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Nashville Couple Conserves Over 200 Acres Along Whites Creek in East Tennessee

Nashville Couple Conserves Over 200 Acres Along Whites Creek in East Tennessee

230 acres of forestland on Whites Creek along the Cumberland Plateau are now protected forever by a conservation easement by Glenn & Holland McConnell, TennGreen Land Conservancy, and the Open Space Institute.

TENNESSEE (September 7, 2023)— TennGreen Land Conservancy announced today the protection of an additional 115 acres along Whites Creek in Rhea County. Glenn & Holland McConnell, Nashville, partnered with environmental nonprofits TennGreen Land Conservancy and the Open Space Institute (OSI) to expand an existing conservation easement on their land and protect the species-rich waters and forests for future generations. The amended conservation easement now protects more than 200 acres in total and nearly two miles of frontage along Whites Creek.

Located along the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau, Whites Creek is an outstanding scenic river positioned within a steep gorge and is home to rare fish and wildlife. One species found in its waters is the uncommon Tennessee dace (Chrosomus tennesseensis). The Tennessee dace, and many other native species, rely on connected corridors of land and undisturbed habitat to survive and adapt to environmental changes. Intentional conservation, like protecting land through conservation easements, is critical to help them withstand and recover from disturbances, natural disasters, and the effects of climate change.

The protected property is also home to many Eastern hemlock trees (Tsuga canadensis), which are rapidly in decline due to the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae).

Since 2011, TennGreen Land Conservancy has worked closely with landowners to protect more than 900 acres along Whites Creek with conservation easements. This most recent conservation success was made possible through the McConnell’s generosity and funding from OSI’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund, which catalyzes land protection along the Appalachian Mountain range — an area that is home to the world’s largest broadleaf forest, stores most of the nation’s forest carbon, and provides essential refuge for plants and animals at risk of habitat loss from climate change.  The Fund is made possible thanks to major support from the Doris Duke Foundation and additional funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation, Riverview Foundation, Footprint Foundation, the McKee Family and other private foundations.

“This conservation achievement is a perfect example of the Open Space Institute’s long-term efforts to protect the fragile forests and wildlife of the Appalachians in the face of a changing climate,” said Joel Houser, OSI’s Director of Capital Grants. “We thank TennGreen Land Conservancy for their committed efforts to see this land protected, forever.”

Conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements that protect the conservation values of a property in perpetuity. This conservation easement allows the McConnells to continue to enjoy their land recreationally, and sell or pass it down to their heirs, while permanently limiting certain uses such as development, timber harvest, and mineral extraction. The easement will run with the land in perpetuity, meaning that any future landowner must adhere to the restrictions. Each year, TennGreen staff will visit and monitor the property to ensure that the easement’s terms are being upheld.

Conservation easements are one of the strongest tools that private landowners have for protecting their land while maintaining them in private ownership. The restrictions that protect the environmental resources on the property are tailorable to best accommodate each property’s unique attributes and each landowner’s vision.

For more information about this project or conservation easements, visit, call (615) 329-4441 ext. 120, or email

About TennGreen Land Conservancy

TennGreen Land Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) environmental nonprofit and the oldest accredited statewide land conservancy in Tennessee. TennGreen’s mission is to conserve land where people and nature can thrive. Through sound science and partnerships, TennGreen identifies and conserves land across Tennessee for wildlife corridors, critical habitat, and public benefit. TennGreen protects, cares for, and connects people with Tennessee’s natural world by providing meaningful outdoor experiences, establishing conservation easements, supporting restoration efforts, and acquiring (or assisting in the acquisition of) privately held land.

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