Bredesen Celebrates Historic Land Acquisition For Tennessee

Thursday, November 15, 2007 | 06:00pm

Nashville - Governor Phil Bredesen joined Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke and representatives from The Nature Conservancy today to celebrate the completion of a historic 127,000-acre conservation acquisition on the northern Cumberland Plateau.

“Today we mark the successful conclusion to the largest land conservation initiative in our state since the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was dedicated in 1940,” Bredesen said. “This project gave us a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect ecologically significant woodlands on a large scale and make them available for recreation. It will also help protect our air and water quality and wildlife habitat, as well as the natural beauty and cultural heritage that make our state uniquely Tennessee.”

The project is called “Connecting the Cumberlands” because it connects the acquired property with other publicly owned land on the northern Cumberland Plateau. This connection creates a swath of protected forestland for preservation and public enjoyment that totals 200 square miles – about twice the size of the City of Knoxville where today’s celebration was held.

The state of Tennessee partnered with The Nature Conservancy and two conservation-minded timber companies, Conservation Forestry and Lyme Timber, to successfully complete the acquisition, which encompasses contiguous tracts in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan and Scott counties.  All 127,000 acres will be managed for public use by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee State Parks.

The state contributed $82 million to the $135 million total investment through a one-time appropriation supported by the General Assembly. Conservation Forestry and Lyme Timber contributed approximately $40 million, and The Nature Conservancy added $13 million, as well as a great deal of time and expertise, to help make the project successful.

“We’re pleased to celebrate the successful completion of this project with our partners here today,” said Fyke.  “It will increase recreational opportunities such as hunting and fishing, as well as hiking, biking, horseback riding and wildlife viewing, while at the same time, utilizing conservation tools that protect the land and local economies.”

Those conservation tools include working forest easements that allow working lands to continue to produce economic benefits with the use of sustainable forestry practices; conservation easements that provide protection without removing lands from the property tax rolls; and in lieu of tax payments made by the state to local communities on properties purchased outright.

“This is the kind of opportunity that doesn’t occur very often,” said Scott Davis, director of the Tennessee Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.  “We have to seize this moment to protect one of the last great places left in Tennessee.”

“I believe the best things are accomplished when people with a shared vision work together toward a common goal,” said Bredesen.  “We were able to do just that, successfully leveraging our resources to make an investment that will support tourism and the economies of some of our most rural areas, while at the same time ensuring this land is protected for the benefit of Tennesseans for generations into the future.”

For more information contact:

Lydia Lenker
Office (615) 741-3763

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