Bredesen Announces Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Grants

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | 06:00pm

Nashville, Tenn. – Governor Phil Bredesen and the members of the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board have announced that eight projects totaling more than 15,000 acres are eligible for the first grants to be awarded by the Trust Fund since it was established in June 2005.

Eight grant applications were approved by the members of the Trust Fund Board in their meeting today, including projects submitted by the Land Trust for Tennessee, Tennessee Nature Conservancy and North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy. Two of the approved projects involve the acquisition of more than 3,000 additional acres being sold to the state by Bowater Incorporated. Governor Bredesen announced yesterday that the state has closed on its initial purchase of approximately 12,500 acres from Bowater.

“The goal in establishing the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund was to create a mechanism for the state to work with other public and private partners for the conservation and protection of priority tracts, and that’s exactly what these projects reflect,” said Bredesen. “I’m very pleased with the work of the Trust Fund Board, the caliber of the projects selected for the first round of grant awards, and appreciative of the support of the General Assembly in providing the initial funding for these projects.”

The projects approved for grant awards must meet certain criteria before the funds are provided, including property surveys and appraisals, environmental assessments and enactment of mechanisms such as conservation easements to guarantee the permanent protection of the properties.

“Greater prioritization for funding is being given to projects that involve partnerships, extensive leveraging of funds, and those that enhance or connect existing conservation lands,” explained Trust Fund Chair Drew Goddard. “The first grant application process will protect more than 15,000 acres valued at $21 million, of which approximately $10,350,000 will be funded by Trust Fund grants. We are very pleased with this outcome of the first grant application process.”

Eligible projects range from the preservation of tracts for the purposes of tourism and recreation to projects focused on protecting or restoring the state’s physical, cultural, archaeological, historical and environmental resources.

The projects approved by the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board today include:

  • The Hiwassee River Project, Land Trust for Tennessee – Estimated grant of $351,250 to leverage the purchase of two conservation easements on adjacent properties that front the Hiwassee River in Reliance, Tenn.
  • The Lost & Champion Coves Project, Land Trust for Tennessee – Estimated grant of $1 million for a tract connecting the Franklin/Marion State Forest, University of the South Domain and Carter State Natural Area.
  • The Alpine Mountains/East Fork Obey River Project, Tennessee Nature Conservancy – Estimated grant of $2.5 million for an approximately 4,208 acre tract containing Skinner Mountain, located within the Alpine Mountain Conservation Area. The property is considered a bird conservation hotspot according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with 15 notable migratory birds species having been documented there.
  • The Big Forks Tree Farm Project, North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy – Estimated grant of $500,000 to expand the State of Tennessee’s Forest Legacy Conservation Easement on the Walden Ridge portion of the Cumberland Plateau adjoining the Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area. The purchase will help protect priority wildlife habitat and contribute to the protection of watersheds and waters flowing into the Tennessee River Gorge.
  • Briggs Tract Purchase, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency – An estimated $300,000 grant to purchase a Fayette County tract located on both the North and South sides of the Wolf River that contains a large stand of native bottomland forest shifting to successional wetland tree species in the floodplain. Wildlife expected to benefit include several rare mussels found in this part of the Wolf River.
  • Great Bay Tract Purchase, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency – An estimated $578,500 grant for the purchase of a tract forested by native hardwood trees in White and Van Buren Counties that provides habitat for several imperiled species including four bat species. Cliffs associated with the gorge area also have potential as home to peregrine falcons.
  • Bowater Purchase Phase II, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation – Estimated grant of $4.1 million to purchase approximately 3,000 additional acres with exceptional conservation value from Bowater Incorporated. This follows on the heels of the state closing on its initial purchase of approximately 12,550 acres from Bowater last week.
  • Bowater Purchase Phase III, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation – Estimated $960,700 grant for the purchase of two tracts adjoining existing state lands managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Division of Forestry. The Nature Conservancy is working in partnership with the state on this project and will purchase the properties from Bowater initially and then sell them to the state at appraised value.

The application deadline for the next grant funding cycle will be March 1, 2007, with grants to be announced in June 2007. Projects demonstrating a level of urgency for threatened lands may also be considered by the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board at any time. Pre-application instructions and forms and additional information about the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund is available at:

For more information contact:

Tisha Calabrese-Benton
Office (865) 594-5442

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