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Hampton Creek Cove Natural Area Announces Management Policy Changes

Monday, February 28, 2011 | 07:57am
NASHVILLE – The Department of Environment and Conservation today announced management policy changes at the Hampton Creek Cove Natural Area in Carter County, which will increase protection of the natural area’s resources and safety of visitors. The changes include parking registration for “thru” hikers and closing the natural area to hunting. The changes take effect immediately.
 
There are no safety zones available at the cove, causing a potential safety hazard. Additionally, the use of hunting dogs conflicts with the natural area’s leash policy, which was put in place for visitor safety and to protect sensitive, off-trail habitats. Any pets or animals brought into the area must be kept on a leash at all times.   In addition to hunting, the area is closed to camping, campfires, horseback riding and motorized vehicles. 
 
The policy change gives the Tennessee Natural Areas Program an opportunity to evaluate the potential for limited hunting at Hampton Creek Cove in the future. 
 
“This area is open year round for passive recreation from sunrise to sunset,” said Lisa Huff, stewardship ecologist for East Tennessee. “We are closing the area to hunting at this time to ensure that all of Hampton Creek Cove’s visitors continue to enjoy the outstanding recreational activities this area offers in a safe environment.” 
 
Hiking, bird watching and wildflower walks are some of the more popular activities available at the natural area. In addition, the Left Prong of Hampton Creek is known as one of the best streams in Tennessee for native brook trout fishing. All features at Hampton Creek Cove are protected under the Natural Areas Preservation Act of 1971.  
 
Long-distance or thru hikers use the Hampton Creek Cove parking area to access the Birchfield and Cove Ridge segments of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail – up to or down from Yellow Mountain Gap on the Appalachian Trail. Under the new policy, thru hikers may use the parking area for a maximum of three consecutive nights, as long as they display a registration card on their vehicle dashboards. Registration cards are available at the information kiosk, located at the parking area trailhead. The Hampton Creek Cove use policies also are posted at the kiosk.
 
Hampton Creek Cove is a 693-acre natural area located in Carter County, near Roan Mountain State Park and is co-managed by the state of Tennessee and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. It is one of only three state natural areas found in the Blue Ridge province of Tennessee and is a key element of the Greater Highlands of Roan Conservation initiative. The natural area also is home to one of the largest breeding populations of golden-winged warblers in the Appalachian Mountains. Currently, the golden-winged warbler is a species in need of additional conservation management in Tennessee and is undergoing review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for potential listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. 

 
Environment and Conservation’s Resource Management Division provides oversight for Tennessee’s 81 designated natural areas, covering approximately 116,000 acres of ecologically significant lands throughout the state. For more information about Hampton Creek Cove, please call (865) 594-5601 or visit http://tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/hampton/
 
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