Bredesen Announces Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Grants

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 | 07:00pm

Nashville, Tenn. – Governor Phil Bredesen and the members of the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board have announced that four projects protecting approximately 1,975 acres have been approved for $3.8 million in grant funding.

In its meeting on June 1, the board also appointed Marie Stringer Yeagle as the first Executive Director of the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund. Yeagle previously served in Governor Bredesen’s policy office where she concentrated on land conservation issues and served as a liaison between the Governor’s Office and the Trust Fund Board.

“I am very pleased with the work and focus of the Heritage Conservation Trust. This fund allows us to work with other public and private partners for the conservation and protection of priority land across Tennessee,” said Bredesen.

“I am also delighted that Marie Stringer Yeagle has agreed to serve as the organization’s first executive director,” Bredesen said. “I know Marie’s efforts have been extremely helpful to the members of the board since the Trust Fund was formed in 2005 and the value she contributes to the board’s work will only increase as she gives it increased focus.”

The projects recently approved for grants from the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund include:

  • Friends of Warner Parks Hill Tract Acquisition, Davidson County – A $1.6 million grant to assist in the acquisition of 323 acres from the H.G. Hill Realty Company to protect park viewsheds and provide additional public access via a master plan to be developed by the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation with citizen and governmental input. A substantial portion of the project area consists of a unique stand of quality old growth timber, some of which appears to be virgin timber. Vaughn’s Gap Cave, which has been described by The Nature Conservancy as the best and largest cave in Davidson County, is also located in the project area.
  • Metro Parks and Greenways Mill Creek Park Land Acquisition, Davidson County – A $200,000 grant to acquire an ecologically significant 72-acre tract of land in the riparian zone of the Mill Creek watershed to establish a primarily passive recreation park along Mill Creek and expand the Mill Creek greenway system. The project will positively impact the Mill Creek watershed, which is listed on the state’s 303(d) list of impaired waters for sediment and habitat alteration due largely to the dramatic rate of development and loss of open space in this area of southeast Davidson County. Mill Creek also provides habitat for the endangered Nashville Crayfish.
  • South Cumberland State Park and Natural Area’s Savage Gulf Project, Grundy County – A $1.5 million grant to protect the view sheds along the bluff lines of Savage Gulf and protect an established state natural area. The 1,250-acre project will permanently preserve scenic vistas of the Big Creek Gulf and protect the Collins State Scenic River, which The Nature Conservancy has listed among the U.S. watershed hot spots with 10 or more at-risk imperiled aquatic species and 11 at risk fish and mussel species, including four listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Savage Gulf is an officially recognized National Natural Landmark and its trails have National Recreation Trail System status. The stage road in Savage Gulf is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the virgin timber tract has been described as the best and largest virgin forest left in the mixed mesophytic region of the Eastern deciduous forest.
  • Tennessee State Parks Camp Hazelwood Acquisition Project, Henry County – A $500,000 grant for the purchase of Camp Hazelwood from the Reelfoot Council of Girl Scouts of America to protect approximately 330 acres of lake front property for the expansion of environmental education and interpretive and outdoor activities offered by Paris Landing State Park. The property includes hardwood forest, open grasslands, deep river shoreline, springs and loblolly pine forests. According to an ongoing study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it attracts more than 300 documented birds residing and traveling the river along the flyway migration. Project partners include Henry County and U.S Fish and Wildlife.

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 given to projects that involve partnerships, leverage state funds, and enhance or connect existing public lands,” said Trust Fund Chair Drew Goddard. “This round of grants will help protect more than 1,975 acres with an estimated value of more than $24 million. The participation of the Heritage Conservation Trust fund in these projects provides the maximum benefit to Tennesseans while leveraging available funds.”

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 application deadline for the next grant funding cycle will be September 1, 2007, with grants to be announced in December 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:

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