FLC’s 2014 Native Tree & Shrub Projects

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.

To view a slide show about the grant’s projects, the benefits of planting native in your own backyard, and resources available, please click on this link: Power Point Presentation.

Picture1Images from FLC’s Spring 2014 Native Tree and Shrub Plantings

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.

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 info@foothillsland.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



Due to it’s density, gamma grass has a swift, steady hot burn. Ideal weather conditions contribute to the smoke’s straight rise above the field.




Dick Conley (left) and Ken Goddard observing a switchgrass field post-control burn.

*Please note – this article is not to be utilized as a resource or guide for planning your own control burn but simply for educational purposes only. Any control burn must go through the proper safety measures, permits and notifications specified under local, state and federal laws and regulations.


Most of us, when we see a field engulfed in flames tend to tense up, hope things don’t get out of hand, and are glad it is not our project to tend to! For one man in East Tennessee, the responsibility is often found on his shoulders. When you need a control burn expert for warm season native grasses, the person to call is retired TWRA wildlife habitat biologist and FLC Board Member, Dick Conley.
For 39 years Dick Conley worked for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Retired in 2007, Mr. Conley currently provides services as a biologist/forest consultant for several land owners in East Tennessee. He specializes in restoring native warm season grasses and soil building legumes.
In March of 2013, Dick Conley provided a control burn within several sections native warm season grasses within Gene Hartman’s farm. Back in 2008 Mr. Hartman and his wife Becky, partnered with FLC on a conservation easement covering 920 acres on their farm in Roane County.   Also there to learn more about these type of control burns was Ken Goddard, Extension Biofuels Specialist with the University of Tennessee.
According to Conley, the most important question to ask before you begin a control burn is, “What is your overall objective for your farm? And in this case it is for us to promote quail management. And as a result of that, you are also managing for a multitude of different species like song birds, deer, and turkey.” Once the bird’s nesting period is over, burns are then planned. One of the strategies that Conley applies is a checkerboard pattern of burning to allow for standing wildlife cover. For quail and song bird management you don’t want to burn everything.   The next year, fields that were not burned the previous year will be evaluated for burning.

Dick Conley ignites the perimiter of a dense field of gamma grass.

As Conley explains, “Fields become too dense and wildlife habitat can’t thrive, populations decline.” When these dense fields are not controlled, food for the birds like beggar lice, ragweed, and lespedeza can’t be sustained. The general rule of thumb for production fields of warm season grasses utilized for hay and biofuels is one clump per one square foot. For wildlife habitat you want one clump of grass per six square feet, allowing the necessary room for habitat to move around while still being covered.
So what are the optimal weather conditions for burning? Conley says there are several major components of a controlled burn – wind velocity should not exceed 4-5 miles , humidity levels should be really no higher than 40-50%  and temperatures are close to 40 degrees, and lastly the amount of fuel that is being burned. You want lots of fuel on the ground so it will ‘burn hot’. The time of year for a control burn like this is generally from February 15th through the end of March/1st of April.
Once all of these conditions are met, how does Conley approach the actual burn? He places a fire line around the perimeter of the field, letting it burn towards the center. He makes sure that there are open spaces around the field so that if the fire moves towards an adjacent area, the site easily be handled utilizing tools and a water tank.
What can be another benefit to a control burn? It can make the removal of invasive exotics very easy! In this case, Conley was able to take out a hedgerow of privet quickly. Any invasive shrubs still left standing can be sprayed and removed easily. A short while after the burn, a soil test will be conducted and sent in to the University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension Office.  Whatever nutrients the report indicates is lacking within the soil can be added in. For perennial grasses, like switchgrass and gammagrass, the fields will come back post-burn and without any supplemental planting.
A note about the UT Biofuels Initiative…
The biofuels contract program for farmers has expired. The program benefitted farmers that grew switchgrass, so that it could ultimately be ground up and converted into ethanol. Folks at the Hartman farm are moving towards keeping most, if not all, of the grass fields for its wildlife cover instead of harvesting a portion of the hay for livestock.
According to Goddard, farmers are looking into the use of native grasses and examining the optimal time to plant and cut for hay, ensuring the maximum nutrition for the cows. Right now, UT is looking into funding research through competitive grants to grow these grasses. Planting native warm season grasses could ultimately help fill in the grazing gap for cool season grasses, like fescue and orchard grass, which are heavily utilized in the livestock business. Goddard mentions that, “in the summer farmers typically have to use hay or plant some annual warm season grasses such as sudan grass. It’s nice to have a perennial, like switchgrass, so they don’t have to plant every year.” In this way, Goddard sees the planting of switchgrass as having a major benefit while the demand for biofuels kicks back up. He adds, “the marketplace for biofuels will move forward by creating both the crop and the demand… and so until the biofuel market becomes viable/ commercialized, finding varied, useful ways to incorporate switchgrass makes sense.” For additional information about native warm season grasses, please visit The Center for Native Grassland Management.

