DRY CREEK HEADWATERS
Conservation success in the Mid-Cumberland Corridor of Scott’s Gulf expands public lands for recreation and protects wildlife habitat for future generations.
Dry Creek flows into a wild stretch of the Caney Fork River that frequently floods the river bottom at the gateway to Scott's Gulf. The Headwaters rise steeply up the gorge near Virgin Falls, overlooking the river bottom at the convergence of the Eastern Highland Rim and the Cumberland Plateau.
In early 2018, TennGreen collaborated with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and Open Space Institute (OSI) to acquire 582 acres of land adjacent to Lost Creek State Natural Area (SNA) and Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The conservation of this natural area will not only expand the two state-owned and managed lands, but also increase hiking access to Virgin Falls SNA and protect the many plant, fish, and wildlife species that depend on its habitat to thrive.
With the recent acquisition, TDEC and TWRA have coordinated a swap of land management, allowing TDEC to establish a new nine-mile trail to Virgin Falls from Lost Creek SNA. The new trail begins at Rylander Cascades and connects to the western boundary of the heavily traveled Virgin Falls trail. Along the way, hikers can experience beautiful views of the Dry Creek Headwaters property overlooking Big Bottom and the Caney Fork River, as well as across Wilson Ridge.
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.
Another key player in the acquisition was a major private donor, Dr. Stephen Stedman of Cookeville, who donated to the purchase in memory of his late wife, Barbara.
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.
The Lost Creek Falls to Virgin Falls trail is open to the public and can be accessed from either location. Rules and regulations apply, so if you are interested in camping on-site, please contact TDEC or TWRA directly.
A GENEROUS MEMORIAL
Barbara loved wild places with wildflowers and wild rivers. The beauty of natural landscapes and watercourses gave her joy throughout her life, furthering her desire to explore the features of our world. For a quarter of a century, she and I visited many sites on and near the Cumberland Plateau which is rich in river gorges, steep mountainsides, and a multitude of forest types. The Dry Creek property presents many of these features in a compact form.
This gift to TennGreen’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 the Dry Creek Headwaters and would have been pleased to be linked forever with it. – Dr. Stephen Stedman
Call our office today at (615) 329-4441 to learn more about memorial gifts!
“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. 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 TennGreen on their dogged determination to see this land protected.”
Peter Howell, Executive Vice President of OSI
“Thank you, TennGreen, for providing the ability to join what has been two “scenic oasis” into one beautiful Wilderness Recreation Area. 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 TennGreen remains the only non-blood relative mentioned in my will.“
Marvin Bullock, President of the Sparta White County Chamber of Commerce