Southeast Projects

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

OSI Conservation Projects in Southeast

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ALABAMA

Jacobs Mountain, TN David Ray

Jacobs Mountain, Jackson County

Located adjacent to the ecologically-rich Paint Rock River in northern Alabama, the forests of Jacobs Mountain are a critical part of protecting water quality and providing habitat for myriad species of wildlife.  In December 2012, The Nature Conservancy purchased 11,364 acres covering nearly the entire mountain. OSI’s $559,000 grant from the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund was the critical last piece needed to complete this $9.5 million project.This large forested property is adjacent to over 50,000 acres of public land, and will be managed by the State, in part for hunting and in part under Alabama’s Forever Wild Land Trust. Over 60 cave entrances dot the property, demonstrating the significant cave and underground water resources that are also protected by this transaction.

Paint Rock, Gully Track
Hancock Tract,  Chilton County

In 2014, OSI made a $2.18 million loan to enable The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to acquire several critical inholdings, totaling 1,419 acres, in the Talladega National Forest— Oakmulgee District. TNC and the US Forest Service will work to remove loblolly pine and restore these tracts to native longleaf pine forest. This Forest Service district contains Alabama’s largest known population of endangered red cockaded woodpeckers, which are dependent on longleaf pine ecosystem. TNC will transfer the properties to the Forest Service as federal funds become available.

Gully Family Tract

Land that has long been a conservation priority in northeastern Alabama is now successfully conserved thanks to grants from both the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund and the Southeast Resilient Landscape Fund. In 2015 The Nature Conservancy partnered with the Gully Family to permanently protect 860 acres in the Paint Rock River Watershed. Featuring rugged terrain and healthy hardwood forests, the land plays important roles in the face of a changing climate as both a haven for the region’s rich array of wildlife and as a maintainer of high water quality.

GEORGIA

Fort Stewart Woods Tract

Fort Stewart Tract, Savannah
 In October 2007, OSI made a $650,000 loan to the Georgia Land Trust, Inc. (GLT) for the acquisition of the Ft. Stewart Tract, a 201-acre parcel that lies adjacent to the Fort Stewart US Army base. GLT is working with Fort Stewart and the Georgia Forestry Commission, as well as others, to restore the tract to a longleaf pine ecosystem on the uplands and bottomland hardwoods in the low areas.  The land is situated near a mature longleaf pine stand on Fort Stewart that contains a number of colonies of the federally endangered red cockaded woodpecker. Upon the completion of a longleaf pine restoration program, the Ft. Stewart Tract will provide additional habitat for this species as well as an assortment of other wildlife adapted to the longleaf pine ecosystem. Similarly, when it has been re-establised, the bottomland hardwood area will provide vital habitat for a variety of invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles as well as migratory birds.

Little Creek Georgia

Georgia Land Trust Endowment  

Through two grants from the Northwest Georgian Land Protection Fund, OSI helped the Georgia Land Trust in the protection of approximately 2,000 acres of high priority habitat. OSI provided essential funding for permanent conservation easements on a series of critical properties. These lands provide varying forest types, including habitat for migratory birds including the Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, and Yellow-Throated Warbler.

Camp Lookout trail web

Camp Lookout, Walker County  

OSI made a loan and a grant from its Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund  to the Georgia Land Trustfor the purchase of the Camp Lookout property.  The 82-acre parcel, located on top of Lookout Mountain, provides a needed buffer to the Lula Lake Cloudland Canyon Connector Trail. This acquisition fills a critical gap by adding to the core protected property in a 3,000-acre project area.  The Camp Lookout Project, which protects the Rock Creek and Bear Creek watersheds, is considered a high-priority for protection under the Georgia State Wildlife Action Plan The almost completely forested property will be maintained in its current state after some modest restoration work and will function alongside other protected properties to maintain wildlife habitat, to protect water quality in the nearby streams, and to buffer the nearby recreation trail.


McLemore Cove
McLemore Cove, Walker County

In October 2008, OSI’s Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund made a $750,000 grant to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR) to support the acquisition and permanent protection of the McLemore Cove tract. The 1,839-acre property is comprised of sloped wooded areas, lower valley-floor pasture lands, and prime wildlife habitat. The wooded portions are identified as high-priority conservation opportunity areas under the Georgia State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) and include the headwaters and tributaries of Hogjowl Creek. This propertywill link the 1,400-acre Zahnd State Natural Area to the Crockford-Pigeon Wildlife Management Area. The tract is accessible to the public and provides various recreational amenities such as camping, hiking, cycling, caving, hunting, and fishing.


