Blackburn Fork WMA
In 2007, a 400+ acre tract astride Blackburn Fork State Scenic River in Jackson County was donated to TennGreen as a Tennessee treasure to be protected forever. TennGreen identifies several elements of this property as significant to our conservation work: its location on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River, its proximity to nearby protected land, the presence of an endangered species of butternut trees, the river’s designation by the National Park Service for its scenic, recreational, geological, and wildlife values (containing several rare and endangered species), and its proximity to development by out-of-state landowners. The river’s most significant geological, scenic, and recreational feature is Cummins Falls, which contains an overlook, a trail down to the falls, and a swimming hole. Anglers will also enjoy fishing for smallmouth bass as they wade the river or fish from rocky banks.
Our Conservation Story
This particular tract of the Blackburn Fork Scenic River came to the Foundation through the efforts of the Allen and Gretel Branton family, who came to the Jackson County area in 2002. Drawn by the region’s beauty and its resemblance to their native Arkansas, the family purchased multiple tracts of land in the vicinity of and adjacent to Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. The Brantons’ time in Wyoming helped familiarize them with the activities of land trusts working to save scenic areas around Jackson Hole, so they took to the internet to explore similar options for their Tennessee property. Their search led them to the Foundation.
In 2007, the Brantons donated a conservation easement of 414 acres along Blackburn Fork Scenic River. Then, in 2011, they also decided to donate their home and the 162 acres on which it rests to the Foundation in the wake of the decision to move back to Little Rock, Arkansas, to be closer to family. The smaller parcel is only about six miles downstream from Cummins Falls, and the Foundation envisions it as an eventual addition to the park with trails and a ranger station. The Foundation is very grateful to the Branton family for their generous contributions to and vision for land conservation and the protection of this important scenic river corridor.
Blackburn Fork also contains several rare and endangered species in need of protection, and its riverbanks serve as greenway corridors for wildlife conservation. Some of those species are the Cerulean Warbler and the Louisiana Waterthrush. Blackburn Fork is also a part of the Cumberland River watershed, which has been identified by the National Geographic Society as the most diverse temperate freshwater ecosystem in the world, with the greatest number of at-risk fish and mussel species in the freshwater regions of the United States. It has also been identified as a watershed hotspot by the Nature Conservancy.
Recreational activities along Blackburn Fork Scenic River include hiking and swimming at the river’s most well-known attraction—Cummins Falls State Park; anglers will also enjoy catching smallmouth bass by casting from the rocky banks or wading out into the shallow water.
636 Gentry School Lane
Cookeville, TN 38501
Lat: 36.319382, Long: -85.555047
From I-10, exit at Exit 286 and travel north on Willow Avenue/Tennessee 135 for 11 miles. Turn left on Zion Road and travel approximately 3.1 miles. Turn right on Langford Hill Road, then right on Gentry School Lane to its end at the subject property.