Whites Piney Joel Houser

OSI Support Leads to Protection of Key Acreage Along Tennessee’s Whites and Piney Creek Gorge

CHATTANOOGA, TN (April 27, 2020) — Building on its land protection work atop the Southern Cumberland Plateau, the Open Space Institute (OSI) is announcing the protection of its latest property within the region. The land, conserved by TennGreen Land Conservancy with OSI’s support, will protect wildlife habitat around a stunning gorge atop the Plateau.

TennGreen was able to secure a conservation easement on the 550-acre “Whites and Piney Creek Gorge” property with funding from OSI’s Resilient Landscape Initiative and Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund, and thanks to the generosity of the property’s landowners, Annie and Steve Scarborough. This easement, located along a gorge surrounding Whites and Piney creeks, forever protects the creeks and the surrounding hemlock-rich woods.

The property marks the 24th property conserved by OSI atop the Southern Cumberland Plateau, totaling some 37,000 acres.

“In a landscape known for its unmatched biodiversity and natural resources, this property stands out as one of the best of the best. OSI is proud to have helped make this project happen and salute the incredible generosity of the Scarboroughs, as well as the hard work and dedication of TennGreen,” said Joel Houser, OSI’s Southeast Field Coordinator.

OSI's 'Saving the Southern Cumberlands' Story Map

A flat-topped mountain that once was the bed of an ancient ocean floor, the Southern Cumberland Plateau today supports some of the most geologically unique habitat in North America — yet only 10 percent of the Plateau is protected. OSI is busy saving the land, before it is too late.

View Story Map

The easement completed on the Whites and Piney Creek Gorge property conserves approximately 7.5 miles of land along area streams, including Blue Branch, Camp Branch, Otter Creek, Piney Creek, and Whites Creek. Both Whites Creek and Piney Creek have been identified as possessing Natural and Scenic Qualities of statewide significance, according to the Tennessee Rivers Assessment Project.

Whites Creek hosts a variety of beautiful fish and wildlife, including the rare Tangerine Darter (Percina aurantiaca), which are found in clear headwater tributaries of the Tennessee River. Male Tangerine Darters have been described as one of the most colorful freshwater fish in the United States due to their bright orange and red colors during their breeding season.

In addition to immense habitat conservation benefits, protection of this land along Whites Creek helps ensure that the view along the creek remains natural. The portion of Whites Creek that flows along the property has been rated as a Class III Whitewater stream, and Whitewater paddlers have long enjoyed the scenic beauty and difficulty of running its waters.

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