NASHVILLE, TN (Dec. 20, 2017) — With support from the Open Space Institute (OSI), the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation (TennGreen) announced the transfer of nearly 1,000 acres of land adjacent to Grassy Cove National Natural Landmark to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The property, home to a number of rare species, is also an example of highly resilient land on the Cumberland Plateau.
Despite initial interest of many real estate, timber, and mining companies in the property, the land was conserved after a $600,000 grant from OSI’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative and Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund allowed TennGreen to purchase the property in 2016. OSI supported the effort due to the property's climate-resiliency, meaning that it will provide long-term refuge for plants and animals, even in a changing climate.
“OSI is proud to have enabled the protection of the Grassy Cove property,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s Executive Vice President of Conservation Capital and Research Programs. “This property not only protects the viewshed of the Cumberland Trail, but will also protect critical lands for wildlife habitat and for humans as the climate changes. We applaud the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation for its commitment to protecting this important landscape and TDEC for its commitment to manage the land for wildlife and public enjoyment.”
OSI’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative and Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund are made possible with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Benwood Foundation and Merck Family Fund. These initiatives seek to build capacity of land trusts working to respond to climate change.
Grassy Cove is located on top of the Cumberland Plateau, the world’s longest hardwood-forested plateau and one of the most biologically-rich regions on Earth. Visible from outer space, Grassy Cove, located just north of the Sequatchie Valley, is the largest sinkhole in North America. Designated a National Natural Landmark (NNL) by the National Park Service in 1973, it is considered one of the nation’s best illustrations of karst landscape and is home to a number of rare species—including the federally-threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat.
The land, which will be managed by TDEC in perpetuity and added to the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, will provide outdoor enthusiasts with future recreational opportunities on two popular mountains that surround Grassy Cove, Bear Den and Brady Mountains. These attractions will range from dramatic bluffs and boulder fields, to eight caves including the scenic Lost Waterfall, Spouting Dome, and Bear Den Mountain Caves.