Addition of “Lone Star” Property will Extend and Enhance Cumberland Trail.
TennGreen and The Conservation Fund (the Fund) are working together to raise funds to assist with the purchase of 6,650 acres of land known as “Lone Star” for an addition to the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park (“Cumberland Trail”).
For more than a decade, the State of Tennessee has been working to acquire this Cumberland County property, which will protect:
We now have a one-time opportunity to acquire this critical land.
Lone Star has been impacted by years of large-scale timber harvesting and mineral extraction, making this acquisition vital to secure stream quality, restore habitat, and protect its natural landscapes for present and future generations to enjoy.
At the State's request, the Fund has negotiated to purchase the property and mineral rights from the landowners following a joint fundraising effort with TennGreen. Once the land and rights have been acquired, the Fund will transfer them to the State and a key portion of the property will be managed by Tennessee State Parks and will provide an opportunity to relocate a significant portion of the Cumberland Trail.
Every gift to this project will reduce the State’s hefty acquisition costs (including due diligence and closing expenses), saving critical conservation dollars for future land projects benefiting people and wildlife in Tennessee.
Every contribution to this effort is greatly appreciated.
Why It Matters
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 the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and Tennessee Division of Forestry. The CT connects two national parks, passes through a National Wild & Scenic River area, and it’s 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 it has connections to trails running west into Michigan ("Cumberland Trails Conference", 2019).
Once completed, this popular trail corridor will span more than 300 miles, offering many opportunities to view unique waterfalls, diverse plants and wildlife, deep gorges, and scenic landscapes along or near the eastern edge of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau.
Right now, there’s a significant gap in the trail, between Keyes-Harrison Wildlife Management Area (WMA)/Catoosa WMA and Ozone Falls SNA. This gap 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, with many affected by climate change.
By acquiring Lone Star, the State can fill this gap and reroute the existing trail to create a safer, eight-mile pathway for people and wildlife.
For many years, the Lone Star landowners conducted large-scale timber harvesting on the property, impacting the area’s natural beauty, its opportunities for recreation, and its suitable habitat for wildlife and plants. Currently, mining efforts (sandstone extraction) are taking place on portions of the land, posing an active threat to the water quality of its streams and the watersheds they flow into.
If Lone Star was acquired by a private individual, this important trail access corridor could remain unavailable to the public and remain vulnerable to the continued harvest and extraction of its vital natural resources.
With your help, the State can acquire this land and protect it from both unfavorable scenarios.
Once Lone Star and its mineral rights are under the State's management, a key portion of the property will be accessible for public enjoyment and its abundant forests, streams, and wildlife habitat can 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).
The forest system present on the property is Allegheny-Cumberland Dry Oak Forest and Woodland, including oak, southern red oak, chestnut oak, scarlet oak and black oak, with lesser amounts of red maple, pignut hickory, mockernut hickory, and sometimes sprouts of American chestnut. This forest system is identified by TWRA in the State Wildlife Action Plan (TN SWAP) as majority high priority with some areas of medium and low priority for Species of Greatest Conservation Need (TNC, Wisby and Palmer, 2015).
Protection of Lone Star’s forested areas will not only preserve important habitat for our terrestrial species, but also ensure the long-term habitat quality of Daddy’s Creek downstream by preserving water temperature, food resources, and cover necessary for our aquatic species.
Note: TennGreen and the Fund hope to host a biological inventory in late 2019 to document the rare or endangered species found at Lone Star.
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, the acquisition of Lone Star is imperative to secure 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/
Wisby, J.P. and S.R. Palmer. 2015. Database Development and Spatial Analyses in Support of Tennessee's State Wildlife Action Plan. The Nature Conservancy, Nashville, TN.