The staff at the Foothills Land Conservancy needs your help! Every year we cover thousands of acres across 23 counties here in Tennessee. This includes visits to new projects and also the monitoring of over 115 conservation easement properties. That’s a lot of ground! So, we have started a ‘Save Our Dogs’ campaign. Our goal is to reach $10,000 worth of donations to fund an all terrain vehicle and related costs. This much needed piece of equipment ensures that we can continue to expand our conservation efforts and preserve more land. We hope that you will view our 30 second video or the longer version that allows staff to truly highlight our acting skills.
To make a donation through PayPal, click here
A very special thank you to the amazing Heartlands Series videographer, Doug Mills, for his directing, producing and editing assistance. A shout out also goes to Heartland Series host and East Tennessee legend, Bill Landry, for his ideas and narration. We couldn’t have done this project without them! For updates on the campaign’s success, visit this page or like us on Facebook!
Thank you! - The Foothills Team
Are you curious about the many benefits of planting native trees and shrubs in your community or backyard? Then join FLC and our technical experts for a presentation on Thursday, November 6, at 6pm in the upstairs conference room of the Blount Memorial Wellness Center in Alcoa. The focus of the presentation will be to highlight FLC’s 2014 spring planting projects along with the many benefits, tips and resources associated with taking a native approach to landscaping. This event is free and open to the public and reservations are not required.
Last year, Foothills Land Conservancy received a $5000 grant, made possible by the American Forests and Alcoa Foundation’s Partnership for Trees initiative. The Partnership for Trees Program is part of Alcoa Foundation’s commitment to plant 10 million trees by 2020, with nearly 700,000 trees planted to date. FLC’s focus for the grant was to work with local partners to plant close to 3200 native trees and shrubs at various sites in the East Tennessee region during the Spring of 2014. Planting areas centered on sites with stream bank erosion and/or locations where the addition of native bio-diversity will increase wildlife diversity while also enhancing view sheds. Sites were qualified by designated technical advisors and will be managed and monitored with their help.
Along with FLC staff and the grant’s technical advisors, both Knox and Blount County Alcoa Inc. employees volunteered their time to assist at two planting sites – The Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area and Kyker Bottoms Refuge. These sites are managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Other planting sites included the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge (now called the Seven Islands State Birding Park), TVA public hunting sites in Rhea, Meigs, and Hamilton counties, and private lands where restoration efforts were ongoing and additional plantings would be beneficial.
FLC’s technical advisors for the grant and next week’s presenters are:
Bill Smith – Mr. Smith is the Wildlife Manager for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (Region 4 Office). He is a graduate from the University of Tennessee in Wildlife and Fisheries Science (1984). He was a wildlife officer for TWRA from 1985-1996. He was promoted to Wildlife Manager II 1996 and is currently the Wildlife Manager II over four wildlife management areas: Forks of the River WMA(Knox County) Kyker Bottoms Refuge, Whites Mill Refuge, and Foothills WMA all in Blount County.
Erich Henry – Mr. Henry serves as the Director of Conservation for the Blount County Soil Conservation District. He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and has completed specialized courses in forage and grassland management. Mr. Henry was named the 2007 Outstanding District Conservationist of the Year by the Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts and the Tennessee Valley Authority. He routinely provides technical assistance in conjunction with multiple grant funding pools for the improvement of natural resources within Blount County.
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About the Partnership for Trees Program: Alcoa Foundation and American Forests have joined together for the Partnership for Trees Program, a multi-year initiative to plant hundreds of thousands of native tree species on damaged and degraded sites around the world by engaging local communities in the restoration of forest ecosystems.This initiative, which commenced in 2011, builds toward Alcoa’s goal of planting 10 million trees by 2020 and supports American Forests’ mission to protect and restore forests. For a project to qualify for this program, Alcoa sites and employees work with qualified local nonprofit groups and agencies to develop and submit forest restoration proposals and then participate in the tree planting. To learn more click here.
About American Forests: American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. In the last two decades, American Forests has planted more than 44 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and in 44 countries, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at www.americanforests.org.
About Alcoa Foundation: Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately US$468 million. Since 1952, they’ve invested more than $590 million to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the Company’s signature Month of Service program, 62% percent of Alcoa employees volunteer with 700,000 hours donated in 2013. For more information, visit www.alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.
