The Land Trust for Tennessee and The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) successfully partnered to purchase 68 acres of critical wildlife habitat located along Blythe Ferry Road near the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers.
This peaceful stretch of tall grasses was about to become a wastewater treatment facility for a high-density residential development. When the project thankfully fell through, The Land Trust for Tennessee spent two years in negotiations to protect the property from development. It is now part of the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, which increases the size of the refuge and adds incremental revenue for tourism and recreation.
This piece of land and other properties along the Hiwassee River corridor – which is one of The Land Trust’s high-priority conservation areas – are an essential part of the Sandhill Crane’s natural migration pattern. More than 48,000 of the birds descend on the Refuge for up to three months each winter. In addition to the annual The Sandhill Crane Festival, Blythe Ferry was a site for Cherokee camps and major departure point for the Trail of Tears. Proposed development would have threatened the spectacular wildlife special to this region, and would ruin the historic context for visitors to experience the Old Wagon Road leading to the ferry and to the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park that adjoins these 68 acres.
Through a federal wildlife habitat grant, TWRA committed $250,000 toward the project, and The Land Trust for Tennessee raised the private funds necessary to purchase this land for public use. Generous support poured in from foundations and wildlife enthusiasts across Tennessee and beyond, including a large gift made by an anonymous donor through the International Crane Foundation.
PHOTO BY: CYNDI ROUTLEDGE