Camp Adahi lake

Camp Adahi, Walker County

The 740-acre Camp Adahi is situated on top of Lookout Mountain, a high-priority area under the Georgia State Wildlife Action Plan because of its rich biological diversity and high-quality streams that are headwaters of the pristine Little River. In October 2008, OSI’s Northwest Georgia Protection Fund granted the Lookout Mountain Conservancy $241,000 to help fund the purchase of a conservation easement from the Moccasin Bend Council of the Girl Scouts of America. The majority of the property is forested and undeveloped with about 100 acres available for primitive camping, hiking, and horseback riding.

 

Large Tupelo Gum Tree, Altamaha River Altamaha River, Long and McIntosh Counties

In August 2009, the Open Space Institute made a $4 million  loan to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) that enabled TNC and the Georgia Land Conservation Program (GLCP) to protect several miles of land adjacent to the Altamaha River in southeastern Georgia. Using the loan, along with additional funding from the GLCP, TNC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources acquired the 7,180-acre parcel and will manage it as part of the Townsend Wildlife Management Area. TNC has protected more than 89,000 acres along the Altamaha which contains a variety of habitats included in Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan; freshwater wetlands, tupelo swamps, intertidal forest and longleaf pine forest.

Little River Georgia TNCThe Little River, Walker County
The Little River Watershed Project covers 576 acres on Lookout Mountain. In May 2009, The Open Space Institute granted $430,000 from the Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund to The Nature Conservancy to secure conservation easements on these lands. This assemblage of largely wooded properties includes high-quality streams that form the headwaters of the pristine Little River. The Georgia State Wildlife Action Plan has declared this land a high-priority area for acquisition. Hardwood forests and pine-oak woodlands comprise much of the landscape which is dotted with unique geologic features such as caves, rock faces, and sandstone shelves. This distinctive environment boasts 34 plants, 14 animals, and 6 habitats listed as rare and significant, including multiple species of uncommon salamanders. The tract lies at the core of 22,000 contiguous acres of protected wildlife habitat that includes the Zahnd State Natural Area and Crockford-Pigeon Wildlife Management Area. 


Pidgeon RIdge GA

Pigeon Mountain, Walker County

In March of 2014, the Open Space Institute provided a $53,050 grant through the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund that enabled the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to purchase the 343-acre Southern Timber tract at Pigeon Mountain in northwest Georgia. The property provides access to the northern end of the 20,650-acre Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The limestone of the Pigeon Mountain region of Georgia has created lush and brilliant limestone forests, habitat for rare cave-dwelling salamanders and bats, and one of the most diverse and spectacular assortments of wildflowers seen anywhere in North America. Pigeon Mountain is designated a State Natural Heritage Site, attracts nearly 125,000 visitors annually, and generates about $1.5 million in local revenue from hunting, caving, and other recreation and tourism activities 

NORTH CAROLINA

View to Rumbling BaldWorld's Edge, Rutherford County

Located in western North Carolina, the 1,568-acre World’s Edge tract was purchased jointly by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). This parcel, which boasts spectacular views and unique geological features, is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in the region. The land was recently transferred to the state, which will manage it as part of Chimney Rock State Park, in effect tripling the size of the park. Despite its name, the World’s Edge is commutable from 3 major cities, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Knoxville, all of which are growing rapidly and experiencing significant pressure from second home development.

OSI’s loan of $3 million towards the $16 million project was the first from the Southern Appalachian Loan Fund established in 2005. OSI created the loan fund to help finance transactions that protect ecologically significant landscapes in western North and South Carolina, northern Alabama and Georgia, and eastern Tennessee. The loan fund was created in response to OSI’s study Southern Appalachian Conservation Assessment

McCraw Family
McCraw Tract, Rutherford County

The 271-acre McCraw tract sits atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment near Lake Lure, 15 miles southeast of Asheville, NC. The State of North Carolina purchased 161 acres from the McCraw family for inclusion in the new Chimney Rock State Park; the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy purchased an additional 110 acres for transfer to the State for the park. OSI made a $1.9 million loan from the Southern Appalachian Loan Fund to bridge public funding.. The McCraw tract adjoins and lies immediately below the overlook on the World's Edge parcel, which was purchased jointly by CMLC and TNC of North Carolina with assistance from OSI in 2005. The acquisition of these tracts protects habitat for numerous rare and endangered species; provide recreational opportunities; and preserve spectacular panoramic views of the Piedmont. The area is under intensifying development pressure from construction of second homes, resorts and golf courses.