About Foothills Land Conservancy: FLC is dedicated to promoting, protecting and enhancing the lands and environments of the Southern Appalachian region and promoting the character of the land for the general public, now and in the future. FLC is a 501(c)(3) and does not receive any financial assistance from local, state or federal governments. They rely on individual and corporate contributions solely to sustain their organization, land acquisition and stewardship funds. In 2013, Foothills Land Conservancy celebrated the completion of 14 conservation easements totaling 11,271 acres – a ‘best ever’ record for the organization. To date, FLC now has a total of 47,000 acres preserved – projects that span 26 counties in Tennessee with one project in Wautauga County, North Carolina. The public should contact their office with any interest or questions at 865-681-8326 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about FLC, visit www.foothillsland.org.
Elise Eustace, Communication & Development Director
Foothills Land Conservancy
Office (865) 681-8326; Cell (865) 201-5806
Foothills Land Conservancy is pleased to announce that it is applying for accreditation in September 2013. After completing an extensive review and update of all policies, records, and practices, Foothills is ready for the extensive review and rigorous standards of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
“We’re excited to be going through the accreditation process. When the process is over with, we will be a stronger land trust, and we’ll have the proper policies and procedures in place to best serve landowners and the general public more efficiently,” said Executive Director Bill Clabough.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts and extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.
According to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission’s website, “The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation. It recognizes organizations for meeting national standards for excellence, upholding the public trust, and ensuring that conservation efforts are permanent.”
A public comment period is now open. The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Foothills complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards, see http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/tips-and-tools/indicator-practices.
To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to email@example.com. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 201, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Comments on Foothills’ application will be most useful if submitted before October 28, 2013.
This past fall FLC took a few employees with Strata-G, an environmental and consulting company in Knoxville, on a tour to one of our many remarkable conservation easement properties. With 106 of these partnerships covering 21 counties deciding which one to tour can be difficult! We decided to highlight Hartman’s property in Roane County and what a tour it was. Many thanks Dick Conley and the all- terrain vehicle, known as ‘Monster Truck’, for the transportation and the wind in our hair! (Periodically, FLC does provide tours like this one to groups or individuals, so please contact us with any interest at 865-681-8326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Back in 2008 Mr. Gene Hartman, and his wife Becky, partnered with FLC on a conservation easement covering 920 acres of their farm in Roane County. Mr. Hartman is an ongoing Foothills supporter and his company, Duo Fast of Knoxville, has been an annual sponsor of FLC’s Celebration for many years. Several times a year, Mr. Hartman offers up his property for various conservation fundraisers and for use by disadvantaged youth, providing them with camping, fishing and other hunting activities.
FLC Board Member, Dick Conley, is the Land Manager for Hartman’s farm and provided the tour. He kicked things off with an aerial photo and brief history of the property. FLC’s Land Director, Meredith Clebsch, explained the data gathering and photo collecting that goes into the annual monitoring of these easements. Mr. Conley spent 39 years with TWRA as a wildlife habitat biologist, his specific areas of expertise is in restoring native warm season grasses and soil building legumes. A major interest of Conley’s is also helping to develop and monitor quail habitat.
Prior to the property’s current use as a commercial hunting preserve, it once housed a cattle farm, dairy operation and pasture lands. Close to 700 of the acres are in open fields with 300 in woodlands. Since the early 90’s Mr. Conley as helped to create a wildlife and native grass oasis amid neighboring cow pastures. Here are just a few of the projects that he has worked on over the years and in recent months:
Native warm season grasses were converted from fields of fescue, sericea lespedeza, and bermudagrass to grasses like big bluestem, little bluestem and indiangrass. Since 1999, 400 acres have been converted to warm season grasses.
Planting native grasses assist in providing habitat needed for wildlife . The root systems of these grasses aids in soil structure and water infiltration. Mr. Conley is always exploring what grass works best with the conditions on the property and he has seen an increase in wildlife species, like quail and rabbits, as a result of the plantings.
Controlled burns are conducted on half of the grass fields annually in a checkerboard type pattern. This ensures that there is always food and habitat for wildlife on the property.
Conley has removed hedgerows that contained privet and replaced them with wildlife loving shrubs such as American beautyberry, hazelnut and persimmon trees.
