“Since I inherited the farm from my late husband and he from his parents, I never did think of the farm as my property, only that I have been given stewardship of it. The donation of this land to FLC is the best way I can think of to honor that stewardship.”
- Gail Harris, pictured at her farm in Rockford, TN

Foothills Land Conservancy’s Board and staff are excited to announce that the organization’s founding member, Gail Harris, has given FLC ownership of her 300 acre Blount County farm! In 2009, Gail partnered with FLC to place a conservation easement on the property, located in Rockford, TN.  FLC will manage the property’s operations and the organization’s headquarters have been relocated to the former homestead.

For FLC’s Executive Director, Bill Clabough, this move is a monumental one for Foothills. “This is a tremendous gift that Gail has given the conservancy. It’s an opportunity for us to have a permanent headquarters, offered to us by the founding member of FLC, and on land that is protected through a conservation easement. I see so many great possibilities for the future of Foothills.”

FLC provided Gail Harris with a new modular home on the property in late 2016 so that she could stay and live on the farm. This relocation included the logistics of water, electrical, and septic hook ups for the modular home. Gail will continue to live on the farm for as long as she wants to. For Gail, it was the right decision at the right time, “It is my delightful privilege to donate this property while I am still living so that I can enjoy watching its transformation under Foothills’ management.  As open space and farms dwindle I know that the people of Blount County will be proud that this beautiful farm will be protected and enhanced by Foothills for the benefit of future generations.”

A description about the Harris property, included in the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine’s Fall 2010 issue, says it best. “The Harris property, which was purchased by the grandfather of Gail’s late husband, Jim Harris, dates back to the late 1800’s. The farm includes a spring fed pond, cave, former dairy farm, and an old tobacco barn.  Another amazing landmark? 600 million year old rocks dating back to the Cambrian period. Wright State University geology students have visited the site for research in years past. They studied the sedimentary rock outcropping so abundant in the area. Patches of yellow trillium and mayapples take shade under the 100 year old oaks, ash, and beech trees which buffer the Harris homestead.  A large variety of animals roam her property, including deer, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, and wild turkeys. Birds frequenting Gail’s feeders include bluebirds, warblers, finches, redwing blackbirds, woodpeckers, nuthatches, hummingbirds, and others.”  

Local company, Hickory Construction, completed the remodel of the Farm’s homestead for FLC’s new office in late May 2017. The Hickory team brought the structure up to code with updates to plumbing, electrical, and office lighting. They also sheet rocked, painted, and refinished all of the beautiful and original hard wood floors.  A new roof, front steps, and exterior painting of the home was also part of the update.

For Gail Harris, her wish is to make this transition happen now and not to wait:

“It is my delightful privilege to donate this property while I am still living so that I can enjoy watching its transformation under Foothills’ management.  I have absolute faith that Foothills will maximize the property’s potential as a working farm in combination with an educational nature center, wildlife preserve, and an animal refuge and rehabilitation center.  As open space and farms dwindle I know that the people of Blount County will be proud that this beautiful farm will be protected and enhanced by Foothills for the benefit of future generations.”

Your donation goes towards  supporting FLC’s enduring mission to preserve, protect, and enhance the lands of the Southern Appalachian region.

THANK YOU – Every dollar makes a difference!

Network for Good

Back to FLC’s Donate Page – Click Here


More info about the Harris Farm:

  • Check out FLC’s  short video on our ‘About Us’ page that includes an interview with Gail Harris.  Click here!




2016 Summer Celebration Photos

2016 Summer Celebration – Photo Gallery

FLC’s Summer Celebration!
Saturday • August 20, 2016 • 5:00pm – 8:30pm • RiverView Family Farm

12130 Prater Lane – Knoxville, TN  37922
RiverView Family Farm sits on 265 acres and is located on Fort Loudon Lake in the Concord community of west Knoxville. The farm has the Tennessee Century Farm designation and has been in the family for 7 generations. This is a working farm providing grain and grass fed beef and hay.

IMG_8569 (2)On behalf of FLC’s Board of Directors and staff we wanted to thank all of our Friends, over 300 of you,  for joining us at FLC’s annual Summer Celebration! This year’s gathering was held at RiverView Family Farm. A beautiful265 acre working farm and designated Tennessee Century Farm located on Fort Loudon Lake in west Knoxville.

