Many visitors who drive, bike, hike or ride horses along the Natchez Trace Parkway don’t realize that most of the beautiful landscapes they enjoy are not part of the parkway, but private property. The Land Trust has been working with landowners and the parkway staff to protect the parkway viewshed – the lands visible from the parkway – targeting a roughly 10,000-acre corridor along the Natchez Trace Parkway, beginning near the Loveless Cafe to south of Leipers Fork, including land that the original Natchez Trace footpath followed.
The Parkway viewshed is just one component of the initiative. In this relatively small area, there are nearly 30 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, such as the Leipers Fork Historic District, the Warner Parks and a collection of some of the nation’s most beautiful antebellum homes. The Natchez Trace Corridor is also laced with historic, sunken roads, lined by carefully laid stone fences that date to the earliest settlement of the region. There are three officially designated state scenic routes and several prominent pre-historic sites, including Old Town along the Harpeth River.
The Land Trust is partnering with other organizations in this effort, such as the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, Natchez Trace Parkway Association, Williamson County Tourism, The State Department of Tourism and the Harpeth River Watershed Association. So far, more than 2,000 acres in this corridor have been permanently protected by conservation easements.