A few years ago 50 acres of the property were planted in switchgrass, primarily as part of UT’s biofuel switchgrass program. This contract has expired so plans are in the works to manage the current fields from ‘maximum yield’ to ‘wildlife benefit’, reducing the stand density to about 1 plant per 6 square feet.
There are 13 man-made ponds on the property that are spring fed. They are designed for the purpose of benefiting fish and wildlife. 2 waterfowl areas have been created with the planting of several grains such as corn, Japanese millet and grain sorghum.
Quail habitat is an indicator of a large, diverse habitat that benefits many other species like song birds and butterflies. Quail require 4 different habitats within a 40 acre area – brooding/nesting, escape, feeding, and cover. Outside temperature humidity levels also need to be between 20-30% when the hen sits on a clutch of eggs or the heat kills the eggs. Predators such as possums, skunks and raccoon are also a constant threat to the vulnerable quail eggs.
Did you know Dick Conley is also a Consultant Wildlife Habitat Biologist for Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge? In the coming weeks, FLC will also post entries about current projects at Seven Islands by Dick Conley, the folks at TWRA and the Refuge’s Land Director, Nora Hassell. Stay tuned…
News Release (March 2013) – FLC Applauds Renewal of Conservation Tax Incentive
FLC Celebrates Another Record Setting Conservation Year!
Maryville, TN – It’s been another banner year for Foothills Land Conservancy. In December of 2012, FLC completed 12 conservation easement projects totaling 6625 acres – surpassing last year’s acreage number of 4400. To date, FLC has a total of 36,000 acres preserved. The total number of conservation easement agreements stands at 105, covering 21 counties! Here are the easement descriptions, primarily grouped by county:
FLC’s 100th Easement ● Jarvis Property – 62 acres
Dr. Craig Jarvis helped FLC celebrate mark the organization’s 100th conservation easement agreement Friday by signing his second easement with Foothills to mark the occasion! FLC also has another reason to celebrate. Dr. Jarvis will be a returning Board Member in 2013. He has been associated with FLC since it started and has served intermittently on the Board throughout the years.
December’s signing will protect a 2nd property, which is in Blount County. The 62 acre tract is 50% wooded with most of the remainder in hay fields. The property is very close to Chilhowee Mountain and the 11,000 acre Foothills Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a vital buffer between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the developed areas outside the Park’s perimeter. Other natural areas in the vicinity include the 350 acre Kyker Bottoms WMA and the 8000 acre Tellico WMA3. The proximity of the Jarvis property to these areas adds a safe buffer habitat for maintaining healthy populations of resident and migratory wildlife species and as a reservoir of native plant species.
For Dr. Jarvis, the timing was right for the second easement, “we didn’t want it to change and we felt like because of that it was time to go ahead and give the easement on it also – so that we know from this moment on it won’t change.”
Back in 2007, Jarvis permanently preserved close to 478 acres in Monroe County. Located in the wooded foothills of the Unicoi Mountains, the majority of the acreage from the first easement is forested with 2nd and 3rd growth oak, hickory and pine. Views from the west side of that tract offer sites of Starr Mountain and the Cherokee National Forest.
Cline Property (56 acres) Also celebrating their second conservation easement with Foothills are Drs. Richard & Kim Cline. Back in 2008, the Cline’s put close to 220 acres in an easement with FLC. 120 acres of that tract are woodlands that consist primarily of 100-150 year old oak and hickory trees. The remainder is in pasture and crop land.
Both practicing physicians, the Cline’s wanted to continue to protect their land from development emerging in the area by placing a second easement on an adjoining 56 acre tract. Portions of Loudon County that include Tellico Village and Lenoir City are becoming quite popular. The Cline’s property sits on an area that is subject to development due to its proximity to Highway 321. The property also lies close to three Tennessee Valley Authority reservoirs: Fort Loudon Lake, Watts Bar Reservoir on the Tennessee River, and the Tellico Reservoir on the Little Tennessee River.
About 2/3 of the second tract is currently in hay fields with at least two wildlife plots under current cultivation. The forested sections contain both evergreen and deciduous trees.
