Join TennGreen Land Conservancy and Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning in a campaign to purchase and transfer 160 acres of forested bluff lands to the National Park Service.
Earlier this year, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning (TCWP) alerted TennGreen Land Conservancy to a property for sale containing the largest privately held inholding along the Clear Creek section of the Obed Wild & Scenic River National Park. Although a portion of the land is within the formal congressional Park boundary, the land was still in private ownership.
National Parks cannot buy land outside of the boundary, so TennGreen stepped in to purchase the entire property with the intention to sell the boundary section to the National Park Service (NPS) and donate the remainder of the forests to NPS to protect the viewshed and the forest quality. Restrictions to protect the conservation values of the lands will be placed on the properties before conveying them to NPS.
Once the property is purchased from the current owners, TennGreen will divide the property into three sections: the land within the NPS jurisdictional boundary, the forested tract adjacent to but outside the boundary, and the field and home site. TennGreen will place restrictions on the land being transferred to NPS to protect the water and wildlife habitat that it hosts.
The south section (67 acres) within the boundary will be sold at appraised value to the NPS to expand the park. We estimate this may take one year to process.
Once the new park land is in NPS ownership, TennGreen will donate the remaining forested tracts (93 acres) to NPS. The Park is not allowed to purchase these lands as they are not within the Park boundary, but they can accept a donation of land. The field and home site will be sold to a private entity through the open market at appraised value.
Without this process, this inholding would be sold to a private buyer on the open market, and the acquisition of the property would be delayed indefinitely and perhaps permanently.
WHY THIS LAND
This land is along exceptional Clear Creek, an area beloved by paddlers. Superintendent Niki Nicholas, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, and Obed Wild & Scenic River described Clear Creek along the tract as “arguably the most popular river run in the park.” The land lies along the Barnett Bridge to Jett Bridge run.
Designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2017 due to the park’s exceptional night sky conditions and commitment to preserving the dark sky, land protection along the Obed Wild & Scenic River is important to limit potential light pollution. If sold to a private developer, structures could be built along the riverbank or canyon rim—risking the sense of wildness.
Acquiring the land is also critical for the protection of sensitive and threatened resources, including numerous archeological sites and federally listed plant and animal species located on or adjacent to the property.
Numerous rare species have been documented in Clear Creek downstream of the property. These include the endangered hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), threatened spotfin chub (Ermonax monachus), and deemed in need of management tangerine darter (Percina aurantiaca). The threatened Cumberland rosemary (Conradina verticillata) has been documented along the Clear Creek border of the property.