►Join Us for the Annual Cranberry Festival in Shady Valley in October.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Area
Shady Valley has long been recognized as one of the Southern Appalachians' most ecologically important areas, a rare high-elevation remnant of the last Ice Age. Shady Valley was 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 the Conservancy owns four preserves and 705 total acres in Shady Valley, including 469 acres of mountain land and approximately 236 acres on the valley floor. The Conservancy permits or leases land in Shady Valley for haying, cattle, and/or hunting — practices which are consistent with standard protection strategies for the rare plants and animals in the area. Of the 705 acres owned by The Nature Conservancy, 452 were donated by a charitable individual in 1996. The rest were purchased at fair market value from willing sellers.