Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture Helps Priority Birds in Tennessee

Video of the Cerulean Warbler is available. Photo: Bill Hubick
Video of the Cerulean Warbler is available. Photo: Bill Hubick

Bird conservation in the Appalachian Mountains received a big boost recently with the completion of a significant conservation acquisition in east Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. The newly-acquired lands include over 120,000 acres of hardwood forest, rugged mountains, and pristine streams spread over three different areas. These forests link to an additional 66,000 acres of public lands, creating a total of 300 square miles of protected habitat for birds and wildlife.

 

The acquisition was arranged by the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV), a regional public-private partnership. “This is a huge victory for the AMJV partnership, migratory and resident birds in the area, and for the state of Tennessee,” said American Bird Conservancy’s Brian Smith, the AMJV Coordinator. “This area has been identified as one of the major centers for Cerulean Warblers, and a key area for Golden-winged Warblers in the southern Appalachians. Permanent habitat protection, along with a long-term opportunity to manage habitats and monitor populations for these species, is going to be vital to their conservation. I commend Governor Bredesen and the partners involved in this acquisition for their conservation vision.”

 

Partners in the land protection plan included the State of Tennessee, The Nature Conservancy, Lyme Timber Company, and Conservation Forestry LLC. The partners employed a combination of land purchases, working forest agreements, and conservation easements to protect these new properties. “This is an important project for wildlife conservation in the state of Tennessee, and we could never have pulled it off without the help of our partners, especially The Nature Conservancy and the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation”, said Greg Wathen, Chief of Wildlife for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

 

Besides protecting birds and habitats, these lands will also stay open to the public for hunting, hiking, and fishing. Newly negotiated conservation easements will govern sustainable forestry practices, and continue to ensure economic benefits for surrounding communities as working forests. The AMJV plans to facilitate similar land acquisition projects throughout the region in the future.