Addition of “Lone Star” Property will Extend and Enhance Cumberland Trail.
For nearly 15 years, the State of Tennessee and partners have been working to acquire over 6,650 acres of land known as “Lone Star." The purchase of this land in Cumberland County protects a key segment along the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park (the “Cumberland Trail”), essential habitat for wildlife and plants, and over 22 miles of streams that flow into three watersheds and form the headwaters of Fall Creek (Ozone Falls).
For many years, large-scale timber harvesting and mineral extraction were conducted at Lone Star, making its acquisition vital to secure stream quality, restore habitat, and protect its natural landscapes for present and future generations to enjoy.
By spearheading a private fundraising effort, TennGreen assisted with The Conservation Fund (the Fund)’s purchase of Lone Star and its mineral rights, as well as the mineral rights of nearby land already owned by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). Once the Fund transfers the property and rights to the State, a key portion of the land will be managed by Tennessee State Parks as an expansion to the Cumberland Trail.
The Cumberland Trail
The Cumberland Trail (CT) is an ambitious hiking trail project that began in the 1970s, designed for hikers by hikers as a sustainable single file backcountry-hiking trail. The trail was designated as the
Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail State Park in 1998, making it Tennessee’s first linear state park.
Currently, the CT is Tennessee’s second-largest state park, passing through eleven counties and two time zones on public lands managed by State agencies, including TDEC, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and the Tennessee Division of Forestry. The CT connects two national parks, passes through a National Wild & Scenic River area, and is a major component of the Great Eastern Trail—a 1,600-mile route that runs along the Appalachian Mountains, east of the more famous Appalachian Trail. The Great Eastern Trail runs from Florida to New York and connects to trails running west into Michigan (“Cumberland Trails Conference”, 2019).
Once completed, the CT will span more than 300 miles, offering day and thru-hikers opportunities to view unique waterfalls, diverse plants and wildlife, deep gorges, and other scenic landscapes along or near the eastern edge of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau.
The Lone Star Addition
Currently, there’s a significant gap in the CT between Keyes-Harrison Wildlife Management Area (WMA)/Catoosa WMA and Ozone Falls State Natural Area (SNA). This interruption requires hikers to walk for six miles on Hebbertsburg Road, a paved road in Crab Orchard, Tennessee, to reach the next portion of the trail. It also disrupts the important wildlife corridor that is needed by many species to migrate and survive.
By acquiring Lone Star, the State can fill this gap and reroute the existing trail to create a safer pathway for people and wildlife. A new eight-mile hiking route will be accessible for public enjoyment, and the property’s abundant forests, streams, and wildlife habitat will finally be restored.
For people and nature to thrive, habitats need to be protected, enhanced, and restored. Our forests and the lands along streams on the Cumberland Plateau are important to safeguard because they provide areas of quality habitat that support a wide range of wildlife and plant species. Although extensive biological inventories haven’t taken place on Lone Star itself, 13 rare species have been documented within one mile of this rugged and forested landscape. These documented species include:
Bachman’s Sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis) - state endangered
Barrens Silky Aster (Symphyotrichum pratense)
Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum)
Northern Pinesnake (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus) - state threatened
Roundleaf Shadbush (Amelanchier sanguinea)
Allegheny Woodrat (Neotoma magister) - deemed in need of management
Black Mountain Salamander (Desmognathus welteri)
Tangerine Darter (Percina aurantiaca)
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) - special concern
Crested Vertigo (Vertigo pygmaea)
Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus)
Resupinate Bladderwort (Utricularia resupinate)
Sequatchie Slitmouth (Stenotrema edgarianum)
Conservation corridors are critical to maintaining species diversity, particularly during changing climates. They are the essential linkage areas that allow animals to move through an increasingly human-dominated landscape. When areas of land are broken up by human interference, flora and fauna population numbers become unstable and many animal and plant species become endangered. By re-connecting the fragments, the population fluctuations can decrease dramatically.
“Corridors (and increased landscape connectivity more generally) are the most frequently recommended conservation strategy to protect biodiversity as climate changes. As climate warms, plants and animals are moving to cooler places, either at higher latitudes or up mountains. Yet, their path to cooler places may be blocked by human-created barriers such as cities or fields. Where ranges need to shift, it is important to ensure that individual plants and animals are able to move through landscapes so they can make it to new climates that are now suitable, and corridors can provide a path to those new places” (“Corridors and Climate Change”, 2012).
Protection of Lone Star’s forested areas not only conserves important habitat for our terrestrial species, but also ensures the long-term habitat quality of Daddy’s Creek downstream by preserving water temperature, food resources, and cover necessary for our aquatic species.
Protecting the quality of our freshwater resources contributes to the future health and well-being of people, plants, and wildlife.
Lone Star has over 22 miles of freshwater streams that flow into three separate watersheds—Daddy’s Creek Lower, Daddy’s Creek Middle, and Piney Creek. In addition to providing frontage along Daddy’s Creek and essential habitat for aquatic species, like the rare Tangerine Darter, these streams include the headwaters to Fall Creek (Ozone Falls).
Since much of the property has been impacted by timber harvest and mineral extraction, this acquisition is imperative to protect the water quality of these important streams and watersheds.
The Conservation Fund is a national environmental nonprofit that works to balance environmental stewardship and sustainable economic development in communities across America. Since our founding in 1985, the Fund has protected over eight million acres nationwide, and over 318,000 acres in Tennessee alone.
Founded in 1998, TennGreen is the oldest accredited, statewide land conservancy in Tennessee. TennGreen’s mission is to conserve land where people and nature can thrive. TennGreen serves all Tennesseans, and through collaboration with members, private landowners, local municipalities, and state and federal agencies, the organization works to create parks, establish wildlife corridors, expand existing protected public lands, and enhance public recreation opportunities.
Corridors and Climate Change. 2012. Available from https://conservationcorridor.org/2012/05/corridors-and-climate-change/
Cumberland Trails Conference. 2019. Available from https://www.cumberlandtrail.org/