TennGreen and partners make gains in Scott’s Gulf
By Kim Swindell Wood | June 23, 2018 1:48 pm
Conservation success in the Mid-Cumberland Corridor of Scott’s Gulf expands public lands for recreation and protects wildlife habitat for future generations
Today the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation, in partnership with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, announced the perpetual protection of Dry Creek Headwaters—a 582-acre property in the Mid-Cumberland Wilderness Conservation Corridor of Scott’s Gulf.
Acquisition of the tract allows TDEC and TWRA to trade management of the lands between Lost Creek State Natural Area and Virgin Falls State Natural Area, offering a promising location for a hiking trail to connect the two iconic destinations.
“Linking Lost Creek and Virgin Falls has long been a goal for Tennessee State Parks to provide more recreational opportunities for visitors and protect more critical habitat,” said Brock Hill, Deputy Commissioner of TDEC. “We’re grateful to all of the partners who made this goal a reality for generations of outdoor enthusiasts.”
TennGreen recently purchased and transferred the land to the State of Tennessee at the request of TDEC and TWRA. Now under State ownership, the southern portion of the property will be managed by TWRA as an addition to Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the northern portion will be managed by TDEC as an addition to Lost Creek.
“Thank you, Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation, for providing the ability to join what has been two “scenic oasis” into one beautiful Wilderness Recreation Area,” said Marvin Bullock, President of the Sparta Chamber of Commerce. “In the past, day-visitors have had to choose either/or. Either they were going to visit Lost Creek State Natural Area or Virgin Falls. With the Dry Creek acquisition, visitors will be able to thru-hike both pristine waterfalls. This corridor provides an opportunity for Sparta and White County to benefit from a thru-trail that will rival many state parks. This is one more example of why Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation remains the only non-blood relative mentioned in my will.“
The Dry Creek Headwaters project was supported by grants from the Open Space Institute’s (OSI) Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund and Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund. The Funds, capitalized by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Benwood Foundation, and Merck Family Fund, 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 of OSI. “OSI is proud to support projects on the Southern Cumberland Plateau that demonstrate the importance of land conservation in protecting places that will endure indefinitely. We congratulate the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation on their dogged determination to see this land protected.”
Another key player in the acquisition was major private donor, Dr. Steve Stedman, of Cookeville, who donated to the purchase in memory of his late wife, Barbara.
“Barbara loved wild places with wildflowers and wild rivers,” said Dr. Stedman. “The beauty of natural landscapes and watercourses gave her joy throughout her life, furthering her desire to explore the features of our world. This gift to the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation’s effort to conserve the Dry Creek property in perpetuity is made partly as a memorial to Barbara but is mainly intended to make it possible for those who come after us to enjoy this wild place. I know that Barbara would have loved the natural beauty of Dry Creek Headwaters and would have been pleased to be linked forever with it.”
This collaborative acquisition is one of many between TennGreen, TDEC, and TWRA in the Mid-Cumberland Wilderness Conservation Corridor. Comprised of natural and scenic wonders, the 55,000-acre corridor links Virgin Falls, Scott’s Gulf, and Fall Creek Falls State Park to Bledsoe State Forest and the Boy Scout’s Latimer High Adventure Reservation.
In addition to the Dry Creek Headwaters expansion, TennGreen continues to make significant progress in the region, having recently announced transfer of 76 acres at Interior Dog Cove to TDEC for an addition to Dog Cove. Nita Whitfield, of Cookeville, provided TennGreen with a generous donation to help TDEC purchase the Interior Dog Cove tract.