FLC’s 2015 Celebration Flyer – CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
To view last year’s 2014 Celebration page that includes images from the event, please click here.
Foothills Land Conservancy 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.
This year, FLC celebrates 30 years of service as a regional land trust with 58,900 acres preserved to date! Last year, Foothills had our 4th consecutive record year for preserved acreage. To learn more about our programs, please view our 2015 Spring Newsletter & 2014 Annual Report by clicking on the image below.
January 2015 News Release
Maryville, TN – In late-December 2014 the Foothills Land Conservancy celebrated another ‘best ever’ conservation year with the completion of 13 conservation easements totaling 11,711 acres – projects that span 4 states and cover 8 counties! To date, FLC’s cumulative land preservation projects now cover 58,711 acres within the 5 states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Over the past four years (2011-2014), FLC has doubled the amount of acreage preserved through conservation easement agreements compared to all the years prior to 2011.
“2014 was a phenomenal year that has been preceded by several other ‘record’ years”, says Bill Clabough, FLC’s Executive Director. He adds, “These successes can be directly attributed to all of our supporters and especially our Board members – they’ve enabled Foothills to grow and expand our service area.”
(The news release continues below images.)
In 2014, FLC worked with landowners on conservation easement projects in Tennessee as well as in the adjacent states of Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina. Last year, FLC partnered with landowners on an out of state land project consisting of 120 acres off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Wautaga County, North Carolina. Below is a list of FLC’s 2014 completed conservation easement projects along with project highlights.
Located close to the Tennessee/Kentucky state line, this newly preserved and scenic property resides along a high ridge on the Cumberland Plateau. The easement is very visible to the public for a large area as US highways 25E and 58 are nearby, as well as a
number of county roads, and the city of Middlesboro, Kentucky. Adjoining the easement are both Federal and state-protected lands, including the Shillalah Creek Wildlife Management Area and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The easement not only adjoins Cumberland Gap National Historical Park but also provides views from the park’s overlooks. Other nearby natural areas include the Wilderness Road State Park and Martin’s Fork Wildlife Management Area and State Natural Area. This easement protects part of the headwaters and sections of a number of creeks. These waterways include Shillalah Creek, Bee Branch, and Devil’s Garden Branch, which flow into the Clear Fork and the Upper Cumberland Watershed. Rock outcrops and boulderfield communities add to the diversity and wildlife habitat.
One of FLC’s larger conservation easements to date, this conservation easement is an expansive scenic tract just northwest of Columbia, in Fairfield County, South Carolina. The site is mainly forested with the Broad River flowing along one the easement’s boundaries. Creeks, springs, wetlands, ponds, and open fields are also present. Animal species noted or likely to use the tract include resident and migratory bird species, coyote, grey and red fox, black bear, southern flying squirrel, a variety of snakes and lizards, eastern box turtle (two shells noted), and white tailed deer.
This property is located in Lumpkin County, close to Dahlonega, Georgia. It’s in close proximity to the Chattahoochee National Forest. Several natural areas, including Amicolola Falls State Park, Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area, Unicoi State
Park and other portions of the National Forest, are also close to the property. This site once housed a granite quarrying operation. A portion of the property borders the Chestatee River. This 50 mile stretch of waterway is popular with many kayakers, canoeists and fisherman is also highly visible within the site’s viewshed. One of the most crucial resources on the Property is the abundance of clean water from the Chestatee River as well as from the various other streams, drainways and associated riparian areas found on the tract. The property is almost entirely wooded, with only a small portion kept cut around the site of an old granite quarry. During a site visit, FLC staff observed deer, bobcat, and bear tracks along with an abundant sign of beaver, including a small dam.
Centennial Pioneer Farm, Hartsaw Cove – Overton County, TN (1,502.95 acres)
Millard Oakely’s family farm, Hartsaw Cove, is one of only a few ‘Centennial Pioneer Farms’, indicating the farm is actually older than the State of Tennessee. The farm was originally given as a land grant to Oakley’s family in 1792; 4 years before Tennessee became a State. The property is located within 20 miles of Cookeville, near Livingston in Overton County, TN.
In December of 2014, three tracts on the farm, totaling 1,502.95 acres, were placed under one conservation easement with FLC. As it has been for over 200 years, this property is still maintained as a working farm and is currently leased out to Tennessee Tech as the Oakley Sustainable Agricultural Center (OSAC). The OSAC is an experiential learning center for students that offer opportunities for agricultural experiments to agriculture, biology, history, and other fields of study. Property is approximately 60% in open land for agriculture production and 40% in woodlands .Currently hay production, pasture and beef cattle are the dominant agricultural activities.
The Property is located in an area rich with natural, historical, or recreational parks and sites. Nearby parks include the Standing Stone State Park, Roaring River Park, the Roaring River Recreational Are, and the Obey River Park and Recreation Area. Within 15 miles of the Property is Cummins Falls State Park, a 211-acre park that features Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall. The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area are located within 20 miles of the farm.
