WHITE COUNTY, TN (Aug. 24, 2018)—Thanks to a grant from the Open Space Institute (OSI) to the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation (“TennGreen”), two natural areas in central Tennessee are now more than 650 acres larger. Situated atop the Southern Cumberland Plateau, the newly-protected properties support biodiverse habitat that will remain a haven for sensitive plants and animals, even as the climate changes.
The 582-acre “Dry Creek Headwaters” and the 76-acre “Dog Cove Addition” properties are approximately three miles apart and just under a two-hour drive east of Nashville, Tennessee. The properties are now part of a wildlife corridor stretching about 60,000 acres — or approximately 22 miles. The properties increase available migratory habitat for rare species, including the federally endangered Indiana and gray bats.
Protection of the properties was possible thanks to grants from OSI’s Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund and Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund. The Funds are supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Benwood Foundation, and Merck Family Fund. Together they have protected more than 4,000 acres in the mid-Cumberlands, and more than 30,000 acres in the greater Southern Cumberland Plateau region.
“The highly resilient Dry Creek Headwaters property is an invaluable natural stronghold and will facilitate adaptation by wildlife and humans to climate change as the planets warms,” said Peter Howell, executive vice president at OSI. “OSI is proud to support projects on the Southern Cumberland Plateau that demonstrate the importance of land conservation in protecting wildlife refuges that will endure indefinitely. We congratulate the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation on their dogged determination to see this land protected.”
A Story Map produced by OSI, titled “Saving the Southern Cumberlands,” explores the importance of protecting the Southern Cumberland Plateau.
The Dry Creek Headwaters property is now a part of Virgin Falls State Natural Area (SNA), a celebrated hiking area on the western flank of the South Cumberland Plateau. The Dog Cove Addition property has been added to the 680-acre “Dog Cove” property conserved with OSI’s support in 2016.
Both the Dry Creek and Dog Cove Addition properties are also a part of Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee’s most visited state park.
Waters from the Dry Creek Headwaters property flows into a wild stretch of the Caney Fork River, which drains a substantial portion of the southwestern Cumberland Plateau. Runoff from the property frequently floods the river bottom at the gateway to the scenic Scott's Gulf canyon, home to a number of celebrated hiking trails.
Steve Law, director of the, or TennGreen, said the latest 600-plus acres of land acquired represents “a significant conservation achievement” that will help enhance and protect Caney Fork water quality in perpetuity.
The growing system of trails in the area is envisioned to one day connect the Virgin Falls State Natural Area with Fall Creek Falls, and in the process tie in Scott’s Gulf, Lost Creek, Bledsoe State Forest, Bee Creek and the Boy Scout’s Latimer High Adventure Reservation.