Nature Conservancy and State of Tennessee Save Doe Mountain
The 8,600-acre property is expected to provide recreation and increase tourism.
Nashville, TN | May 31, 2012
The Nature Conservancy and the state of Tennessee have joined forces to purchase Doe Mountain, an undeveloped 8,600-acre property in Johnson County located immediately southwest of Mountain City, for $8.8 million.
The acquisition helps to conserve one of the largest remaining blocks of forest in private ownership in the Southern Blue Ridge region. The Nature Conservancy and the state of Tennessee plan to open Doe Mountain to the public. Portions of the property are expected to allow outdoor recreation such as mountain biking, horseback riding, low-impact, scenic touring by ATVs and other activities. The tract contains many miles of existing roads and trails.
“Our vision for Doe Mountain involves engaging the state’s land managers and the local community in developing a multi-use plan for outdoor recreation there,” said Gina Hancock, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. “Working with the state and county officials, we will develop a management plan for the mountain that will set up the appropriate locations for different activities as well as build in protective management approaches that preserve water quality and maintain an intact forest cover.”
A new element to the management of the property has been the authorization of the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority. The authority is a 15-member Doe Mountain management board that includes The Nature Conservancy. The authorizing legislation also calls for a management plan led by the Conservancy and the Authority.
“Doe Mountain offers a great opportunity for outdoor recreation and the benefits that come with opening up space for people to enjoy, such as healthier communities and new jobs from tourism,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “I’m pleased we as a state could contribute to this lasting legacy for all Tennesseans, and I appreciate all of the hard work that has made this happen.”
The property had been slated for development in the mid-2000s by the previous owners. The property was subject to bankruptcy court proceedings, and The Nature Conservancy worked with the owners and the financial institution to acquire the land. Previously, Doe Mountain had been leased by the state of Tennessee for 15 years as a Wildlife Management Area that allowed hunting, until it was closed to the public by the previous owners around 2005. The state of Tennessee is providing full funding to enable the Conservancy to quickly acquire the property on the state’s behalf.
“Doe Mountain is a fantastic opportunity to do something that’s never been done in Tennessee,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, “and that’s to make clear that economic development and good stewardship go hand in hand. We need both, and we’re going to do both in Johnson County.”
“The Nature Conservancy and the state of Tennessee have experience working together to make public lands available for a variety of recreational uses. We agree that the conservation of such places as Doe Mountain should be done and that they should be as accessible as possible,” said Hancock. She cited the Northern Cumberlands and Walls of Jericho acquisitions as projects that encompassed different types of public recreational management including scenic touring on OHVs, ATV use for hunting, hiking, fishing and horseback riding.
“The key is to keep roads and new trails to a minimum and properly built to reduce forest fragmentation and erosion into streams. We will be working with the state on the management plan for this property to ensure that the forest on Doe Mountain and its species aren’t harmed,” Hancock noted.
It is anticipated that the availability of this large, forested property for a variety of outdoor experiences will draw regular visitors from nearby Mountain City as well as outside of Johnson County. The increased tourist visitation is expected to provide a boost to the local economy. About 2 million people annually visit the Cherokee National Forest, which is located nearby along the Tennessee-North Carolina state line.
“Protecting a place like Doe Mountain requires work by many people. We want to thank leaders in the local community, especially Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter, the Land Trust for Tennessee and The Conservation Fund for working to keep Doe Mountain going as a conservation project,” said Hancock.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.