FLC’s Executive Director, Bill Clabough notes that this event is always a special time for Foothills, “Once a year FLC’s Board of Directors, Staff, Friends of the Foothills, Corporate Sponsors, and those interested in learning more about the organization get a chance to visit, to hear about our successes as well as upcoming projects. And we just enjoy spending time with each other – it’s a party!”
Despite storms in the area all evening, RiverView escaped the showers and FLC’s  program kicked off with a short presentation from FLC Executive DirEagleector, Bill Clabough.  Bill conveyed that FLC has the potential, by the end of 2016, for a standout record year in regards to preserved acreage.  Mark King, FLC’s current V-P and outgoing President, handed over a large, carved eagle to FLC’s incoming President, Madge Cleveland.  This tradition began a few years ago as a symbolic passing of the leadership torch.  FLC Founding Member, Gail Harris, also took time to address the crowd, highlighting her love of East Tennessee and the importance of land conservation in our unique and highly diversified region.

Doug Mills, Videographer of the local television program, “The Heartland Series”, provided his outstanding photography skills to capture the Celebration attendees. Click here to view event photos.  Holly Hambright’s crew and the Pour Guys took care of guests with a Southern menu that included: Holly’s Famous Candied Bacon, Sweet Pea Salad with Feta & Mint,  Pork & Chicken Sliders, along with mini Key Lime, Chocolate & Strawberry Rhubarb Pies. Door prizes included a rain barrel donated by the Water Quality Forum, a year subscription to the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine, signed books by Bill Landry, Stephen Lyn Bales, and Sherri Lee Baxter. Local artist and musician and artist, Leah Gardner, donated a collection of her native tree and plant stationary.

As we transition from summer and into fall, the Foothills team has hit the ground running with projects in multiple Tennessee counties and states! The second half of the year is always a busy one for completing land preservation partnerships and we can’t wait to share the news as these projects become official conservation easement agreements. If you have an interest in learning more about preserving your land in it’s natural state or as a working farm, please contact the FLC office at 865-681-8326, visit our Landowner’s Page, as well as info on the now permanent enhanced Federal tax incentive for conservation easement donations.

– The FLC Team

 Click here or below to view event photos!


A big thank you to FLC’s 2016 Celebration Sponsors & Hosts!


Click here to read about FLC’s 2015 Summer Celebration!

Click here to read about FLC’s 2015 Land Preservation Projects!


FLC30years for AR (2)

FLC Celebrates 30 Years and Another Banner Conservation Year!

Maryville, TN –  Foothills Land Conservancy celebrated another successful conservation year with the completion of a record number of land projects within a one year period – 24 land partnerships totaling 7215 acres. These projects span 5 states and cover 7 Tennessee counties! To date, FLC’s cumulative land preservation efforts now cover 65,900 acres within the 7 states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and recent additions of Alabama and Virginia. FLC’s projects also involve two new Tennessee counties – Clay and Humphreys. FLC has also received 4 fee-simple land donations.

In other good news, the US Congress recently passed a bill that will make the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. Once signed into law the incentive will be applied retroactively to start Jan. 1, 2015. “I consider the permanent tax incentive for conservation easements icing on the cake of an amazing year. We’ve had another successful year for Foothills and it happens to be a milestone year for us as well – celebrating 30 years as a regional land trust,” says Bill Clabough, FLC’s Executive Director. He adds, “This year’s conservation easement partnerships, support from all of our Friends, and our diversified Board of Directors are the major reasons for our continued phenomenal growth and expansion of our service area.”

FLC’s 2015 East Tennessee Conservation Easements:

Blount County Property

Outstanding view looking out into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from a recently preserved property in Blount County, TN.

Blount County, TN –   This 68.19 acre property in Blount County consists of three tracts and is located in the Top of the World community, close to the Foothills Parkway. This newly preserved property offers outstanding views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).  The predominantly forested and undeveloped nature of the property is valuable for the many natural resources it protects. The numerous oaks and hickories supply ample mast for wildlife and the rhododendrons add the needed cover for the black bear, bobcat and fox known to live in the area.

