An orange amphibian rests on green moss next to a tree branch.
Eastern Newt An eastern newt rests on moss in Tennessee's Shady Valley. © The Nature Conservancy/Terry Cook

Stories in Tennessee

Annual Impact Report 2021

Your support makes it possible to chase big goals in Tennessee.

The Nature Conservancy's global priorities include limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (or less) and protecting 30 percent of the planet by 2030. Over the past year, we made progress towards these two goals. 

And we are just getting started. 


Delivering Good Fire

The relationship between forest health and fire is a tricky balance. Fire represents a natural disturbance that if suppressed, can compromise forests dependent upon regular burning to thrive and support water and air quality, and a variety of species. On the flip side, we are witnessing how even a small rise in temperature can alter weather patterns that impact the frequency and severity of forest fires.

The Nature Conservancy continues to work with colleagues and partners in Tennessee and throughout the Southeast on a proactive approach to promoting forest health and preventing dangerous wildfires from occurring. 

FIRE-By The Numbers

  • 201

    Acres of forest managed with fire before replanting 75,000 shortleaf pine seedlings and other native vegetation at the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain.

  • 123

    Controlled burns on 51,969 acres within the Southern Blue Ridge were completed with assistance by TNC fire crews and several state and federal partners.

  • 12

    Number of years TNC has been working with the U.S. Forest Service across six states to deliver fire to targeted sites located in the Appalachian Mountains.

A map highlights blue areas that make up a floodplain.
Floodplain Tool TNC and partners tailored the organization's floodplain tool to address issues specific to West Tennessee. © The Nature Conservancy

Fixing a Floodplain

Floodplains like the area surrounding the Mississippi River in West Tennessee can make or break a landscape. When connected and bolstered by nature, a healthy floodplain is critical to: 

  • Storing carbon in soil and vegetation 
  • Filtering pollutants 
  • Reducing the impacts of floods
  • Improving wildlife habitat 
  • Enhancing recreation and tourism opportunities

Towards this end, we tailored a version of The Nature Conservancy’s cutting-edge floodplain prioritization tool to reflect West Tennessee’s geography, opportunities and challenges. This helps us identify areas where restoring and reconnecting wildlife habitat—wetlands, bottomland forests, and naturally flowing streams and rivers—will improve the health of this diverse and productive landscape in the face of a changing climate. 

Two women in orange vests measure the trunk of a tree.
Measuring Carbon TNC and University of Tennessee Ag Research committed to managing 11,425 acres according to Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®)-C008922 standards, which include preserving biological diversity, benefiting local people and workers, and sustaining economic viability. © University of Tennessee


Reconnecting Waterways

In order to sustain aquatic species and provide safer recreation opportunities, The Nature Conservancy is working to reconnect targeted waterways that have been dammed or diverted throughout the state. In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, TNC advanced efforts to remove a high-priority dam at Harms Mill on the Elk River.Currently in the design phase, the Harms Mill Dam removal ranks as one of the top five priority dam removal projects out of 2,000 identified in the state. It also represents the only major barrier on the river’s mainstem that separates 804 linear miles of streams below the dam from 780 miles upstream. 

A concrete structure divides a river.
Harms Mill Dam TNC has identified 46 species of greatest conservation need that would benefit from the Harms Mill Dam removal, including 19 that are federally listed as endangered or threatened. That is in addition to 139 other fish species that occur in the Elk River. © The Nature Conservancy/Rob Bullard
A woman in a blue hat and blue shirt smiles for the camera.
Meet Lynn Faust Lynn Faust is a citizen-scientist-turned-firefly-expert who resides in Tennessee. © Courtesy/Lynn Faust


Making a Difference

“In 1991, I read an article in Science News that reported there were no synchronous fireflies in the western hemisphere. However, I was certain that we had been watching synchronous displays at Elkmont for years! I contacted the scientists named in the article, who visited our little corner of the Great Smoky Mountains the following summer and confirmed the existence of Photinus carolinus, now North America’s best-known synchronous firefly species.”

–Lynn Faust, whose keen observation and passion for fireflies jumpstarted efforts to protect a firefly species previously unknown to science.

A woman stands outside of a small cabin is nestled within a dense forest.
Elkmont Cabin Each summer, Lynn Faust's family gathers to watch synchronous fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains. © Gavin Thurston

PEOPLE-By The Numbers

  • $900 M

    In full and permanent annual funding secured for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through the Great American Outdoors Act.

  • $9.4 M

    Awarded to TNC by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to enroll up to 2,500 acres of farmland in West Tennessee and western Kentucky in the WREP program.

  • 3,377

    Acres of conservation lands acquired in partnership with The Conservation Fund, the Open Space Institute and the TennGreen Land Conservancy to benefit all Tennesseans.

Thank You

Thank you for your continued support of The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. Your investment is critical to the impact of our conservation work, communications and operations.