The story below is an excerpt from our Jan./Feb. 2015 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
Almost 400 acres of hallowed ground in Tennessee and North Carolina surrounding a section of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail have been conveyed to public ownership by the nonprofit Conservation Fund, which bought the land last year. This section of the 4,900-mile trail was a primary route for the forced relocation of Cherokee people to Oklahoma in the 1800s. The newly protected land will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, the Cherokee and Creek tribes, and other entities.
To the dismay of local environmentalists, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed a massive timber project on the Chattahoochee National Forest – roughly 2,300 acres in the Cooper Creek watershed, including many stands of old-growth forest, a diminishing resource on public lands in the Blue Ridge region. “It seems as if the whole project is based on the idea of finding the very best and oldest timber and cutting it down,” says Jim Walker, with Georgia ForestWatch, which is opposing the project. gafw.org
3. North Carolina
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently purchased the 58-acre Big Rock Creek tract in the Highlands of Roan, and the 77-acre Rice Creek tract near the Rocky Fork wilderness area of Unicoi County in Tennessee. And the Conservation Trust for North Carolina purchased the 47-acre Jackson Knob tract in Mitchell County, bringing to a total of 31,408 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway protected by the trust. Generous funding from Fred and Alice Stanback of North Carolina enabled all three projects. sahc.org, ctnc.org