The Dry Creek conservation easement is located in Warren County. The 433 acre tract is south of the town of McMinnville and within 20 miles of Fall Creek Falls State Park. The vast majority of the site is forested. Gently rolling plateau tops allow for scenic views. The easement will help to protect these high areas which provide part of the view shed for the valleys below.
Within 15 miles of the property, there are Several Class II Natural-Scientific State Natural Areas. Hubbard’s Cave, considered by the Nature Conservancy as a “foremost cave preserve” (nature.org), is found within 4 miles of the Property. This State Natural Area is comprised of the cave and 50 surrounding acres and is home to large populations of endangered gray bats and Indiana bats. Within 10 miles is the Savage Gulf Class II Natural-Scientific State Natural Area, part of South Cumberland State Park. Big Bone Cave, 15 miles from the Property, is a National Natural Landmark.
Myers Cove- 460 acres – The property, located southeast of McMinnville, TN, is situated within the southwest portion of the Cumberland Plateau. Within a short driving distance from the Warren County property there are numerous parks including: the northernmost portion of South Cumberland State Park, the 16,000 acres of Fall Creek Falls State Park and Rock Island State Park (which encompasses nearly 900 acres). The property’s location is also in close proximity to Cumberland Caverns, the fourth largest cave in the U.S.
This property is roughly 70% wooded with the remainder composed of fields in varying degrees of succession. Some of these fields consist primarily of native grasses; others are composed of a variety of grasses and forbs. Trees species include sourwood, tulip poplar, Virginia pine and shrub, dwarf sumac
The tract is drained by creeks that are part of the Collins River watershed. This watershed supports 28 known rare, threatened or endangered species of plants and animals, with 20 of these species known from within a four mile radius of the property. At least two year-round streams found on the property provide plentiful water to resident and migratory species. At this time these streams are minimally impacted by activities both on and off the property and so provide a high quality resource to the Collins River watershed area.
Van Buren County
The Goforth conservation easement, also situated in the Cumberland Plateau, is located in Van Buren County, Tennessee. The 395-acre tract is south of the town of Spencer and less than a mile from Fall Creek Falls. The property contains a creek, open fields and several groves of mature trees. The proximity of both these preserved properties to these natural areas adds to a regional wildlife corridor. Continuity is an important ecological concept for sustainable habitat for plant and animal species.
The 500 acre Harper Branch property is situated on the southwestern portion of the Cumberland Plateau (south of Spencer, Tennessee). Within a short driving distance from this property, lies the northernmost portion of South Cumberland State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park and Rock Island State Park.
Roughly 2/3 of the Harper Branch property is in early-successional grasses, forbs and shrubs with the remainder in mature loblolly pine plantation. Grasses such as Broomsedge, Rabbit Tobacco, Green Sawbriar, Dwarf Sumac, and Canada Goldenrod are prominent.
Adjacent to 1.5 miles of the Property’s southern boundary includes the more diverse habitat and culturally historic Trail of Tears (Northern Route), which is a narrow band of about 200’ wide of older growth timber in largely mixed hardwoods and some pines. The forb and sub-canopy layers on the Trail of Tears are fairly diverse in natives and together provide quality food sources, nesting and cover for many native wildlife and invertebrate species.
Headwaters for three streams that drain to the nearby Rocky River originate on the Property. The Harper Branch tract lies within the immediate watershed of the Rocky River which was classified in the Tennessee Department of Environment and
Conservation’s Tennessee Rivers Assessment Report of 1998 as being of regional significance. 24 rare aquatic species are noted within the watershed.
Cane Creek – 345 acres – The property is nearly 100% in woodland with about 75% in planted pine plantations and the remainder in mixed oak forest (within the drainages and riparian areas). The large areas of public lands in the region include the 20,000 acres of the Fall Creek Falls State Park and Natural Area which is less than one mile from the Property, and the Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness totaling almost 15,000 acres less than ten miles away.
As an almost completely forested landscape, the Cane Creek property functions as an especially important buffer to the adjacent conservation areas and is a critical component in the support of regional continuity and ecological viability of wildlife corridors between these vast protected public lands on the Cumberland Plateau, Cumberland Escarpment and Cumberland Mountains. The property is located within the Caney Fork River watershed and contains the source of the Whetstone Fork of Cane Creek, which then flows into nearby Fall Creek Falls State Park and supports Cane Creek Falls, a popular destination in the Park.