A note about Mr. Oakley… Millard Oakley was elected to four terms to the Tennessee Legislature, served one term to the Constitutional Convention, and was elected to four terms as County Attorney of Overton County. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971-1973 as General Counsel for the House Select Committee on Small Business. Moving back to Tennessee, Millard served as State Insurance Commissioner from 1975-1979. Throughout his life, Mr. Oakely has served the Overton County community and surrounding counties through various volunteer efforts and educational initiatives.
Marion County TN – 6 Conservation Easements
FLC also completed 6 new conservation project partnerships, totaling 4,485 acres, near Tracey City in Marion County, TN. Three of the tracts are 705 acres each with the remaining three easements at 876, 765 and 699 acres respectively. All 6 tracts are contiguous and lie above both the Sequatchie Valley and Indian Creek and offer sweeping views of the surrounding Cumberland Plateau, Escarpment and ridges above Sequatchie Valley. TWRA, as part of its Tennessee’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, considers the Sequatchie Valley as one of the most unique features of the Cumberland Plateau. The preservation of these lands from commercial and residential development, including strip mining activity, will also contribute to the long term enhancement of water quality for the Little Sequatchie River, Mill Creek and Little Indian Creek.
This 288 tract is completely surrounded by U.S. Forest Service lands. The adjacent Cherokee National Forest (CNF) includes over 650,000 acres in east TN. The Southern Region of the CNF includes around 220,000 acres of forests in east TN, and Forest Service lands continue into the 531,000 acre Nantahala National Forest in NC. The Property itself includes a variety of habitats similar to adjacent protected lands and wildlife is plentiful. The Hiwassee River, a State Scenic River and a State Exceptional River, bounds roughly 3,000’ of the Property on the NE side. One creek on the Property, Shadwick Branch, has been noted as an Exceptional Stream by the State of Tennessee for its high quality water and associated habitat. Another conserved property, consisting of 649 acres of forested land held by Foothills Land Conservancy, lies within 10 miles of the Property.
The old CSX Railroad tracks cross the tract in two areas and essentially surrounds the property. Currently, the Overhill Heritage Association oversees management of a private excursion train for scenic tours, called the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure, originating in Etowah, TN. These tours, as well as the occasional shipping of freight including calcite from Copper Hill, TN, are the primary uses of the railway. Located at a sharp bend of the river just off the Property can be found a unique loop of the tracks around Bald Mountain. This is one of only three locations in the US where railroad tracks loop over themselves to gain elevation in limited space. The trestle itself is located within the boundaries of the Property.
The 1028 acre tract is located south of the small town of Spencer, TN and is visible from State Route 111 along its eastern border. Numerous outdoor recreation destinations are in the area, including South Cumberland State Park and Fall Creek Falls State Park. Also within ten miles of the property there are at least seven properties with Foothills Land Conservancy conservation easements totaling more than 5,400 acres. The conservation of this property will support the continuity of habitat corridors between these and other extensive open space lands in the region.
This 755 acre property lies within the Cumberland Plateau and Plateau Escarpment in Grundy County near the small community of Palmer. The tract offers views off to the surrounding Cumberland Plateau toward the Sequatchie Valley, Walden’s Ridge and the Tennessee River drainage. The size of the property along with the range of elevation and geology combined with the variations of hydrology, slopes, rock outcrops, multiple streams, seeps and edges provides for an unusually high diversity of natural habitats of both plant and animal species. Tracks of white-tailed deer, turkey, coyote, possum, raccoon and songbirds were observed during a staff site visit. Already protected areas nearby include a number of existing conservation easements as well as Prentice Cooper State Forest and the Cumberland Trail, Grundy Forest, South Cumberland State Recreation Area with Savage Gulf and Fiery Gizzard Trail, Grundy Lakes State Park, North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area, North Chickamauga Creek WMA and Franklin State Forest most prominently.
About Conservation Easements: For private landowners who wish to ensure their property stays in its natural state or as a working farm ‘in perpetuity’, or forever, they can opt to enter into a conservation easement agreement with a land trust. This customizable contract describes the activities allowed on the property like hiking, camping, firewood cutting, and farming but often prohibits things like mining and future commercial or residential development. Landowners who place a conservation easement on their property can continue to own, use, sell, live on or bequeath their land.
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.
For media inquiries, please contact FLC’s Executive Director, Bill Clabough, by cell phone at 865-755-3883. For more information or public inquiries about the Foothills Land Conservancy, please visit www.foothillsland.org or contact the FLC office at 865-681-8326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out related media articles:
Maryville Daily Times: Foothills Land Conservancy Protected 11,600 acres in 2014
Knoxville News Sentinel: Conservancy has another record year
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
In 2013, 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 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.
Dick Conley – For 39 years Dick Conley served as a wildlife habitat biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Retired in 2007, Mr. Conley currently works as a biologist/forest consultant for several land owners in East Tennessee and is a consultant for what is now Seven Islands State Birding Park. He specializes in restoring native warm season grasses and soil building legumes. He served on FLC’s Board of Directors for two terms during 2008-2013.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.)
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…