Published on : Monday, April 22, 2019
The Nature Conservancy has acquired 100,000 acres of Cumberland Forest Mountains. The massive area covers 156 square miles, scattered across northern Tennessee (Claiborne and Campbell counties) and southern Kentucky (Bell, Knox and Leslie counties).
It will link the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area in Tennessee and the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and the Kentucky Ridge State Forest in Kentucky.
Terry Cook, who is now the TNC Tennessee state director and conservation leader, announced the acquisition – the largest in Tennessee’s 41-year history.
It’s a happy coincidence that the group was able to announce the deal on Earth Day.
Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist on the TNC board of directors said: “This is one of the largest conservation projects in the Tennessee chapter’s history and a truly phenomenal accomplishment”.
The group also will work with local communities to support economic development opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism, among other things.
The Cumberland Mountains, like the Smokies, are especially crucial because the varying elevations and topography provide habitat diversity for birds and dozens of mammals.
TNC’s ownership of Cumberland Forest Mountains also will help secure clean water for people in southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee and protect the wildlife in the area. At the neighboring Cumberland Gap Park there is an array of wildlife: 33 mammals, 89 birds, 29 amphibians, 15 reptiles, 27 fish and 178 insects.
It would boost wildlife tourism.