Flint Powdermill Tract

Powdermill Creek, Avery County

In October 2007, OSI made a $1 million loan to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) for acquisition of the Powdermill Creek tract. The purchase of this 434-acre property eliminates the threat of residential development and protects the area’s biological, scenic and watershed values.

The land, located in the Highlands of Roan, is near the Appalachian Trail and the Pisgah National Forest and includes a high altitude ridge over 5,000 feet in elevation. The Roan eco-region has been designated nationally significant by the State Natural Heritage Programs in both North Carolina and Tennessee. The Powdermill property contains 1.4 miles of Powdermill Creek, a headwater source of the North Toe and Nolichucky Rivers.

View of the Rose Creek Property, NC
Rose Creek, Mitchell County

In December 2008, the Open Space Institute, made a $4.215 million loan to the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) for the 543-acre Rose Creek project, which protects important conservation lands bordering the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway.  The property, also contains approximately 1.5 miles of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. This $6.5 million project protects over 5 miles of the Rose and Little Rose creeks which strongly advances the North Carolina State Wildlife Action Plan. Because of this high level of conservation, the Rose Creek project has been awarded an acquisition grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

 

The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee
Western North Carolina

In July 2009, the Open Space Institute awarded a $500,000 grant to The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT) to assist in their efforts to protect wildlife habitat in western North Carolina. This grant was made possible by the Southern Appalachian Land Protection Fund created by the Lyndhurst Foundation and OSI in 2005. The LTLT strives to conserve the waters, forests, farms, and heritage of the upper Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River Valleys by working to preserve land and promote ecological integrity. These funds will ensure the long-term financial stability of LTLT and its ability to continue implementing North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan projects. LTLT became eligible for this grant by completing a forever wild conservation easement on a 713-acre tract in the snowbird mountain range in Graham County, North Carolina. 

Little Yellow Mountain photo by John Warner

Little Yellow Mountain, Avery and Mitchell Counties

The Open Space Institute assisted The Nature Conservancy (TNC) with a $1.2 million loan from the Southern Appalachians Land Protection Fund, to protect a significant peak that reinforces a prime wildlife habitat corridor in the Southern Appalachians of western North Carolina.

TNC’s acquisition of 466 acres at the summit of Little Yellow Mountain is a valuable addition to a large pocket of protected land in the Greater Roan Highlands, much of which is classified as nationally significant by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. At 5,504 feet, Little Yellow is one of the higher peaks in the Southern Appalachians. It has also been designated as part of the Audubon Society’s Roan Mountain Important Bird Area (IBA). Species include the Canada warbler, the chestnut-sided warbler, the blackburnian warbler and the scarlet tanager. The Roan IBA is also noted for fall broad-winged hawk migration.

Grassy Ridge, NC, LoanGrassy Ridge Connector, Avery County

The Open Space Institute provided a $1.65 million loan to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) to purchase the 600-acre Grassy Ridge property in western North Carolina. For decades, this tract has been among the highest conservation priorities in the Highlands of Roan, one of the most scenic and ecologically-rich landscapes in the Southern Appalachians. The property connects Pisgah National Forest, at 6,000 foot Grassy Ridge, with State lands on 5,500 foot Little Yellow Mountain. The transaction preserves highly significant wildlife habitat that is home to two federally endangered plant species, the origin of 25 headwater streams flowing into the wild trout waters of Roaring Creek, and makes possible a trail connection between  Little Yellow Mountain and the Appalachian Trail.

