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December 27, 2012
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Ringing in the New Year with Conservation Easements - Part 1!!

The Cumberland Plateau area is known for it's biodiversity, it's history, recreational opportunities and view shed.  The conservation easements FLC has recently completed  assist in the preservation of this beautiful area and help to establish wildlife corridors for large, protected areas nearby such as South Cumberland State Recreational Area and Fall Creek Falls State Park. - Bill Clabough, FLC Executive Director

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Harper Branch - 500 acres (Van Buren County)

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    The 500 acre Harper Branch property is situated on the southwestern portion of the Cumberland Plateau (south of Spencer, Tennessee). Within a short driving distance from this property, lies the northernmost portion of South Cumberland State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park and Rock Island State Park.

    Roughly 2/3 of the Harper Branch property is in early-successional grasses, forbs and shrubs with the remainder in mature loblolly pine plantation. Grasses such as Broomsedge, Rabbit Tobacco, Green Sawbriar, Dwarf Sumac, and Canada Goldenrod are prominent. 

    Adjacent to 1.5 miles of the Property’s southern boundary includes the more diverse habitat and culturally historic Trail of Tears (Northern Route), which is a narrow band of about 200’ wide of older growth timber in largely mixed hardwoods and some pines.  The forb and sub-canopy layers on the Trail of Tears are fairly diverse in natives and together provide quality food sources, nesting and cover for many native wildlife and invertebrate species. 

    Headwaters for three streams that drain to the nearby Rocky River originate on the Property. The Harper Branch tract lies within the immediate watershed of the Rocky River which was classified in the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Tennessee Rivers Assessment Report of 1998 as being of regional significance.  24 rare aquatic species are noted within the watershed.

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Cane Creek - 345 acres (Van Buren County)

    The property is nearly 100% in woodland with about 75% in planted pine plantations and the remainder in mixed oak forest (within the drainages and riparian areas).

    The large areas of public lands in the region include the 20,000 acres of the Fall Creek Falls State Park and Natural Area which is less than one mile from the Property, and the Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness totaling almost 15,000 acres less than ten miles away.

    As an almost completely forested landscape, the Cane Creek property functions as an especially important buffer to the adjacent conservation areas and is a critical component in the support of regional continuity and ecological viability of wildlife corridors R0013673between these vast protected public lands on the Cumberland Plateau, Cumberland Escarpment and Cumberland Mountains.

    The property is located within the Caney Fork River watershed and contains the source of the Whetstone Fork of Cane Creek, which then flows into nearby Fall Creek Falls State Park and supports Cane Creek Falls, a popular destination in the Park.

   Currently a 60,000 acre wilderness corridor is envisioned by Conservationists who hope to link Scott's Gulf to Bledsoe State Forest and Fall Creek Falls State Park. The Cane Creek Property would at lease serve as a buffer, and therefore conserving the property in its natural state would further the goal of establishing a vast, unbroken corridor.


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Piney Cumberland - 439 acres (Van Buren County)

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    This easement adjoins another potential conservation tract of 464 acres, which FLC hopes to finalize on before the end of this month. These tracts are located in close proximity to Fall Creek Falls State Park, providing a regional corridor for wildlife.  

    The easement protects a reach of Piney Creek and associated tributaries. Piney Creek is a major tributary for Cane Creek, which flows into Fall Creek Falls State Park.  

    The majority of the site is forested and dominated by oaks with white oak appearing to be the most dominant tree, followed by red, black and occasionally southern red oaks. As these oak trees mature, they begin to produce mast acorns that provide winter food important for survival.

    A population of worthy shield lichen was found within the easement. Although this species is not on the Tennessee list of rare species, it has Federal status as a Federal Species of Concern.

    A short list of plant species was compiled during the field survey. A total of 121 species were recorded. The list includes 26 species of trees, 23 species of shrubs and vines, 57 herbaceous species and 15 non-vascular species.


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Foothills Land Conservancy
373 Ellis Avenue
Maryville, Tennessee 37804
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