In 2013, Brookfield Renewable Energy Group agreed to transfer 4,000 acres of mountain forests to The Nature Conservancy. The sale was completed in October 2013. This forestland is the watershed for the Little Tennessee River as it flows into Calderwood Lake.
►See a map of the Bridging the Smokies tracts.
The area is rich in animal and plant life. Surveys of the region have found 21 rare, threatened and endangered species. Among the rare species are the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, hellbender, the Junaluska salamander, bristle fern, chalk maple, and smoky dace. Common species such as the black bear and the white-tailed deer are also found in this region.
Relicensing Leads to Protection
The protection of this land is the culmination of a nine-year journey. Federal energy regulations required that when the Alcoa company relicensed its four hydropower dams on the Little Tennessee River, compensating environmental protection measures had to be in place. In 2004, The Nature Conservancy and nine other conservation groups developed a historic conservation agreement protecting 10,000 acres via conservation easements. The agreement also enabled the relicensing of Alcoa's hydropower dams in this region.