(pictured left to right) Catherine Gilreath, Conservation Easement Donor; FLC's Land Director, Meredith Clebsch; and FLC's Executive Director, Bill Clabough

Catherine Gilreath, a longtime Blount County resident and outdoors person/volunteer, recently decided to give back to her community in the form of a conservation easement.  Her wish to preserve a 11 acre tract stemmed from the experiences she had growing up and the desire to preserve the land for others. Gilreath says, “Sports kept me out of trouble. Growing up in Sevier County (Kodak) across the road from Beech Springs School, my sibling and I along with all the neighborhood kids, enjoyed the nearby outdoor recreational facilities. That’s why I wanted to specify that this property could be used for community soccer fields and for other recreational uses.”

The property includes a mix of open space and woodlands as well as a creek – all wonderful attributes for an outdoor sports area.

Picture of Gilreath's Property (Blount County)

Billy Wallace decided to partner with Foothills in 2011 in order to place his 15 acre tract in Halls under conservation easement. This is truly a unique piece of land that includes a blue hole (or underwater sinkhole) that is part cave and part spring. The property’s spring feeds into Beaver Creek that cuts through the Halls community. Adjacent to the blue hole is a bird habitat. Sparrows love the mix of grasses and nearby water source – allowing them a place for nesting and protection. The tree trunk (pictured) is the remanent of an ash tree that likely provides for bird, owl and even raccoon habitat.


In early 2010, FLC agreed to hold a conservation easement for the Legacy Parks Foundation on 26 acres in Knox County for the purpose of enlarging the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge (SIWR) property.  Since that time, the Legacy Parks Foundation has given this  tract (that includes the easement) over to Knox County for inclusion in the refuge.  SIWR is a wildlife sanctuary that encompasses 360 acres. It’s available for recreational use by the general public. Management of the SIWR refuge is a joint effort between Knox County Parks & Recreation and the Seven Islands Foundation.  *Note* Seven Islands name was changed when it became part of the TN State Park system. The website for Seven Islands State Birding Park can be viewed here: http://tnstateparks.com/parks/contact/seven-islands.

2015 Board of Directors

Charles F. Barnett M.D. – Dr. Charles Barnett is the Founder and current CSO of NanoDetection Technology. He continues work in the medical field as a practicing hospitalist at several hospitals across the country, from Alaska to Tennessee. He servesCharlie Barnett as Medical Director for Haiti Serve, providing medical services to the people of Haiti. Prior to founding NanoDetection Technology, Dr. Barnett was an established physician in internal medicine for 24 years. He has received numerous medical awards, including the Tennessee Medical Association’s Distinguished Service Award. He also holds an appointment as Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Environmental Biotechnology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has been involved in many pharmaceutical clinical trials for Parke Davis, Squibb, Ortho-McNeil, Boehringer-Ingelheim, RW Johnson, Searle, Sandoz and Centocor.

Ernie Blankenship – Mr. Blankenship is retired from a position as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. His previous experience includes positions with Tennessee Manufacturing Association, the University of TN Industrial Services Program, and the Ford Motor Company. He is member of the Blount County Planning Commission, a Magnolia Cemetery Trustee, and past President of the Little River Watershed Association. Mr. Blankenship received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee.

Jay Clark – Jay Clark is a singer-songwriter and former wildlife biologist. He has a B.S. and M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Tennessee and a PhD in Wildlife Ecology from Oklahoma State University. Jay’s research experience spans a variety of conservation issues involving a number of different species, including numerous small mammal species, raccoons, and American chestnut. However, most of Jay’s research experience has been focused on issues related to black bears, primarily in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, southeast Oklahoma, and populations across the Southeast. Although Jay is still occasionally involved in various research projects, his primary occupation for the last 6years has been as a singer-songwriter.

Madge Cleveland (FLC Vice-President) – Madge graduated from Rhodes College in 1978. She has worked in campaigns and governmental offices for Senator Lamar Alexander and (then) Mayor Victor Ashe. She has also worked in PR and technical writing for the Ingram Group and Child and Family Tennessee. Madge lives in Knoxville with her husband Barry Cleveland, a financial planner.

Jenny Freeman – Jenny Freeman is the Communications Manager for Strata-G, LLC, a Veteran-owned Small Business based in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has worked in jenny_freemanthe DOE Oak Ridge Site community for over 25 years. Her career extends over employment with small companies, a large business, and the non-profit organization, the Energy, Technology, and Environmental Business Association, giving her a range of experience in the DOE contracting arena. In addition to being a proud employee of Strata-G, she relishes her involvement with the Oak Ridge Business Safety Partnership (ORBSP), which she co-founded in 2004. The ORBSP focuses on worker safety by holding community safety forums and hosting the annual Safety Fest TN, a week-long program of free safety courses offered to anyone who registers. An enthusiast of the DOE Oak Ridge Environmental Management Program, Jenny works to support the cleanup of the Oak Ridge Reservation by helping celebrate EM’s successes and participating in activities that moves the cleanup forward. With her husband, Bill Allen, an attorney, she lives in Oak Ridge.