Tour of Roane County Conservation Easement

Folks get the full tour experience while sitting atop 'Monster Truck'!

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 info@foothillsland.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:

Dick leads the tour through the various native warm season grasses on Hartman's property.

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.

Spring fed ponds abound on the Hartman property providing for many different wildlife species.

50 acres of Hartman’s property has switchgrass. Until recently, the acreage was part of UT’s biofuels initiative.

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…


2012 Conservation Easements

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:

Blount 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.

Loudon County

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.

Warren County

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 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.

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 bclabough@foothillsland.org.

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

For 2011 Easements info: Click here

For News, Publications & eNews Archives: Click here


Clarence Coffee, 2nd from left, discusses the savanna flora with workshop attendees. Clarence, retired TWRA, was instrumental in promoting the need to restore these landscapes to support threatened wildlife and plant species.

Workshop participants investigate the effects of burning on Catoosa WMA.

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.

These communities are known to have occurred across large acreages in the middle Tennessee and western Kentucky region priorto human habitation.  Many of thesecommunities have been vastly altered from their original state due to fire reduction practices and agricultural activities and may no longer be readily recognized on the landscape. However the structure and diversity of plants they support are critical to many declining grass and shrub-land species.
The workshop was developed to aid land managers in understanding the components of woodland and savanna communities, the value these vanishing landscapes provide, and how best to restore these critical habitats.  The information presented provided land managers and consultants with resources to better understand savanna and woodland community types and the knowledge to better manage these forgotten ecosystems.
In a nutshell, what has to happen is the reduction of the tree canopy to something less than 50% to allow enough light to the ground for a diverse mix of grasses and other herbaceous species as well and shrubs to flourish.  This means most of the sub canopy is removed.  Much of the discussion focused on the use of fire and what the most effective burning schedule is to establish and maintain these landscapes. We observed the results of various fire management regimes in a tour of Catoosa Wildlife Management Area which has been working to restore these landscapes since the mid-1980s.  Burning in the growing season, August and September, is now being recommended as most effective for reducing the woody cover.
Now that FLC has thousands of acres in easements on the plateau and more to come, we hope this information will be useful to those concerned about wildlife habitat management for this important community.
For more information about this topic visit the Central Hardwood Joint Venture.

FLC Photography Tours

Private Lands Photo Tour with Foothills Land Conservancy

Although this event has already passed, please email eeustace@foothillsland.org if there is any interest in taking photos for FLC!

(Click here to view a short video about FLC - Produced by Doug Mills of the Heartland Series!)

Photographer Mark Lewis and FLC Board Member, Dick Conley, on location at a Rhone County farm (property preserved with an FLC conservation easement agreement). Photoshoot for Sept. 2010 issue of TN Conservationist Magazine.

