The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced this week that $1.875 million will be granted to a Tennessee project led by The Land Trust for Tennessee (LTTN) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) that will protect 4,800 acres of privately owned forestlands in Franklin County.
Funding for the project is provided by the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, which is designed to protect “working forests” from development. Working forests provide clean water, wildlife habitat, wood products, recreational use and other public benefits. The Franklin County property will stay in private ownership and will continue to supply the area’s sawmills with timber resources.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry will use the funds to purchase a working forest conservation easement on the property. The conservation easement will allow long-term, sustainable timber management to occur on the property while ensuring that the forests there are not cleared for development. Conservation groups and government agencies have been working together in Franklin County for over 30 years to safeguard its magnificent forestlands, caves, springs and wildlife.
“I am delighted that the Forest Legacy Program made it possible for Tennessee to secure the sustainable productivity and other conservation values of this special 4,800-acre tract,” said Jere Jeter, Tennessee State Forester.
The property adjoins the northern boundary of the 8,943 acre Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the Walls of Jericho State Natural Area, which were protected with Forest Legacy Program funds in 2006-2007. Along with protecting the diverse and productive forests, the land includes more than 10 miles of scenic bluffs, two federally endangered species, wetlands and 10 miles of headwater streams in the Crow Creek drainage.
“The public-private partnership for this Southern Cumberlands tract reflects the highest ideals for conservation of special places in Tennessee,” said Jean C. Nelson, executive director of The Land Trust for Tennessee.
“This easement is a conservation solution that makes good economic sense, and we feel fortunate to be able to protect these valuable acres to provide both economic and ecological benefits to the area,” said Gina Hancock, state director of The Nature Conservancy’s Tennessee Chapter.
LTTN and TNC officials want to thank U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander’s office for supporting working forests and helping support funding for Tennessee’s landowners.
Article by The Nature Conservancy.