Jenny Hines – A native of West Virginia, Jenny moved to Knoxville in 1979 and has made this her home for the past 32 years. Jenny began her public accounting career in 1984 with Main Hurdman JennyHines(subsequently KPMG) after obtaining both her B.S. and Masters Degrees in accounting from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  She received a B.A. in Journalism from West Virginia University prior to enrolling at UT.  With her friend and fellow classmate, Janna Hubbs, she formed Hines and Company, P.C. in 1998. As a Tax Partner, Jenny works with a broad spectrum of clients ranging from real estate developers and managers to artists and media producers.  She works with both corporate and individual clients. Jenny is active in the community serving on the boards of East Tennessee Foundation, Historic Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville Symphony and Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

Dr. S. Craig Jarvis – Dr. Jarvis is a long-time Foothills supporter. He has served on FLC’s Board of Directors and also has two conservation easements with Foothills. Dr. Jarvis received a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University in 1971, graduating Magna Cum Laude and seventh in a class of 700. Dr. Jarvis received his medical degree from Duke Medical School in 1975. He then completed an InternalMedicine Internship and Residency at the Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He remained in Ohio to complete his Fellowship in Gastroenterology in 1980. Dr. Jarvis is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. Dr. Jarvis is active in the community. He is Founding Chairman of the Maryville City School Foundation and has participated with Leadership Blount in 1988 and 1998. Dr. Jarvis is a member of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Gastroenterologist Association, American Medical Society and Blount County Medical Society. Dr. Jarvis lives in Maryville, Tenn., with his wife, Debbie; he has five children. In his leisure time, Dr. Jarvis enjoys tennis, boating, hunting and spending time with his family.

Mark Jendrek (FLC Secretary) - Since 1989, Mr. Jendrek has held the position of Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee – College of Law. He currently teaches one course per semester, alternating between Contract Drafting for third year law students and Legal Research and Writing for first-year law students. Mr. Jendrek also is in private practice in Knoxville, Tennessee, with a focus on real estate and other transactional matters, and includes specialty in wireless telecommunications. He is the current Chairman of the Tennessee Supreme Court Regional Investigating Committee -Region 2, and in the past served as Chairman of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee with the Knoxville Bar Association. From 2003-2005 he served as Commissioner of the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission.

 Mark King (FLC President)– Mr. King is a life-long resident of Blount County and currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Burley Stabilization Corporation.  He is also a co-owner, along with his brother, of his family’s Blount County cattle farm, King Brothers Farm, LLC.  Mr. King graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1978 and began his accounting career with Ernst & Whinney (now Ernst & Young).  He continued in public accounting until his retirement in this past May from Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain in Knoxville.   He is an active member of the Tennessee Society of CPA’s and the American Institute of CPA’s and served on the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy from 2000-2003. He currently serves as treasurer for New Providence Presbyterian Church and as treasurer and Board Member for Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee, and was a member of the Class of 2011 of Leadership Blount.

Daniel Lawson – Mr. Lawson served as an independent insurance agent in Maryville for over 30 years and last as owner of Lawson Insurors.  He served as a board member of the Insurors of Tennessee. Throughout his career and even today he provides his time and talents to many community groups and organizations, and notably to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He is on the Board of the Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission.  Through the years he has served as an ardent volunteer for both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Adopt-a-Trail program and the Backcountry Permit Office. His many years as an experienced hiker served him as his favorite pastime and love of the National Park. He was also a Board Member and Chair at one time for the Great Smoky Mountains Association, a key partner of the Park.  His civic involvement and community activities span Leadership Blount, United Way of Blount County, American Red Cross and Maryville Kiwanis just to name a few. Mr. Lawson has a degree from Maryville College in Business Administration. He and his wife, Gaynell, live in Maryville and have three grown daughters. Mrs. Lawson is the CEO/President of CBBC Bank, based in Maryville.