UPDATED DETAILS: This tour will focus on 3 Sevier County easements and, depending on time, a late afternoon visit to a farm in Blount County. What to expect? Scenic views atop Bluff Mountain, fall leaf color, creeks, woods, wildlife, wide shots of the valley along Walden’s Creek. At one of the properties, farmer, FLC Board Member and Conservation Easement donor, Mike Suttles, will provide background about his family’s farm and can answer any questions about the valley. Foothills Land Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and biodiversity on privately owned land from the Cumberland Plateau to the Smoky Mountains.  On Saturday, October 13th, FLC staff will lead a photographers’ tour of properties selected from the 90 that have been protected by conservation easements.  Foothills has arranged permissions from land owners for this rare opportunity to scout properties that are usually not available to most photographers.  Bring your gear for a day capturing images that tell the story of farms, open spaces, biodiversity, water quality management and the unique reasons these properties should be preserved. It’s possible that some of these lands could be used for unique workshops or individual photographers may be able to form relationships with land owners for future visits and images few others have chances to capture.  On the tour, talk with the staff about the direction your imagination takes you.

Of course, Foothills Land Conservancy will appreciate any images photographers are willing to share for the purpose of protecting more of our East Tennessee beauty.  Photographer credit will always be included.  Foothills actively seeks publication of its cause in numerous publications.

Additional Tour Details:

Meeting Details: The plan will be to meet at the FLC office at 9:30am on Saturday, October 13, 2012. FLC’s office location is 373 Ellis Avenue, Maryville, TN  37804. You can contact Elise with any questions before the tour via cell phone at 865-201-5806. You may wish to carpool with friends, you can follow the Foothills staff in your own car and there will be some room in the staff cars as well. The tour should conclude at the FLC office around 5:00PM but participants can leave at any time. Tour is subject to cancellation if inclement weather occurs.

Reservation Required: Tour is Limited to 20 Spaces, please contact Elise Eustace with FLC to reserve your spot. She can be reached at (865) 681-8326 or eeustace@foothillsland.org.  Box lunches will be provided by Foothills for participants who register before October 5.  There is no fee for this tour.  Foothills wants to expand awareness of its important work.

Level of Difficulty: These will be primarily intermediate walks with a few places that might be difficult to get to. There will always be an option for individuals to decline a portion of the trip if it is not feasible. Please bring water, comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk a mile or so at each property (we will visit around 4-5 properties).

What kind of shots can the photographer expect to make?: A wide variety – the East Tennessee landscape is diverse and so are the properties we will be visiting. We will more than likely visit one to two farms, open spaces/natural areas, rivers/creeks, and a few that offer a scenic views. All images are welcome but we would like to get a few shots of landowners (with their permission) wildlife, native flora and fauna, scenic views and water images. Finalized tour details will be sent to participants in the coming weeks.

2011 Conservation Easement Projects

Now in our 27th year of service as a land trust, FLC has assisted in the preservation of 30,000 acres in 18 Tennessee counties. This past year Foothills partnered with landowners on nineteen land protection projects covering 4400 acres! Recent easements include two Tennessee Century Farms in Monroe County, 120 acres along the French Broad in Knox County, a 364 tract in Blount County (Camp Montvale) and 1700 acres within the Cumberland Plateau (Scott, Overton & Cumberland Counties).

The following links provide an overview of our 2011 easements:

Part 1 - Blount County – Monroe County (2 Century Farms) – Union County

Part 2Cumberland County - Overton County – Scott County

Part 3Blount County – Jackson County - Knox County – Meigs County – Roane County – Williamson County

Part 4Blount County – Bradley County – Knox County

To View FLC’s 2012 Conservation Easement Projects: Click Here

To View FLC’s Publications & eNews Archive: Click Here


Media Article about FLC’s 2011 land projects:

The Daily Times – Camp Montvale Site Preserved

Each year since 1965, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) has honored a select group of leaders in the conservation and stewardship of wildlife and their habitat in Tennessee. This year, East Tennessee’s Foothills Land Conservancy (FLC) was honored with the Conservation Organization of the Year award during the 46th Annual TWF Conservation Achievement Awards. The ceremony was held on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville.