There are a few creeks on the property with one, known as Flat Creek UT, that is listed as a high quality stream within the GSMNP from which it enters the property just 100-200 feet upstream. Per the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation, observations of the federally endangered and Tennessee critically imperiled Indiana Myotis (Bat) have occurred between one and four miles from the property. Their preferred foraging area is riparian forest habitat. The streams on the Property provide such habitat and may very well be used as the bats feed up to nearly 6 miles from their roosts. Foothills Land Conservancy has eight conservation easements totaling 2,359 acres between one to ten miles from this Property on Chilhowee Mountain. Fourteen other easements, totaling close to 2,047 acres, are located near the Chilhowee Mountain ridgeline.

Bull Run Valley 1 - Knox Co., TN

FLC Conservation Easment in the Bull Run Valley area of Knox County, TN.

Knox County, TN – A landowner that has worked previously with FLC on two other preserved tracts, totaling 365 acres in the Bull Run Valley area of Knox County, decided to place an additional two tracts in conservation easement with Foothills this year.  One tract is 37 acres and is adjacent to Bull Run Creek with the other nearby tract at 22.45 acres. Both tracts consist of agriculture fields with no buildings permitted on either tract.

Evidence of wildlife on the property during the site visit was plentiful, with deer, gray squirrel, eastern chipmunk and turkey being most prominent. Several dragonflies, damselflies, skippers and other butterflies were observed utilizing the Property including migrating Monarchs. A variety of birds were heard or seen including a number of warblers and thrushes in the woodlands and sparrows and hawks in the open lands. The most unique habitat found on the Property was a limestone bluff stretching across the southern boundary of the one of the tracts. It supported several uncommon limestone-loving ferns including walking fern, spleenwort, and purple cliffbrake.

Knox County, TN

Knox County, TN – Consulting Biologist, Tom Howe, stands next to a shellbark hickory tree.

Knox County, TN - A 15 acre Knox County property, located in the community of Powell, has been placed under conservation    easement with Foothills. It consists mainly of wetlands and also provides the frontage for a scenic road. The landowner has plans to donate it to the Legacy Parks Foundation with the overall understanding that it will eventually be turned over to the city/county government for a public park.

The Property is essentially an island of habitat amid an urban setting and therefore is an oasis for wildlife. The mature trees and shrubs offer plentiful seasonal food, cavities, nesting sites and cover for most urban wildlife and for migratory and resident birds.  The creek, being a year-round water source, would be an important resource for wildlife including fish, waterfowl, amphibians and aquatic arthropods. There was abundant white-tailed deer sign and some beaver sign observed on the property during an FLC inventory of the flora and fauna.

Rural Resources - Greene Co., TN

Picture of Rural Resources farm in Greene County, TN

Greene County, TN – A 15.17 acre tract in Greene County, belonging to the non-profit group, Rural Resources, has been preserved through a conservation easement agreement with FLC. The property was formerly owned by the Childress family. The Childresses established the organization in response to the rapid loss of farmland they observed and desired their four-generation farm and others to be preserved.   Rural Resources is dedicated to the education and training of youth in environmentally sound farming practices and teaching them to run a farm or food related business. The organization plans to continue utilizing the property in a manner that allows for sustainable agricultural practices and supports educating the community for an agrarian way of life into the future.

There is a creek on the property with the Nolichucky River close by. The property made up of approximately 90% agricultural fields and pastures and 10% of riparian fringe along the creek. The land also supports grassland birds that are increasingly under pressure to survive due to diminishing habitat. This includes the Eastern Meadowlark which has been seen on site and the Northern Bobwhite which breeds on the property. It also serves as the wintering grounds for field-loving birds such as the White-crowned Sparrow, uncommon in Tennessee. The riparian corridor also provides cover for migrating birds in spring and fall.

FLC Continues Conservation Efforts across Middle Tennessee:

Van Buren County, TN – Two adjacent properties have been placed under conservation easement with FLC in Van Buren County, TN. One property is 528.92 acres and the other is 1,025.07 acres. Both tracts have reclaimed mine sites with good drainages. The Rocky River flows through both sites.

Close to these properties are two other tracts, which have also recently been preserved through conservation easements. One tract is 328.38 acres and the other, larger size tract, is 631.30 acres. While portions have been timbered, there are open fields with native vegetation, include oak and hickory along with warm season grasses. The Rocky River also flows through one of the tracts.

