Ed Carter Unit of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area will be permanently protected

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The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) announced that the 43,000-acre Ed Carter Unit of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will be permanently protected after the sale of a conservation easement associated with the property. The easement, located in an area known as Ataya and as Tackett Creek, will also protect 179 miles of streams and provides habitat for the Tennessee elk herd, which attracts thousands of visitors each year for sport and wildlife watching.

A conservation easement restricts certain land uses to protect specific conservation values on a property while it remains in private ownership and generates local property tax revenue. A land trust or government agency, in this case TWRA, holds and enforces the easement, which is legally binding in perpetuity regardless of whether the property is sold or passed to heirs.

In addition to limiting development on the Ed Carter Unit of the North Cumberland WMA, the terms of this easement allow TWRA to manage wildlife habitats and public recreation access, including multi-use trails.

“Purchase of this easement is a major accomplishment for habitat conservation and public recreation,” says Tim Churchill, TWRA’s chief of federal aid and real estate. “Protecting the resources at the Ed Carter Unit has been considered one of our agency’s highest priorities for several decades.”

After transfer of the easement, TNC will continue to oversee daily operations as part of its Cumberland Forest project, an impact investment project that manages this property as well as an additional 200,000+-acre network of high conservation value lands and waters located along the Tennessee-Kentucky border and in a portion of Southwest Virginia.

“Over the next decade, our primary goal is to manage these lands as working forests, space for people to play, and permanently protected, critical habitats for our region’s game and non-game species,” says Terry Cook, TNC’s Tennessee state director. “This transaction advances that goal—a win for forests, water, wildlife and people.”

To help fund the transaction, TNC secured a $620,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Acres for America conservation program to augment state funds dedicated to purchasing the easement. The Cumberland Forest project is also pursuing opportunities to generate revenue through sustainable forestry, the sale of leases and licenses for hunting and fishing, participation in the carbon marketplace, and transforming former mining operations into sites for solar and other forms of renewable energy.

The Ed Carter Unit of the North Cumberland WMA is located in the heart of the Central Appalachian Mountains, a globally significant, connected and resilient temperate hardwood forest representing the single most critical landscape east of the Mississippi for climate resiliency and ecological services (clean water, clean air, carbon storage) benefiting tens of millions of people. In 2021, TNC identified the Appalachian Mountains as one of the most globally significant landscapes key to pursuing the dual goals of slowing the pace of climate change and protecting 30 percent of the planet’s biodiversity by 2030.

About The Nature Conservancy: The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, TNC works with a variety of partners to create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. This includes tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably, and helping make cities more sustainable. TNC has been working in Tennessee since 1978 and has conserved more than 400,000 acres across the state.

About Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The mission of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is to preserve, conserve, manage, protect, and enhance the fish and wildlife of the state and their habitats for the use, benefit, and enjoyment of the citizens of Tennessee and its visitors. TWRA has come a long way since it was established in 1949 and was called the Game and Fish Commission. Completely reorganized in 1974, it now consists of more than 700 professionals dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of Tennessee's fish and wildlife for the enjoyment of all Tennesseans and our visitors.

--Note: The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.

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