Foothills Land Conservancy receives TWF’s Conservation Organization of the Year award. (Pictured left to right) Dan Hammond, TWF’s Chairman of the Board; Ernie Blankenship, FLC Board Member; and Elise Eustace, FLC Communication & Development Director.

Foothills Land Conservancy receives TWF’s Conservation Organization of the Year award. (Pictured left to right) Dan Hammond, TWF’s Chairman of the Board; Ernie Blankenship, FLC Board Member; and Elise Eustace, FLC Communication & Development Director.

“These awards recognize those individuals and organizations that have made truly meaningful contributions to conservation in Tennessee and to TWF,” says Michael Butler, TWF’s chief executive officer. “The great work of our past winners lives on today, and the current generation is building upon those successes. Without their willingness to take action, we would have failed in our mission, and we are proud to honor their contributions.”

A selection committee comprised of TWF members, Board representatives, conservation professionals and members of the media reviewed all nominations and decided on the winners.  Foothills Land Conservancy received the Conservation Organization of the Year award for outstanding achievement by an organization for work in some phase of conservation during the contest year.

2010 was a milestone year for Foothills! FLC celebrated the completion of the “25 in 25” campaign – preserving 25,000 East Tennessee acres by the organization’s 25th year of service. Launched in October of 2007, FLC committed to create a regional initiative that would maximize land owner interest while raising awareness of its mission throughout the community.

To date, FLC has:

  • established, assisted or donated over 10,000 acres of land for local parks and recreation areas.
  • conserved over 8900 acres of productive agricultural lands and natural areas between 2006 and 2010.
  • assisted landowners in creating over 70 conservation easement agreements in a total of 13 East Tennessee counties.

The mission of Foothills Land Conservancy is to protect, preserve, and enhance the natural landscape of the East Tennessee region. FLC provides landowners the tools and resources to protect their property from development in perpetuity.  All conservation easement agreements coordinated through Foothills are voluntary, customizable, approved by a Board of Directors and monitored at least once a year. FLC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and does not receive any financial support from federal, state, or local governments.

Media Coverage

Chattanooga.com Article

To learn more about Foothills Land Conservancy, please visit their website at www.foothillsland.org or contact their office at 865-681-8326.

A special thank you to all of our Friends…

For another successful Summer Celebration!


Photo Courtesy: Doug Mills

A special thank you to all of our Friends for helping to make this year’s Celebration one of the most successful to date! Close to 300 guests mingled among the pastures and gardens at Christine Hayworth’s Penrose Farm – a perfect location for FLC’s annual friend and fundraiser.  FLC Board and staff visited with and thanked our individual and corporate Friends while updating them on Foothills’ programs. Despite a few summer showers,  festivities got underway with delicious food from Holly’s Eventful Catering and beverages served by the Pour Guys. A special thank you to Campbell Tent & Party Rental, Stellar Visions & Sound and our many wonderful volunteers!

 This is the fifth year Christine Hayworth has graciously hosted FLC’s annual friend and fundraiser at her 130 acre equestrian center and horse farm. In 2007, Mrs. Hayworth partnered with FLC to place a conservation easement on the property, permanently preserving the natural features of the property, which also boasts outstanding views of the foothills and Great Smoky Mountains.

Foothills’ annual Celebration is a time to visit with other FLC supporters in a relaxed setting while celebrating the Foothills mission to preserve, protect and enhance the Tennessee landscape. This past year was a third consecutive record-breaking year and a ‘best ever’ record for Foothills Land Conservancy, with well in excess of 11,000 acres protected. To date, we have preserved over 46,000 acres in 26 Tennessee counties!

2014 Celebration Photos

Celebration Write Up in the Knoxville News Sentinel by Megan Venable

Click here to view photos courtesy of Chuck Cooper.

