Places We Protect

John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary


The John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary in Shady Valley.
Birch Branch Sanctuary The John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary in Shady Valley. © Terry Cook/The Nature Conservancy

This Shady Valley forest preserve contains wooded hillsides, rocky streams and rolling fields.



The John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary is located in Tennessee's easternmost point, the Shady Valley. Within the preserve are steep and verdant hillsides, rocky streams and rolling fields. It is surrounded on all sides by the Cherokee National Forest and conservation easement lands. 

This nature preserve exists thanks to the generousity of Marie Dickey Kalman, who donated the property to The Nature Conservancy. The land was originally purchased by Mrs. Kalman’s grandfather, Dr. John R. Dickey, with the purpose of protecting what he believed was "one of the prettiest places on Earth." The Conservancy later purchased additional acres to secure a ridge over Birch Branch. Then, in 2017, through a benefactor’s land donation, TNC added 80 acres to expand the property to its current size.

Today, TNC is restoring native warm-season grasses to the preserve's old farm fields. These native warm-season grasses provide superior nutrition and excellent habitat for songbirds, game birds and butterflies. TNC also restored more than 20 acres of farm fields to native warm-season grasses at the preserve. Controlled ecological burns are a part of the restoration and maintenance process. The Bristol Bird Club also does annual bird counts on the property.



Call our Shady Valley office at 423-739-2537 to arrange a visit.


Black bear, deer and turkey are common.


549 acres

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What's At Stake

Aside from natural beauty, the John R. Dickey Birch Branch Sanctuary possesses great native biodiversity. It offers ideal habitat for myriad plant, invertebrate and mammal species throughout forested hillsides, along the banks of Birch Branch and Beaverdam Creek, and among the open fields. A sphagnum-covered bog at an outlet above the old farmhouse is the rarest habitat found on the preserve.

Also on the property, a shale cliff formed by Beaverdam Creek harbors numerous rare plant and animal species. In addition, rhododendron thickets throughout the sanctuary provide habitat for songbirds such as the rare Swainson’s warbler. Other areas of interest include Beaverdam Creek and its tributary streams, which are abundant in native brook trout.

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