Currently a 60,000 acre wilderness corridor is envisioned by Conservationists who hope to link Scott’s Gulf to Bledsoe State Forest and Fall Creek Falls State Park. The Cane Creek Property would at lease serve as a buffer, and therefore conserving the property in its natural state would further the goal of establishing a vast, unbroken corridor.
Piney Cumberland (439 acres) -This easement adjoins another conservation tract of 464 acres, called Meadow Creek. These tracts are located in close proximity to Fall Creek Falls State Park, providing a regional corridor for wildlife.
The majority of the site is forested and dominated by oaks with white oak appearing to be the most dominant tree, followed by red, black and occasionally southern red oaks. As these oak trees mature, they begin to produce mast acorns that provide winter food important for survival.A population of worthy shield lichen was found within the easement. Although this species is not on the Tennessee list of rare species, it has Federal status as a Federal Species of Concern. A short list of plant species was compiled during the field survey. A total of 121 species were recorded. The list includes 26 species of trees, 23 species of shrubs and vines, 57 herbaceous species and 15 non-vascular species.
Van Buren & Bledsoe Counties
The Meadow Creek property adjoins the Piney Cumberland tract (439 acres). The majority of Meadow Creek’s 466 acres is forested and located in close proximity to Fall Creek Falls State park, providing a regional corridor for wildlife. The easement protects a reach of Piney Creek and associated tributaries. Piney Creek is a major tributary for Cane Creek, which flows into Fall Creek Falls State park. Numerous species of trees, shurbs, vines, plants (including non-vascular species) are found on the property.
Coffee & Grundy Counties
3 adjacent FLC conservation easements totaling 3469 acres in Coffee & Grundy Counties! Wild Boar – 1112 acres; Pull Tight – 1130 acres; Land South – 1227 acres
For Keith Thompson, the Manager of all three preserved tracts listed above, the idea to have large, permanently conserved acreage in the Cumberland wilderness surrounding a 100 acre camp and ministry is a dream come true. “Once we started to explore the property we found quail and duck habitat. We look forward to starting a timber/forestry management program. The former sand mines now house springs that stay full all the time and are full of fish. It’s perfect for fly fishing and even teaching someone how to flyfish! We hope to break ground on the ministry sometime in 2014.”
Roughly two thirds of all 3400 acres consist of mixed hardwoods, with one third consisting of lakes, open fields and a former sand mine. Throughout the three tracts ephemeral wetlands have been noted. Much of the perimeter of the property includes the cliffs and ledges of the Cumberland escarpment – offering up a diversity of wildlife, plants and habitat types. Several rare plants have been noted near or on the property including American smoke tree and Fameflower.
According to Meredith Clebsch, FLC’s Land Director, “the Cumberland Wilderness properties may be the most ecologically diverse easements FLC holds to date. The Cumberland Escarpment, the Cumberland Plateau and the valley below together offer a great variety of habitat types and opportunities for diversity of flora and fauna. The steep slopes of the escarpment tend to be less disturbed and so retain many elements of the unique communities that have naturally evolved there. Geologic diversity is an important factor in the complexity of the flora on the properties and also creates an incredibly scenic environment. The sandstone cliffs and rockhouses are simply dramatic and exciting to explore. We are looking forward to learning a great deal from these properties.”
For more information about these conservation easements or other FLC projects/programs, please contact Bill Clabough at 865-755-3883 or by email at email@example.com.
Mission Statement – Foothills Land Conservancy is dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the lands and environments of East Tennessee and promoting the character of the region for the benefit of the general public, now and in the future.
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Foothills Land Conservancy ● 865-681-8326 ● 373 Ellis Avenue ● Maryville, TN 37804 ● www.foothillsland.org
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On September 5-6 FLC’s Land Director, Meredith Clebsch, attended the Woodland and Savanna Management Workshop in Crossville, TN. The program was put on by the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture and TWRA to support the restoration of landscapes, especially in the plateau region, to historical woodland/savanna communities that support grassland bird species. Grassland birds are among the most imperiled of all North American birds primarily due to loss of historical habitat. It is estimated that less than 1% of this habitat remains. Included in this group of birds are Northern bobwhite quail, a number of sparrow species, Prairie and Blue-winged warblers and yellow breasted chats.