Nonprofits Launch Campaign to Protect Clear Creek and Expand Obed Wild & Scenic River National Park
TennGreen Land Conservancy and Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning call for support in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase and transfer 160 acres of forested bluﬀ lands to the National Park Service.
TENNESSEE (August 22, 2023)— TennGreen Land Conservancy and Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning (TCWP) need urgent assistance to purchase the largest privately held inholding along the Clear Creek section of the Obed Wild & Scenic River National Park. Though a portion of this land is within the formal congressional Park boundary, it’s still in private ownership. The National Park Service (NPS) cannot buy land outside of the boundary, but it can accept a land donation. If TennGreen Land Conservancy and TCWP can raise $565,560* by November, TennGreen can step in to purchase, protect, and transfer the property to NPS.
Once TennGreen Land Conservancy purchases the land, it will divide the property into three sections: the land within the NPS jurisdictional boundary, the forested tract adjacent to but outside the boundary, and the field and home site. TennGreen will place restrictions on the land being transferred to NPS to protect the water and wildlife habitat that it hosts.
The south section (67 acres) within the boundary will be sold at appraised value to NPS to expand the Park. Once the new park land is in NPS ownership, TennGreen Land Conservancy will donate the remaining forested tracts (93 acres) to NPS. The field and home site will be sold to a private entity through the open market at appraised value.
Without this process, this inholding would be sold to a private buyer on the open market, and the acquisition of the property would be delayed indefinitely and perhaps permanently.
This land is along exceptional Clear Creek, an area beloved by paddlers. Superintendent Niki Nicholas, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area and Obed Wild & Scenic River, described Clear Creek along the tract as “arguably the most popular river run in the park.” The land lies along the Barnett Bridge to Jett Bridge run.
Designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2017 due to the park’s exceptional night sky conditions and commitment to preserving the dark sky, land protection along the Obed Wild & Scenic River is important to limit potential light pollution. If sold to a private developer, structures could be built along the riverbank or canyon rim—risking the sense of wildness.
Acquiring the land is also critical for the protection of sensitive and threatened resources including numerous archeological sites and federally listed plant and animal species located on or adjacent to the property. Numerous rare species have been documented in Clear Creek downstream of the property. These include the endangered hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), threatened spotﬁn chub (Ermonax monachus), and deemed in need of management tangerine darter (Percina aurantiaca). The threatened Cumberland rosemary (Conradina verticillata) has been documented along the Clear Creek border of the property.
A fundraiser, “Paddle and a Party,” to support this land protection campaign is planned for Saturday, September 23, 2023, in East Tennessee. The outdoor event will feature whitewater rafting with Wildwater Ocoee in Ducktown, followed by a cookout, silent auction, and live music at The Cabins at Copperhill. For information about lodging packages and ticket options, please visit clearcreekevent.gvtls.com.
“We hope that all those in our community will join us in this effort to keep Clear Creek scenic and wild,” said Alice Hudson Pell, TennGreen Land Conservancy’s Executive Director. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect a key portion of the Creek along Obed Wild & Scenic River. If we don’t protect it now, we might never get the chance again. Protecting this land will be a win for people and wildlife today and for future generations.”
To support this campaign, make a secure online donation now at clearcreek.gvtls.com or mail a check to TennGreen Land Conservancy at 1213A 16th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212. If you mail a check, please add a note indicating your gift is for the Clear Creek campaign.
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. tenngreen.org
About Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning is dedicated to protecting natural lands and waters by means of public ownership, legislation, or cooperation of the private sector. Its efforts focus on the Cumberland and Appalachian regions of East Tennessee, but may extend to the rest of the state and the nation. tcwp.org
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