Special to the Daily News
FRANKFORT — Bell County Forestry Camp (BCFC) celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. An event to mark the occasion will be held on Oct. 24, beginning at 10 a.m. Tours of the facility will take place throughout the day.
The smallest of 12 state prisons in Kentucky, the BCFC is nestled in the foothills of Pine Mountain and the Kentucky Ridge State Forest. The facility began as a joint venture with the state Department of Corrections and the Division of Forestry, in an effort to benefit both agencies and their endeavors.
“It all started with 27 inmates carefully chosen from the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange. These inmates and corrections staff became the Bell County Forestry Camp,” said BCFC Warden Kathy Litteral. “This effort was an experiment to open up an entirely new concept in the rehabilitation of minimum security inmates in Kentucky.”
For the Division of Forestry, it held the promise of badly needed assistance in forest improvement and fire suppression. When the camp was completed, the inmates were assigned to building fire trails and breaks, maintaining equipment, planting trees and other jobs not covered.
That cooperative agreement continues today. Eleven individuals have held the warden’s post at the BCFC, beginning with longtime corrections professional Harold Black in 1962, up to Litteral’s appointment this year. Litteral was promoted to warden in June after serving several years as deputy warden at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex. She is the first female warden of the Bell County prison.
The Bell County Forestry Camp houses 300 inmates and is situated approximately 14 miles southwest of Pineville. The prison employs 48 full-time employees and one part-time employee. In addition, a host of community volunteers in the areas of religion, substance abuse and literacy training are an integral part of the prison.