David Long – Mr. Long is a Managing Partner and Attorney for Long, Ragsdale & Waters, P.C. in Knoxville, Tennessee. His David Longextensive civic/community involvement include: serving several terms as a Board Member for Foothills Land Conservancy. David is a Founding Board Member of the Legacy Parks Foundation (Land Conservation/Greenways Committee). He is a Board Member of the Knox County/Knoxville Parks Advisory Committee, and SouthEast Conservation Legal Defense Member of the Land Trust Alliance.  Since 1981, Mr. Long has been a member of the American, Tennessee, and Knoxville Bar Associations and is a frequent seminar speaker for the Tennessee Bar Association, Lorman Education, and National Business Institute.

Billy Minser - Mr. Minser has been involved in wildlife, wild land management since 1966. Formerly a wildlife biologist and wildlife refuge manager for the state of Georgia, Mr. Minser has been a teacher and researcher in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, at the University of Tennessee since 1972. There he takes part in wildlife research and teaches a variety of wildlife management and land management courses. He has been an active participant with a variety of conservation organizations in Tennessee and the region during the past 40 years (particularly in relationship to conservation of public land). During the past 15 years he has helped acquire or otherwise protect about 400,000 acres in the Tennessee Valley which includes 5 new wildlife management areas and a 300 acre addition to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. In 2008, Mr. Minser received the Regional Director’s Conservation Honors Award from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Michael Parish – Mike Parish is president of FMP Real Estate Services, Inc., a Knoxville based commercial real estate firm specializing in retail, office, industrial and mixed-use development in the Southeastern U. S. He has completed over 3 million square feet in six states. Mike is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He and his wife, Susan Kincaid, have lived in Loudon County for over 30 years.

Rueter-Photo for webKen Rueter – Ken Rueter is the President of UCOR and is the East Tennessee Technology Park’s Cleanup Project Manager. UCOR is the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) cleanup contractor for the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation, primarily focused on cleanup of East Tennessee Technology Park (the former Oak Ridge K-25 Site). UCOR is also engaged in cleanup and waste management activities at other Oak Ridge Reservation sites. Mr. Rueter previously served as Savannah River Remediation LLC President and Savannah River Site Liquid Waste Project Manager. Prior to that, he served as UCOR’s Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Rueter also served as the Director of Project Integration for Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford Site in Washington. Mr. Rueter is also a member of the Legacy Parks Board and the City of Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board.   He has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Cleveland State University.

Matt Smith - Matt Smith is the Land Manager for the Three Sisters Tract in Blount County, TN. He is a Professional Geologist and Geographic Information Systems professional with practical experience in permitting, Matt Smith - imageenvironmental due diligence, wetland delineation, storm water management, field geology, cartography, and construction management. Mr. Smith has work experience at TVA where his focus was the development of habitatmodels in support of Environmental Impact Statements, and as an environmental consultant for a variety of public and private projects in East Tennessee. Mr. Smith received a B.S. in Geology, and an M.S. in Geography from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Mike Suttles – Mr. Suttles is the Director of Surveying for Vision Engineering and Development located in Sevierville, Tennessee. Mr. Suttles received a B.S. from the University of Tennessee in Forest Management and is a registered land surveyor. He is an active member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors and is also a farm and cattle producer.

David A. Zandstra –  Mr. Zandstra is a CFA and the Chief Investment Officer of Meridian Trust & Invesment Company. He joined the Meridian team in 2004 and has 15 years of trust and investment management experience. He oversees the dave-zandstrainvestment process for all investment accounts and serves on Meridian’s Trust Committee. Dave graduated from Calvin College with a degree in business administration and received his MBA from Heriot-Watt University.  He has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the Knoxville Estate Planning Council, the CFA Institute and is an officer of the Knoxville CFA Society.


FLC Staff Bios

Bill Clabough, Executive Director -  Bill Clabough has spent his entire life in Blount County. A graduate of the Blount County School system and UT Knoxville, Bill spent 30 plus years in the retail grocery business in Blount County. In 2004 he was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly, serving 4 years in the Tennessee House and 6 years in the Tennessee Senate. He joined Foothills Land Conservancy in the spring of 2006 as the Executive Director with the charge to take the organization to the next level.  Bill has put together a strong team that is moving Foothills Land Conservancy forward on land protection partnerships, land stewardship and community outreach. He has been involved in all project areas of Foothills. Through the course of overseeing the completion of many successful programs, Bill is always reminded that land protection is our business and our only business!

Meredith Clebsch, Land Director – Meredith Clebsch joined the FLC team in 2007 monitoring conservation easements and preparing baseline documentation reports. Meredith’s formal education includes a BS degree in Animal Science from Clemson University with minors in Horticulture and Wildlife Biology. She also completed a number of graduate and undergraduate level courses at the University of TN in botany, ecology, horticulture and wildlife biology. For 25 years Meredith owned and operated a successful native plant nursery in Greenback, TN, which included consultation and design services involving considerable field work in plant identification and landscapes interpretation. Much of her recreational time is spent outdoors hiking and pursuing nature study.

