SPENCER, Tenn. (WATE) — Over 800 acres were added to Fall Creek Falls State Park, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced on Thursday.
TDEC says the park is one of the largest and most visited state parks in Tennessee, already encompassing over 29,800 acres on the Cumberland Plateau before the 838-acre acquisition. The land was acquired through a purchase arranged by multiple partners, extending the conservation footprint in the region, according to the news release.
The property acquired shares nearly a mile of the border with the park, containing steep bluffs, rock houses and caves. These environments provide habitats for species threatened by climate change. In the property, there are five miles of streams, and some of the headwaters for numerous nearby caves. According to TDEC, the land also serves as a buffer area that protects several known Indian bats and other rare species.
”The Open Space Institute is proud of its role in expanding Fall Creek Falls State Park, and its efforts to secure the fragile forests that are so important to all of us in the state of Tennessee,” said Joel Houser, southeast field coordinator for Open Space Institute. “We thank TennGreen Land Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee, The Conservation Fund, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for their outstanding efforts to protect this property, forever.”
The release added that Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency scientists documented the threatened tricolor bat during a visit to a cave on the property.
“This is a magnificent addition to this popular state park,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greer Tidwell. “We are grateful to the partners who put this acquisition together. They serve Tennesseans in outstanding ways, and we look forward to park visitors enjoying this expanded boundary of the park.”
“Fall Creek Falls State Park, and public land in general, is a huge driver of Tennessee’s recreation economy,” said Ralph Knoll, Tennessee state director at The Conservation Fund. “This addition of state park land is a perfect example of how environmental protections and economic sustainability can go hand in hand, and how partnerships can make it happen.”
The land acquisition was made possible through collaboration between TennGreen Land Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee and The Conservation Fund.
The acquisition of the land was funded through the Open Space Institute’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund and the Lyndhurst Foundation. The fund is used to support land protection along the Appalachian Mountain Range.
This was possible through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation, Riverview Foundation, Footprint Foundation and the McKee family from Collegedale.