Orchard Bog in Shady Valley.
Orchard Bog. Orchard Bog in Shady Valley. © Charles McQueen/The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Shady Valley


Mountain wetlands make Shady Valley one of Southern Appalachia’s most ecologically important areas.

Shady Valley has long been recognized as one of the Southern Appalachians' most ecologically important areas. It represents a rare high-elevation remnant of the last Ice Age, once covered with a network of sphagnum/cranberry peat bogs and white pine/hemlock forests , which supported a rich community of plant and animal life. As the human population has grown and drained most of the wetlands, these plants and animals have become increasingly rare and threatened.

To protect the wetland plants and animals of this special place from extinction, The Nature Conservancy purchased its first nature preserve in Shady Valley in 1979, the Jess Jenkins Cranberry Bog. The Conservancy later transferred the preserve to East Tennessee State University for scientific research and educational purposes.

Today TNC owns four preserves and 797 total acres in Shady Valley, some which is leased for haying, grazing and/or hunting when the practices are consistent with standard protection strategies for the rare plants and animals located in the area.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

Since 1997, TNC has had a satellite office in Shady Valley staffed by longtime residents who work to preserve and restore the few mountain bog sites still remaining in the area. These restorations have been identified as the single most important factor in the long-term protection of rare wetland plant species like the wild cranberry and the bog turtle. As with all of its work, TNC seeks to find solutions that allow people and nature to live in harmony together.

What's At Stake

Shady Valley supports at least 26 rare plants and animals. The valley's wetlands are one of only two places in Tennessee where cranberries grow naturally. These wetlands are also home to the bog turtle, which is federally listed as a threatened species. Beavers, golden eagles, great blue herons, common barn owls, deer, turkey and black bears can also be found in this area.

Read about what happened when a Nature Conservancy magazine writer volunteered to spend a day removing invasive multiflora rose from a bog in Tennessee's Shady Valley. 

Watch a video about our protection and restoration work in Shady Valley.

Support Tennessee Nature

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