 Photos Below Courtesy of Doug Mills.




The support of our Friends assists us with land preservation projects, community outreach and operating expenses. To make a donation to the Foothills Land Conservancy, please visit our Donate Now page.


FLC’s 2014 Sponsors & Hosts

 2014 Sponsors

*Indicates a returning sponsor!


Pilot Corporation*


Mast General Store*




Baker Donelson, PC*                     
Blount Gastroenterology Assoc.*         
Burley Stabilization Corp.*                 
Chervenak & Associates, PC*       
CH2M HILL*                                    
Duo Fast of Knoxville*                       
Energy Solutions*                         
Furrow Auction Company*        
Gilmartin Engineering Works         
Hines & Company, P.C.                
Information International Assoc.*  
Leidos Engineering*
Little River Trading Company *Indicates a returning sponsor!
Long, Ragsdale & Waters, PC*
Mark Jendrek, PC*
ORNL Federal Credit Union*
Penrose Farm*
Renasant Bank*
Resource Advisory Services*
Restoration Services, Inc.
Retirement Planning Services*
The Trust Company*
UT Battelle*

2014 Hosts

Honey & Sen. Lamar Alexander
Kim & Mike Arms
Angie & Steve Arnett
Lucretia & William Atterson
Bob Baldani
Sheila & Dr. Charlie Barnett
Marjorie & John Beasley
Marty & David Black
Pat & Ernie Blankenship
B.J. & Gerald Boyd
Priscilla & Jim Campbell
Vicki & Jeff Chapman
Terry A. Chervenak
Betsy Child & Paul Barber
Ben C. Clark, Jr.
Jay Clark
Linda & Pete Claussen
Madge & Barry Cleveland
Donna & Bill Cobble
Dr. Mary Cushman
Karen Eberle
Bonita & John Eschenberg
Pat & Homer Fisher
Judi & David Forkner
Jenny Freeman & Bill Allen
Rachel & Dr. Gerald Gibson
Drs. Karen & Barry Goss
Gail P. Harris
Christine ‘Teenie’ Hayworth
Jean Hicks & Addison West
Robin Hill
Jenny Hines & Tom Jester
Frances & Jerry Hodge
Susan & J.T. Howell
Norma & Wes James
Debbie & Dr. Craig Jarvis
Mary & Mark Jendrek
Jamie & Steve Jones
Marilyn & Lewis Kearney
Ann & Mark King
Christie & David Lewis
Susan & David Long
Karen & Billy Minser
Pam & Mike Parton
Drs. Marie & John Peine
Betsy Prine
Kim Raia
Rep. Bob Ramsey 
Sara & Jack Rose
Courtney Russell & David Branton
Darlene & Ed St. Clair
Judy & David Shiflett
Billy Stair
Mary Kay & Bill Sullivan
Nancy & Bob Van Hook
Kathy & David Wallace
Ruth & Steve West
Kathy & John Wilbanks
Karlyn & David Zandstra


2013 Celebration Photos: Randy Purcell Photography & Chuck Cooper Photography

Knoxville News Article – FLC Touts Accomplishments at Annual Celebration

Daily Times Article –   Protecting the Land August 2013



FLC Publications & News Releases

For 2014 & 2015 Publications, click here.

2013 Publications

2012 Publications

  • 2012 Conservation Projects – Click Here

  • FLC’s 2012 Spring Newsletter & 2011 Annual Report – Click Here

  • FLC’s East TN Land Conservation Programs – Brochure

2011 Publications

For additional Foothills publications, click here.

FLC’s Monthly Electronic Newsletter sign up: FLC’s webpage


Media Articles

Daily Times Article (Dec 2012) - FLC Signs 100th Easement
Check out the Tennessee Cooperator Magazine’s (May 2012 Issue) – Foothills Land Conservancy Helps Protect Property for Future Generations
The Daily Times Editorial (May 2012) – FLC Helps Preserve Our Heritage
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