A sun rises over a forested mountain valley.
Cumberland Forest Sunrise TNC's Cumberland Forest project protects 253,000 acres of forestland in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. © Cameron Davidson

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Cumberland Forest Community Fund

Partners announce the first group of Tennessee award recipients.

The Clinch Powell RC&D Council, The Nature Conservancy, and TNC's in-house impact investing team at NatureVest, are pleased to announce the first group of grant recipients of the Cumberland Forest Community Fund. Thanks to support from the Cumberland Forest Limited Partnership, this new local grant program supports nature-based economic and community development in five Tennessee counties: Claiborne, Campbell, Union, Hancock, and Grainger.

“We believe that this first set of funded projects will connect people to nature while contributing to economic diversification and community development,” says Terry Cook, Tennessee state director for The Nature Conservancy. “We couldn’t be happier with Clinch Powell as our partner and program manager for the Cumberland Forest Community Fund, and are excited to see the Council support these projects going forward.”

Successful grant awardees are implementing exciting projects that contribute toward the Program’s “triple bottom line” of desired outcomes: enhancing local economic development, building community capacity and improving environmental quality within the program area.

“We are fortunate to live in a region with truly special natural resources. Biodiversity that we might take for granted should be celebrated while it is protected because it can be a key to healthy economic and community development in this region of need," says Lindy Turner, executive director at Clinch-Powell RC&D.  "We are pleased about The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to helping us find ways to protect unique natural resources that also revitalize local communities and recognize them as important leaders in the region's economic development strategy.”

The partners selected projects through a competitive process that solicited proposals from businesses, non-profits and communities. The first round included the following projects:

  • Riverside Rentals secured $7,500 for a beautification project that will plant native vegetation to protect against erosion and make improvements that include improved river access and the creation of a walking trail.
  • Big Ridge State Park secured $19,049 for a permanent, centralized outdoor water station that is accessible and weatherproof for use by hikers and others visiting the park.
  • The Wellbeing Foundation secured $10,000 for a pollinator project that involves planting a large field to attract and encourage pollinators, and purchasing equipment to maintain pollinator habitats (new and already planted) for years to come.
  • Servolution Health Services secured $14,513 for a People Achieving Total Health (PATH) program that will include a multipurpose outdoor space to be used for physical wellness, community events, as an outdoor classroom, and as a meeting space for 4H clubs and others.
  • Campbell County Chamber of Commerce secured $25,000 to rebuild the popular Hatfield Knob elk viewing tower with steel and ADA compliant access.
  • Woodland Community Development Corporation secured $16,680 to create a shared workspace for small businesses in the remote Clearfork Valley area near Clairfield, Tennessee.

“The first round of the Cumberland Forest Community Fund proposals included an impressive portfolio of diverse projects and the selection was very competitive,” says Stephanie McCarty, director of media at Clinch-Powell RC&D. “We look forward to supporting the implementation of these impactful projects.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.