Places We Protect

Bridgestone Nature Reserve Chestnut Mountain


Trees frame the view of a forested valley below.
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.



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.




Sparta, TN

Map with marker: Stay tuned for more information about low-impact public access and the creation of connector trails.


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.


5,763 acres

Explore our work in Tennessee

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


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 ® (FSC®) certification—one of the highest standards of sustainable forest management—for the parcel, and it was later certified within TNC’s FSC®-C008922 certificate. 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.
Tennessee Webinar TNC's Tennessee staff shares information about the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain. © The Nature Conservancy

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. 

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


  • 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.
× The head of a salamander peeks out from between two orange rocks.

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 enhance 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.

A person wearing a hat kneels down in a field.
Tree Planting The Nature Conservancy is planting white oak trees in places where they would have historically occurred at the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain. © The Nature Conservancy
× A person wearing a hat kneels down in a field.
The trunk of a tree felled by fire lays on the ground.
× The trunk of a tree felled by fire lays on the ground.

Fast Facts

  • 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. began 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% 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.

  • TNC is exploring ways of measuring, and eventually harnessing, the carbon sequestering power of the Reserve’s forests to mitigate impacts from greenhouse gasses. An inventory of the property's forest revealed that the Reserve stores nearly one million metric tons of carbon, equivalent to greenhouse gasses emitted by more than 155,000 vehicles in one year.

    Due to its carbon storage capacity, the Reserve can participate in a marketplace that puts a price on carbon to provide partnership opportunities for businesses seeking to voluntarily offset emissions that result from their operations. They can pursue this by purchasing credits from landwoners who have committed to quantifying and protecting carbon stored on their forested property in order to participate in the marketplace.

    Since these forests are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC®-C008922), TNC expects that their potential for storing carbon will improve with sustainable management. TNC will reinvest proceeds generated from the carbon marketplace into conservation projects at the Reserve and throughout the Cumberland Plateau.

  • 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.

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 stand in a circle around a tall radio pole.
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 (3:06) Check out the view from one trail cam, positioned on one tree, at our Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain.

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