Read below to learn more about this conservation success that protects forested wildlife habitat in Sewanee, TN. 

While standing among the ferns in Mitchell Cove, it is easy to imagine generations of people and wildlife finding refuge amid the towering trees. This unique natural area, with its lush forests and peaceful streams, has a rare and rich history that echoes across its ageless bluffs. Thanks to your generosity and outstanding support from Lyndhurst Foundation, The Tucker Foundation, and many individuals, the natural wonders of these wild lands will remain forever undeveloped, safeguarded from the threats of our rapidly changing world. 


Only in Tennessee can you find such scenic and tranquil beauty within a mile of Interstate 24. Located near Sewanee on the South Cumberland Plateau, Mitchell Cove is a rare gem that offers a stark contrast to the busy noises and fast pace of modern life. Its breathtaking bluff views and mighty forests, that are home to so many of our plants, fish, and wildlife, are every development and timber company’s dream. 


Throughout 2017 and 2018, your generosity has supported the collaborative efforts of TennGreen, South Cumberland Regional Land Trust (SCRLT), and Jumpoff Community Land Trust to protect 1,001 acres of Mitchell Cove with a conservation easement. This easement nears completion as the year draws to a close and, once finalized, it will ensure that these irreplaceable lands remain forever wild.


This easement will protect:

  • Wooded habitat for rare species and wildlife 

  • More than four miles of important land along streams

  • More than two miles of scenic bluffs overlooking Mitchell Cove


In an era of warming climates, it is essential to protect large, densely-forested habitats with dramatic geographic features—such as the valleys and vistas found surrounding Sewanee—to offer wildlife a refuge where they can survive and thrive. 


Also of high conservation importance, the property contains one of the best examples of Native American rock art in Tennessee: red pictographs created by the ancestors of the Native Americans, perhaps as early as 1,000 years ago. These renderings appear to reflect prehistoric beliefs about the universe and its transformational character and structure. Its arrangement on the landscape may reflect the cosmos, with red paintings of celestial characters in elevated areas close to the sky, and black images at lower elevations in the dark reaches of the caves. Rock art tangibly transformed the world of nature into the world of the spirits and conserving the pristine lands surrounding these caves preserves an important part of our shared human history.


Thank you for supporting one of our most unique partnerships to date. There is still much work left to do but, together, we are one step closer to protecting our natural world for this and future generations. ​​

For more information on TennGreen easements, click here or call us at (615) 329-4441.

To view photos from the Mitchell Cove Land Dedication, click here now. 

Protecting a "Forever Wild" Landscape

South Cumberland Regional Land Trust

In 1990, a remarkable woman named Gale Link owned 1,100 acres of bountiful forests, mountains, and streams on the South Cumberland Plateau. Her property, which is now referred to as “Mitchell Cove”, could have fetched a high sum from any ambitious developer looking to make a quick buck. Thankfully, Gale had a vision to share the property with a dynamic group of people who promised to steward the land and keep it “forever wild.” They formed the Jumpoff Community Land Trust, purchased the land from Gale, and have maintained and protected it for over 25 years.


Forming the first land trust in the region, this group, along with alumni of the University of the South and other interested conservation minded individuals, established the South Cumberland Regional Land Trust (SCRLT)—a volunteer board who also saw the value in preserving the ecological integrity of the land and shared the mission of conservation.


Today, we have reached the final step in making Gale’s dream of protecting her land permanent, thanks to the generosity of dozens of donors and the dedicated efforts of TennGreen. It’s hard to overstate the dedication of the TennGreen staff to this project over the past year. They made their first visits to Mitchell Cove in 2017 and have since returned numerous times to guide us through the conservation easement process. From writing grant requests and leading our fundraising campaign, to gathering survey bids, answering our questions, and drafting all of the paperwork needed to see this project through, they have led us with a wonderful spirit of positivity, perseverance, and professionalism.


Since the SCRLT board is made up of volunteers with limited resources, time, and experience, the help of TennGreen was crucial to our success in safeguarding these wild lands from development. In the end, we met our fundraising goal and are nearing the finalization of the conservation easement—an outcome that we could have only dreamed about just a few years ago.


While Gale Link is, sadly, no longer with us, the SCRLT rejoices in the fact that we are making her dream of a “forever wild” property a reality. The board of the SCRLT is tremendously thankful to everyone who helped bring this project to fruition, especially the TennGreen staff and the many who donated money to help us achieve this goal.