Three of the Van Buren CE’s are located next to the historic Trail of Tears. This year’s land projects in Van Buren County contribute towards 4,000 contiguous acres now being preserved through FLC’s conservation easements, along with a few thousand additional acres are located close by.

Assorted Van Buren Images from CE's

Images from FLC’s Van Buren Conservation Easements

To view descriptions and  photos for the remainder of projects, please view the image  gallery below. (Select a photo to enlarge.)


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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. Anyone wishing to learn more about FLC, can visit www.foothillsland.org or contact the Foothills office at 865-681-8326 or info@foothillsland.org.

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Foothills Land Conservancy ● 865-681-8326 ● 373 Ellis Avenue ● Maryville, TN 37804 ● www.foothillsland.org

Media Links:

January 2016 Article – Knoxville News Sentinel ‘Foothills Land Conservancy enjoys another record year’, click here.

December 2015 Article – Maryville Daily Times ‘FLC Protects more than 7000k acres’, click here.

November 2015 Article – Maryville  Daily Times ‘Land Conservancy’s Big Year’, click here.

Read about FLC’s 2014 Land Projects, click here.

To make a donation to FLC, click here.



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Image taken from Bluff Mountain in Sevier County. Photo courtesy of Mike Naney.

Image taken from Bluff Mountain in Sevier County. Photo courtesy of Mike Naney.

 We hope you can join FLC staff for an  ‘Open House’ atop Bluff Mountain on Sunday,  October 18, 2015, from 11am-3pm.  This will be an informal gathering that  includes a fall update on FLC’s programs, light refreshments and an optional, short guided walk.

DETAILS: The event is free and reservations are not required. The meeting location is: 3270 Greentop Road – Sevierville, TN 37876. Please contact  Elise Eustace with any questions at: 865-681-8326 or eeustace@foothillsland.org.

The Bluff Mountain Ecological Reserve was established in 2009. This 510 acres atop Chilhowee Mountain in Sevier County was bequeathed to the Foothills Land Conservancy by the late Marian E. Oates – a much loved and respected teacher, community volunteer, and conservationist. Once a favorite vacation spot for Marian’s grandparents and her father, Frank, back in the early 1900s, the site offers panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding counties, contains several springs, and provides for native plant and wildlife habitats. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Frank Oates developed a land acquisition plan to buy up tracts, eventually purchasing the very top of Bluff Mountain for $10,000. With a bit of patience and much excitement he and his wife, Emma Ree Crooks Oates, built their dream retirement home at this site in 1964. This land is now protected from commercial development through a conservation easement with Foothills Land Conservancy that was also made possible by Ms. Oates.




Recap of FLC’s ’30th Anniversary’ Summer Celebration – August 22, 2015

2015 Celebration

On Saturday, August 22, 2015,the Foothills Board, staff, and supporters gathered to celebrate FLC’s 30th anniversary as a regional land trust.

 This year’s Summer Celebration was another successful and fun evening spent at Penrose Farm. Many thanks to our hostess, Christine ‘Teenie’ Hayworth. We would also like to thank our 2015 Sponsors, 2015 Host Committee, and volunteers along with our Board of Directors for making this event a wonderful gathering of friends.

During the program, Foothills announced the creation of a new fund, called The Land Preservation Fund. This special fund will assist FLC with future land protection and acquisition projects. To date, close to $14,000 has been raised in donations ‘in memory of’ Jack Rose. The FLC Board has agreed to match, dollar for dollar, these donations along with any future donations ‘in memory of’ Jack Rose. The money to date – all $24,000 – will be placed in the Land Preservation Fund. FLC has also approved a portion of money recently received from the estate of the late Charlie Klabunde, along with donations made by two other FLC supporters, to be moved into this fund as well. We are excited to report that the fund balance now stands at a total of $100,000, assisting in a great start for an important fund.

Here are a few links to recent media articles about FLC’s 30th anniversary as a regional land trust and our recent Summer Celebration:

2015 Summer Celebration

Celebrate Summer – Conservancy marks 30 years of land protection – Maryville Daily Times
Cynthia Moxley’s The Blue Streak ‘Foothills and friends remember Jack Rose’
30 Years of Protecting Land – FLC celebrates past, looks ahead – Maryville Daily Times
Roots of Foothills Land Conservancy are deep – Maryville Daily Times

To view last year’s 2014 Celebration page that includes images from the event, please click here.

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