FRANKLIN COUNTY, Tenn. (Dec. 20, 2021) — The Open Space Institute (OSI) and The Conservation Fund (TCF) today announced the addition of approximately 1,100 acres to the Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in southcentral Tennessee. The newly protected land connects two sections of the WMA while expanding precious habitat for wildlife.
The forested Corum property, which was protected by TCF with the support of OSI, contains unique and rugged karst geology that can support high biodiversity. The land provides suitable habitat for eight bat species federally designated as "Greatest Conservation Need," as well as several federally listed plant species -- including Price's Potato Bean and Moorefield's Leather-flower.
OSI supported protection of the Corum property through its Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund. Through five separate OSI-supported projects, approximately 11,000 acres around Bear Hollow Mountain WMA have been conserved.
"OSI is proud to have supported this astounding conservation success for Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area, and for the people of Tennessee," said Joel Houser, OSI's Southeast Field Coordinator. "This land will remain viable habitat for biodiversity, even as the climate changes. We salute The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, for their tireless efforts on behalf of Tennessee's natural places.”
OSI’s Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund was made possible with funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation, Benwood Foundation, and Merck Family Fund, which seek to protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity in landscapes that are critical to facilitating adaptation to climate change. The Corum property marks the 19th property conserved by OSI atop the Southern Cumberland Plateau, totaling some 33,500 acres.
“Connectivity of protected landscapes like this one are essential for forest health, habitats, and climate resiliency,” said Ralph Knoll, The Conservation Fund’s Tennessee State Director. “We’re thrilled to see this acquisition of Corum complete, as it builds off of decades of conservation work that we’re completing across Tennessee in partnership with TWRA, OSI, TNC and Tennessee’s Congressional delegation.”
In addition to OSI and The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee (TNC) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) also supported protection of the land. TWRA’s acquisition was enabled by the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has also received critical support from OSI. Tennessee’s U.S. Congressional delegation representing Franklin County includes U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty, and U.S. Representative Scott DesJarlais.
The approximately 17,000-acre Bear Hollow Mountain WMA has extensive second growth hardwood forests. Some of the ridgetops have been cleared for the restoration of native warm grasses, which in combination with the hardwood forests provide excellent habitat for Neotropical migratory songbirds. There are developed hiking trails, and the area is popular for wildlife viewing and hunting.
One of the most beautiful and untouched places in the Southeast, the Southern Cumberland Plateau is also severely threatened by quick-sprouting subdivisions and massive property sell-offs. Only 10 percent of the remarkable landscape is protected. OSI spotlighted the effort to safeguard the Southern Cumberland Plateau in-depth in its award-winning 2019 Story Map, Saving the Southern Cumberlands.
'Saving the Southern Cumberlands' Story Map
One of the most beautiful and untouched places in the Southeast, the Southern Cumberland Plateau is also severely threatened by quick-sprouting subdivisions and massive property sell-offs. With only 10 percent of the remarkable landscape is protected, OSI's award-winning 2019 Story Map tells the story of the land and the conservationists working to save it - before it's too late.