Places We Protect

Bridgestone Nature Reserve Chestnut Mountain

Tennessee

A tree frames a forested valley.
Chestnut Mountain A view from the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain in Tennessee. © The Nature Conservancy/Paul Kingsbury

This diverse mountain forest constitutes the largest land donation in The Nature Conservancy’s history of working in Tennessee.

Overview

Description

The Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain is part of a mosaic of 60,000 acres of protected public lands that include Virgin Falls State Natural Area, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Bledsoe State Forest and the state-owned 10,000-acre Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness Wildlife Management Area. This 5,700-acre mountain forest constitutes the largest land donation in The Nature Conservancy’s history of working in Tennessee.

Scientific research and on-the-ground projects taking place at the Reserve have established it as a living laboratory for ground-truthing conservation tools and technologies that will benefit the surrounding Cumberland Plateau. Results of this work also extend more broadly, to the Appalachian Mountains, a global hotspot for biodiversity that harbors more rare and imperiled fish, mussels, crayfish and other freshwater species than anywhere in North America. These species benefit from healthy, intact forests that double as important carbon reserves with the potential for storing even more carbon with improved management.

Access

CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC

Highlights

Habitat for more than 100 species of conservation concern, including the golden eagle, the Eastern slender glass lizard, the barking tree frog, and the green salamander, and rare plants including Cumberland rosemary and white prairie clover.

Size

5,763 acres

Explore our work in Tennessee

We applaud Bridgestone Americas, Inc. for its commitment to the environment and are honored that they entrusted The Nature Conservancy to manage this important forest.

Terry Cook TNC Tennessee State Director
Two people and a dog sit on a rock overlooking a valley.
Chestnut Mountain The Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain features several overlooks that provide a view of a forested gorge. © Byron Jorjorian

Background

In the early 1970s, not long before TNC opened an office in Tennessee, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company acquired land in White County to eventually use as a corporate retreat. When Bridgestone acquired Firestone in 1988, the property remained undeveloped.

Many years later, in 2014, they consulted with TNC about pursuing Forest Stewardship Council certification—one of the highest standards of sustainable forest management—for the parcel. In addition to collaborating on a forest management plan, the two organizations also began treating short-leaf pines and hemlocks on the property to fight invasive hemlock woolly adelgid. In 2018, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. donated the 5,763-acre parcel to TNC—the largest gift in our history of working in Tennessee. 

Today, TNC staff and partners, including several scientists, are hard at work conducting research to inventory biodiversity at the site to inform future decisions about conservation, restoration and public use. This work informs a 16-state effort organized to accelerate TNC’s mission in the Appalachian Mountains.

Screenshot of a slide saying "Welcome" with landscape photos on the right.

Learn More

In 2018 Bridgestone Americas, Inc. donated this 5,763-acre living laboratory used to demonstrate innovative forest management strategies and natural solutions to climate change. In this webinar, our TNC panelists shared the history of Chestnut Mountain, the research, education, and recreation opportunities it presents, as well as our future plans. 

Fast Facts

  • Inventorying Species

    The Reserve boasts mixed hardwood and shortleaf pine forests, caves, and the headwaters of the Caney Fork River and Firestone Lake, which provides drinking water for local communities. The Reserve also contains habitat that could potentially harbor more than 100 species of conservation concern, including the bald eagle, the eastern slender glass lizard, long-tailed weasel, the barking tree frog, green salamander, rusty patched bumblebee and rose orchid. Turkey, quail, bobcat, red and gray foxes, otter, beaver, and rare plants such as Cumberland rosemary and white prairie clover also inhabit the area.

    Prior to the donation, and under TNC’s guidance, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. was implementing protective treatments to the property's eastern hemlock trees to combat the non-native, invasive hemlock woolly adelgid pest, and authorized controlled burns to restore native shortleaf pine forest, which has declined by more than 50 percent in the past 30 years throughout its native range. 

    Since assuming ownership, TNC has assembled scientists—representing different disciplines—to conduct a comprehensive survey of plants, animals and wildlife habitats. Thanks to a grant from the Barbara J. Mapp Foundation, this work includes the installation of trail cameras and bioacoustics equipment to further advance monitoring and inventorying efforts. 

  • Exploring New Markets

    TNC is exploring ways of measuring, and eventually harnessing, the carbon sequestering power of the Reserve’s forests to mitigate impacts from greenhouse gasses. Currently, the property stores about 200,000 metric tons of carbon, equivalent to greenhouse gasses emitted by 155,697 vehicles in one year. In addition to ramping up sustainable forest management practices, TNC is exploring the sale of carbon credits to entities seeking to offset their emissions, with revenues going towards restoring more of the property’s forest cover.

  • Welcoming the Public

    Currently, the Reserve is not open to visitors. Once TNC has a better idea of the Reserve’s plant and animal species, and associated needs, it will plan for public uses that are compatible with protecting the property’s natural values.

     

The head of a salamander peeks out from between two orange rocks.
Green Salamander A green salamander peeks out from under a rock at Chestnut Mountain in Tennessee. © TWRA/Daniel Istvanko

OUR GOALS

  • Establish a living laboratory.
  • Restore shortleaf pine habitat.
  • Sustainably manage timber. 
  • Increase carbon sequestration.
  • Engage the surrounding community.
  • Connect with conservation lands.
  • Preserve historic and cultural artifacts.

Big Picture

TNC is focused on establishing the Reserve as a platform for conservation strategies that can benefit lands, waters and wildlife beyond its boundaries. That begins with developing the property as a cornerstone for science and research that is enhanced by input from academic partners.  

We are also exploring opportunities to connect with the more than 65,000 acres of surrounding conservation lands to establish corridors for wildlife inhabiting the Cumberland Plateau. Additionally, efforts to restore natural disturbances like fire will benefit rare shortleaf pine habitats, and other native species, and enhances the landscape's health and resilience. Success at the Reserve also hinges on support and engagement from the community, including youth and partners from throughout the region.

Chestnut Mountain Habitats

Get inspired by Chestnut Mountain's diverse landscape.

A fog hovers over forested wetlands.
A green sapling emerges from soil.
A creek meanders through a landscape of moss and rocks.
Tall green trees urround a still lake.
Thick woods surround a wide trail.
Fog surrounds a forest.
People surround a tall poll.
Clouds cover a rocky outcrop surrounded by trees.
A grassy meadow creates a break in a forest.
A staff member delivers fire to a portion of the preserve.
Chestnut Mountain Through the Seasons Check out the view from one trail cam, positioned on one tree, at our Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain.

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