Bluff Mountain, Ashe County

In June of 2014, the Open Space Institute loaned $2,557,991 to The Nature Conservancy to protect the 715 acre Bluff Mountain tract. Bluff Mountain contains one of the largest and most significant concentrations of rare plant species and natural community types in the Southern Appalachian region. It includes old growth forests, the world’s only known Southern Appalachian Fen community, and the state’s only example of a High Elevation Mafic Glade community. The property supports at least 48 rare plant species, several of which are federally listed and are the only populations in the state. TNC added the property to the adjacent 2,142 acre Bluff Mountain Preserve.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway, Pickens County

Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway, Pickens County  

In June of 2012, the Open Space Institute loaned $1,483,802 to Naturaland Trust to secure the 295 acre Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway tracts. The properties are entirely forested and adjoin other important conservation lands held by the Nature Conservancy and the state of South Carolina. These properties are some of the most important properties in the mountains of South Carolina for their scenic and recreational uses. OSI’s loan enabled Naturaland Trust to move forward with acquisition and a conservation easement prior to the availability of a grant from the Federal Highway Administration/South Carolina DOT’s National Scenic Byways Program.  

Nine Times Forest photo Mac Stone Southern Apps

Nine Times Tract, Pickens County

In December of 2013, the Open Space Institute provided a $1.9 million loan to enable Naturaland Trust to acquire the 1,648 Nine Times tract in upstate South Carolina. An ecological jewel, the property contains three mountains of stunning granite outcroppings as well as streams, creeks and stands of hardwoods.  Located in close proximity to Jocassee Gorges, the tract also provides exceptional habitat for bear and other wildlife. Funding for the $3.5 million purchase came from Fred and Alice Stanback, Duke Energy, U.S Forest Service and the South Carolina Conservation Bank. OSI's loan was necessary to bridge the funding from the Conservation Bank and the Forest Service, as those funds were not available at the time of closing.

Fairlawn OSI, TNC and Forest Service

Fairlawn, Francis Marion National Forest
Charleston County

After protecting more than 120,000 acres in New York State and assisting in the protection of 2.2 million additional acres from Canada to Georgia in 2014, the Open Space Institute completed its first acquisition outside of New York. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, OSI acquired two tracts consisting of more than 2,200 acres in the heart of the Francis Marion National Forest outside of Charleston, S.C. The transaction was funded by Boeing, one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, in conjunction with its planned expansion in North Charleston. Together, these acquisitions represent one of the largest private conservation investments in the Francis Marion National Forest and surrounding region. The acquisitions accomplish conservation goals of regional and national significance and substantially increase public lands, as well as the protection of land, water quality and rare, threatened and endangered wildlife species.


The two tracts are surrounded by the 258,864-acre Francis Marion National Forest, and have been a top protection priority of the U.S. Forest Service for over a decade. OSI and TNC will co-own and manage the properties for up to five years and then transfer them to the Forest Service for long-term management. These ecologically important private properties they provide important connectors for wildlife. Protecting these lands and avoiding inappropriate development, helps ensure that the Forest Service and other conservation-minded landowners can continue to use controlled burning – the single most important management tool for wildlife and natural diversity in this region.

TENNESSEE

Sherwood Forest
Franklin County, TN
With support from the Open Space Institute (OSI), The Land Trust for Tennessee (LTTN) and The Conservation Fund (TCF) conveyed 4,062 acres to the State of Tennessee in November, 2016. The Sherwood Forest acquisition in the southern Cumberlands added property to both Franklin State Forest and the South Cumberland State Park. The property provides crucial habitat to many rare and endemic species. One species, the painted snake-coiled forest snail, is only known to live in Franklin County, TN. Protection of Sherwood Forest protects more than 40% of the snail’s known habitat. A truly collaborative effort, LTTN and TCF teamed up to complete this complex transaction that involved federal, state, and local agencies and funders. This highly resilient property that is rich with biodiversity, recreational opportunities, and archaeological significance has been a conservation priority for more than a decade. Not only will the property be protected as a State Natural Area, it will be opened for the public to enjoy. OSI supported the project through both the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund and the Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund.

Dog Cove
White County, TN

The Open Space institute partnered with The Land Trust for Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation to permanently protect Dog Cove in White County, Tennessee in November, 2016. The Dog Cove acquisition protects 680 acres that have been incorporated into Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park. Not only is Dog Cove an exceptional property on the surface, but it overlays an extensive underground network of caves with at least 5 entrances on the property. This resilient property lies at the northwestern edge of 60,000-acre area of state-and privately-protected forestlands that include private conservation easements, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Lost Creek State Natural Area, Virgin Falls State Natural Area, and the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness. OSI provided funding for the acquisition through both the Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund and the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund.