Elise Eustace, Communications & Development Director – Elise Eustace joined the FLC team in 2009 Elise for Bioand has over 15 years of experience in marketing in sales, client relations, event management, public speaking, and writing. She has a B.A. degree in Communications with a minor in Business from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. Elise currently serves on City of Maryville Tree Board and the Smoky Mountain Planned Giving Council. She was a 2011 graduate of the Experience Your Smokies Program.  She is an avid hiker who enjoys getting acquainted with all area parks and can often be found hiking with the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club. Elise is in her second year as a SMHC Board Member.


Foothills receives J.B. Owen award from KTOS!

Foothills Land Conservancy is honored to be the recipient of the J.B. Owen award by the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society (KTOS).

The Award honors the memory of J.B. Owen, longtime Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS) member known to thousands in East Tennessee through his columns in Knoxville newspapers.  J.B. Owen was an active member of KTOS from 1947 until his death in 2001.  He was awarded the TOS Distinguished Service Award in 1990.  J.B. Owen Awards provide funds for projects that promote the welfare and conservation of birds in Tennessee.

This Award, in the amount of $300.00, is for support of the Conservancy’s important mission to protect and preserve the natural landscape of East Tennessee.  The Conservancy’s mission has significant benefits for the conservation of birds in Tennessee.

BadPlantsAndWhatToDoAboutThem3 – POWER POINT

Image courtesy of McCarter Auction Company

*Reprinted with permission from Friends of the Smokies.

KODAK, TN - SEPTEMBER 13, 2010- Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the successful bidder in a public auction of 20 acres of land surrounded on three sides by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The not-for-profit organization bought the two 10-acre tracts on Saturday, September 11, 2010 for $775,000.

Major funding for the land purchase was made possible from proceeds from Friends’ annual Ogle-Fulmer “Picnic in Pittman for the Park” fundraiser over the last ten years.  The Foothills Land Conservancy also partnered with Friends of the Smokies in the purchase.

“In addition to providing this rare opportunity for the Park to add 20 acres of prime property to its holdings, we also fulfilled our annual Needs List commitment of about $1.5 million to the Park this week,” said Friends of the Smokies President Jim Hart.

For more information about the Friends of the Smokies, please visit their website at https://friendsofthesmokies.org/ or to learn about their Trails Forever program, visit http://smokiestrailsforever.org/.

by Kristine Johnson, Supervisory Forester – GSMNP

Chinese privet - Shrub that can spread easily into native plant communities and displace native vegetationChinese privet

Invasive exotic plants are among the most serious threats to natural areas and biodiversity worldwide. Foothills Land Conservancy supporters and neighbors find additional cause for concern as exotic plant invasions reduce real estate values, facilitate erosion, alter fire regimes, obscure planned landscapes and change wildlife habitat. Late summer and early autumn provide opportunities to survey and control many species of exotic plants, since seed production can often be prevented and some species are more visible as foliage changes colors. Oriental bittersweet, for example, produces bright orange fruits and yellow leaves while some evergreens such as privet and Japanese honeysuckle show up in contrast to brighter fall colors. Because plants translocate photosynthetic products down to roots for storage in the fall, herbicides also travel more efficiently to root systems when applied late in the growing season either as a foliar application or by cutting and stump treating. Proper plant identification and careful surveys to assess control strategy are important first steps in managing exotic plant infestations.

Preventing exotic plants from becoming established is particularly challenging when neighboring lands supply a continuous seed source. While most invasive exotic plant species thrive in disturbed areas such as roadsides and stream corridors, some can also invade intact plant communities and shaded sites. The Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council provides information on native plant alternatives for landscaping and erosion control as well as a prioritized list of invasive plant species to avoid planting. Many weed seeds and viable plant fragments can be transported in straw, wood chip mulch, topsoil and fill, and gravel or sand from quarries. Sources of such materials should be investigated carefully and development sites monitored for new infestations. Coltsfoot, garlic mustard, microstegium and Johnson grass are good examples: fields consisting almost entirely of Johnson grass in seed are often harvested for hay, and fragments of coltsfoot a few inches long can become new, flowering plants growing out of gravel in three weeks.  Seeds can also travel in soil carried along by muddy boots and vehicle tires.

Educating neighbors and working cooperatively to manage infestations helps achieve success as well as building a sense of community and stewardship. Information on plant identification and exotic plant management can be found at websites for the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council (www.tneppc.org) and University of Tennessee Herbarium http://tenn.bio.utk.edu.

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