East Tennesseans Donate 25,000 Acres in 25 Years
The beauty, heritage, and people of East Tennessee are truly one of a kind. Stretching through the band of counties that extends from the Cumberland Plateau to the Appalachian Mountains - this diverse landscape has been enjoyed by generations of families. Their commitment to preserving family heritage has enabled the Foothills Land Conservancy to protect 25,000 acres of land in 25 years.
By protecting their working farms, woodlands and watersheds, they are preserving the rich wildlife habitats, and the agriculture, scenic, and cultural resources of the region.
"We're talking about land that provides for rare and migratory wildlife, that offers views of the Smokies and adjacent foothills, that harbors 150 year old trees and streams where the re-introduction of trout has taken place. These places are unique to our region and help us hold on to our rural character," said Executive Director Bill Clabough.
East Tennessean Gail Harris is no stranger to conservation or to the Foothills Land Conservancy. Harris served on the board during the organization’s development, and in 2002, she and her late husband, Jim, partnered with the conservancy to donate a 105-acre tract in Blount County. And now, she has decided to donate her 317-acre working farm. The property boasts a cave, old tobacco barn, a dairy farm, as well as row crops, wildflowers and 100+ year old beech and oak trees.
“This is something I can do to preserve my land…to be a good steward of what I have been given. Conservation easements allow a land owner to provide lasting contributions to the community,” said Harris.
Blount County residents Charles Lundsford and his two sons, William and Wesley, also want to preserve their 500-acre property— for future generations and in memory of the family members who worked the farm before them.
Harris and the Lundsfords are only two of the 60 individuals and families that have committed to conservation and preserved their land in perpetuity with the Foothills Land Conservancy, which stewards 70 easements.
Published June 2010
Photo by Elise Eustace, Foothills Land Conservancy