Mid Cumberlands
White & Van Buren Counties, TN

In July, 2017, The Land Trust for Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Open Space Institute partnered to acquire more than 2,600 acres to incorporate into the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness in White and Van Buren Counties in Tennessee. The rugged and scenic property adds to more than in the heart of 60,000 acres of contiguous publically and privately protected property that will prove to be a natural stronghold for generations to come. The resilient properties provide high quality wildlife habitat and will be open to the public. OSI helped to fund the acquisition through the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund.

Denny Cove
Marion County, TN

The Access Fund, Southeastern Climbers Coalition, The Conservation Fund, and The Land Trust for Tennessee successfully acquired and transferred 685 acres of highly resilient land to the State of Tennessee with support from OSI’s Southern Cumberland Land Protection and Southeast Resilient Landscapes Funds. Denny Cove, which consists of an entire cove in the Southern Cumberlands, is a new addition to the South Cumberland State Park in Tennessee. Not only is Denny Cove known for its ecological significance, but also unique recreational opportunities. Denny Cove contains more than one mile of sandstone cliff line that is known for high quality climbing routes, has many options for hiking, and provides stunning views of Denny Cove, Gizzard Cove and Robinson Cove. Denny Cove is very close to both the Fiery Gizzard and Foster Falls, two other recreational areas managed by the State Park.

 

Tunnel Hill Tennessee

In September 2016, The Land Trust for Tennessee (LTTN), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and the Open Space Institute (OSI) teamed up to conserve the 411-acre Tunnel Hill property in in Franklin County, Tennessee. This important property was the single remaining piece to make a connection between Bear Hollow Mountain North Wildlife Management Area and Hawkins Cove State Natural Area, resulting in more than 9,300 acres of contiguous protected land. Tunnel Hill, which has been incorporated into Bear Hollow Mountain North Wildlife Management Area, is in the Southern Cumberlands. The Cumberland Plateau is the longest hardwood-forested plateau in the world and is home to many endemic, threatened and endangered species. For this transaction, OSI provided LTTN with a short term bridge loan and grants from both the Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund and from the South Cumberland Land Protection Fund. This funding was crucial for LTTN to be able to purchase the property and transfer it to TWRA. Permanent protection of this property allows wildlife and recreationists to take full advantage of this connected, resilient landscape.

 

Sherwood Forest
With support from the Open Space Institute, The Land Trust for Tennessee (LTTN) and The Conservation Fund (TCF) conveyed 4,062 acres to the State of Tennessee in November, 2016. The Sherwood Forest acquisition in the southern Cumberlands added property to both Franklin State Forest and the South Cumberland State Park. The property provides crucial habitat to many rare and endemic species. One species, the painted snake-coiled forest snail, is only known to live in Franklin County, TN. Protection of Sherwood Forest protects more than 40% of the snail’s known habitat. A truly collaborative effort, LTTN and TCF teamed up to complete this complex transaction that involved federal, state, and local agencies and funders. This highly resilient property that is rich with biodiversity, recreational opportunities, and archaeological significance has been a conservation priority for more than a decade. Not only will the property be protected as a State Natural Area, it will be opened for the public to enjoy. OSI supported the project through both the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund and the Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund.

Dog Cove, TennDog Cove
The Open Space institute partnered with The Land Trust for Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation to permanently protect Dog Cove in White County, Tennessee in November, 2016. The Dog Cove acquisition protects 680 acres that have been incorporated into Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park. Not only is Dog Cove an exceptional property on the surface, but it overlays an extensive underground network of caves with at least 5 entrances on the property. This resilient property lies at the northwestern edge of 60,000 acre area of state- and privately-protected forestlands that include private conservation easements, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Lost Creek State Natural Area, Virgin Falls State Natural Area, and the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness. OSI provided funding for the acquisition through both the Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund and the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund.

Welch Point, Tennessee Chuck SutherlandWelch Point (Chuck Sutherland)      

Mid Cumberlands
In July, 2017, The Land Trust for Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Open Space Institute partnered to acquire more than 2,600 acres to incorporate into the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness in White and Van Buren Counties in Tennessee. The rugged and scenic property adds to more than in the heart of 60,000 acres of contiguous publically and privately protected property that will prove to be a natural stronghold for generations to come. The resilient properties provide high quality wildlife habitat and will be open to the public. OSI helped to fund the acquisition through the Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund.

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