Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Over 6,000 Acres Added to Cumberland Trail State Park

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), in partnership with The Conservation Fund, TennGreen, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently announced the addition of 6,229 acres to the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park.

The land – known as the Lone Star property – will support wildlife habitat, native ecology and additional public recreation opportunities.

Conserving Lone Star was a high priority for the Tennessee State Parks system due to its proximity to the Cumberland Trail. The Conservation Fund purchased the land in November 2019 and held it until TDEC and its partners could acquire it. The land was officially transferred on February 20, 2020, to TDEC, which will use it to develop a significant segment for the Cumberland Trail that will connect Ozone Falls State Natural Area to existing state owned land.

When completed, the Cumberland Trail will extend more than 300 miles from its northern terminus in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park to its southern terminus at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park just outside Chattanooga.

“The Cumberland Trail is an example of what makes Tennessee such an international attraction,” Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, whose district includes Cumberland, Van Buren and Putnam counties, said. “This acquisition will be an outstanding addition to link our Cumberland trails and foster an extensive trail system that promotes hiking while also preserving our valuable natural resources.”

The state’s purchase of Lone Star was possible with the State’s Land Acquisition Fund, the National Park Service's State and Local Assistance Program which is funded by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program (also known as Pittman-Robertson). The U.S. congressional delegation representing Lone Star includes U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, and U.S. Rep. John W. Rose.

The Cumberland Trail’s scenic footpath follows a line of high ridges and deep gorges along or near the rugged, eastern edge of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. The trail offers a unique wilderness experience and many scenic views, including waterfalls, landscapes, gorges, wildlife, and diverse flora.

The Justin P. Wilson Cumberland State Park became Tennessee’s 53rd state park in 1998. It’s the state’s first “linear park,” cutting through 11 counties and two time zones. The Cumberland Trail includes more than 31,500 acres and intersects three National Park Service areas, three wildlife management areas, and six state natural areas, totaling over 330,000 acres of public lands. The 6,229-acre Lone Star addition ranks high in the State Wildlife Action Plan for terrestrial habitat. It contains approximately 22.5 miles of streams and threatened species such as the Allegheny woodrat.

This effort has received tremendous support from the local community, including a generous grant from the Cumberland Trails Conference and a major fundraising effort led by TennGreen that secured donations from hundreds of individuals totaling roughly $160,000.


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