjoyment of this world-renown ecological resource.”

The co-founder of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo said in a statement, “it’s a slippery slope that risks turning the area into the next Gatlinburg.”

“Most people who have for years come to the Red River Gorge know it’ inherent dangers and risks and takes steps to avoid those. As you have more and more people coming into the area, you’re going to have more and more people that are increasing those safety risks,” Shields said.

Developers said the project is estimated to cost $135 million.

Back in October 2019, neighbors first gathered for a town hall hosted by the Red River Economic development group. They have since hosted others to hear concerns and post updates on the project on their website.

There is an environmental report available on the Red River Economic development group’s website. In July 2020, a biologist visited the site and did point out which factors the group needs to consider, and who to consult with as they move forward.

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