The Tennessee Nature Conservancy has transferred a sizable Cumberland Plateau tract to the state as protected public land.
Initial efforts were to purchase the entire 14,000-acre property in Franklin County in the early 2000s, but the non-profit, along with the Conservation Fund, was only able to acquire around a third of it in a deal that closed in late 2016. A timber company based in Mobile, Alabama, owned it at the time. Since then, the land had been in possession of RLF Winchester Properties LLC.
Gabby Lynch, Director of Protection at the Tennessee Nature Conservancy, says the tract's significance lies in its tributaries flowing into the Paint Rock River in northern Alabama and the endangered species that inhabit the area.
“Everything that we can do in the headwaters of the Paint Rock River in Tennessee can help those very endangered species and the water quality of the river systems down south in Alabama," she said.
The property is also inhabited by several rare species including the Tennessee Cave Salamander and Morefield’s Leather-flower.
The tract will be managed by the state and is expected to remain open, wild land with general access for hunters and hikers. There are no plans for the land to undergo any further development.