Deal preserves 4,000 southern Cumberland Plateau acres

More than 4,000 acres on the southern Cumberland Plateau will be protected under an agreement involving the state, land conservation groups and property owners, reports the Times-Free Press.

The land includes more than 8 miles of streams in the Crow Creek Valley and other vital habitat for endangered species that live just north of the Alabama border.

The project also protects local mining jobs for the next 50 years and connects 25,000 acres of forest and wildlife corridor, according to officials with The Conservation Fund and The Land Trust for Tennessee, the nonprofit organizations that partnered on the effort with the state.

“The South Cumberland State Park area is unique in many ways,” Brock Hill, deputy commissioner for state parks and conservation, said in a statement. “By providing protection of the threatened species and preserving one of Tennessee’s most scenic lands, Tennessee State Parks will preserve and protect this wild place forever.”

The protected 4,061 acres lie along the eastern side of the Crow Creek Valley above the tiny town of Sherwood, Tenn. Sherwood is home to about 500 people and Sherwood Mining Co., the town’s longtime limestone mining operation that harks back to the days when the community was three times its present size.

The Conservation Fund, with support from The Land Trust for Tennessee, purchased 3,893 acres earlier this year from the mining company. The company retained the right to mine limestone underneath the property for the next 50 years, officials said.

…In an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the mining company donated an additional 168 acres to mitigate impacts from mining on the painted snake-coiled forest snail habitat. Franklin County is the only place in the world the animal lives. The habitat of the endangered Morefield’s leather flower and seven other rare species of plants and animals also is protected.

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