New deal expands conserved property in Cumberland Plateau

September 28, 2021 GMT

JAMESTOWN, Tenn. (AP) — A nonprofit organization and two Tennessee state agencies have expanded protection of conserved property in the Cumberland Plateau by more than 11,700 acres (4,734 hectares).

The Conservation Fund, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced the expansion, completing an effort to conserve more than 14,700 acres (5,948 hectares) in the plateau.

The new property is adjacent to the state’s Skinner Mountain Wildlife Management Area and will remain privately owned, the parties said in a news release. The addition will expand recreational access at Skinner Mountain WMA, protect vulnerable wildlife habitat and support local timber jobs, the release said.

The area contains gorges, cliffs and waterfalls near the East Fork Obey River and provides habitat for endangered and threatened species of mussels, migratory songbirds and plants, the release said.

The expansion fully conserves more than 50 caves, including the state’s fifth longest. The caves provide winter habitat for Tennessee’s most endangered mammal, the Indiana bat, and six additional species of concern, the release said.